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A colonial experiment in cleansing: the Russian conquest of Western Caucasus, 1856-65

Irma Kreiten

To cite this Article Kreiten, Irma(2009) 'A colonial experiment in cleansing: the Russian conquest of Western Caucasus, 1856-65', Journal of Genocide Research, 11: 2, 213 — 241 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/14623520903118953 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623520903118953


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Journal of Genocide Research (2009), 11(2–3), June–September, 213–241

Research (2009), 11 (2–3), June–September, 213–241 A colonial experiment in cleansing: the Russian conquest of

A colonial experiment in cleansing:

the Russian conquest of Western Caucasus, 1856 – 65


In the course of colonial conquest, Russian military policy underwent a process of radicalization which culminated in the expulsion of most of the local population. This policy was explicitly referred to as “cleansing” by Russian contemporaries. Even though imperial Russian officials did not yet think in ethnic terms and were not backed up by biologistic concepts, their images of Northern Caucasians had become highly essentialized. In the case of the Circassians from Western Caucasus, this essentialization led to their exclusion from the “civilized” world and turned them into objects to be dispensed with. This article seeks to explain the origins of Russian “resettlement” and “cleansing” by locating them within the emerging field of governmentality and tracing their further development. It argues that Russian colonial authorities, in conducting their strategy of “final subjugation,” created a new, supplementary instrument of state power that could be used where other, less openly violent techniques of domination and control had failed. In contradiction to widespread assumptions, in Northern Caucasus the mission to civilize and the intent to destroy could exist side by side and even came to complement each other.

The task in fact is to know which has made them possible, and how these “discoveries” could be followed by others, which took them up again, rectified, modified, or eventually annulled them.

Michel Foucault 1


Recent research in the area of Postcolonial Studies has sought to demonstrate that what is today regarded as genuinely European has for a large part evolved out of the interaction with the non-European world. This argument is especially convincing with regard to modern techniques of rule and state violence. Colonies provided a space for modern state power in which to experiment at will, freed from the sociocultural restrictions present at home. The imperial periphery thus came to serve as a laboratory for social, economic, political and cultural experimentation. 2 The Russian Empire has traditionally been represented as “backward” and as a power bent upon imitating Western European developments. While this is to a

ISSN 1462-3528 print; ISSN 1469-9494 online/09/02–30213-29 # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14623520903118953

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certain degree correct, the very process of emulation gave rise to several new developments that were then re-imported back to Europe. “Ethnography” as the new science of mapping the state’s subjects had first been invented by a German in Russian service. 3 The idea of the Panopticon, made famous by Michel Foucault as modern technique of disciplining subjects which replaced earlier forms of corporal punishment, had originated with Jeremy Bentham’s brother during his stay in Russia. Samuel Bentham had thought of the “Inspection House” as a method of surveilling the ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse employees and servants on count Potemkin’s estate at the southern fringes of Russia. I want to argue that yet another, supplementary, instrument of state power was shaped on the Russian periphery, one that could be employed where other methods of control had failed: that of “cleansing” and “re-settlement.” Peter Holquist’s article on population politics in late imperial and early Soviet Russia has argued that the advent of Russian military statistics gave rise to the idea of “extracting” unreliable elements from within the population, an idea which was first realized in the conquest of Western Caucasus with the replacement of the local Circassian population by Russian Cossack settlements. 5 In following Holquist’s path-break- ing study, I will examine “cleansing” as a strategy to overcome Caucasian resist- ance to the Russian colonial project and its emergence from within the wider field of modern govern-mentality. The article thereby joins recent efforts to wrench the Foucaultean concept of governmentality from its exclusively European anchor- ing. 6 By tracing both the origins of this new Russian policy in the conquest of Western Caucasus and its subsequent actualizations, it shall be demonstrated that the Russian–Caucasian periphery was far more central to the unfolding of European modernity than is generally acknowledged. My intention is to bring the colonial history of Western Caucasus back into perspective and show that the events that took place at the Northeastern Black Sea coast in the early 1860s form an integral, albeit dismal part of European history that should not be forgotten. I will start by locating the Russian policy of “final subjugation” within the wider context of the Russian colonial project. The second and third parts of the article will examine in detail its invention and realization. The fourth part will track the emergence of modern notions of governance and mission civilizatrice and specify the place “final subjugation” occupied among them. The last part deals with the Russian realization that the conquest of Western Caucasus had given birth to a new political instrument that could be applied to other cases as well.


The will to conquer: origins of Russian imperialism in Northern Caucasus

Colonization is commonly assumed to have played a formative role in Russian history. Yet this assumption holds true only in certain regards. When dealing with pre-nineteenth century Russian political culture at a conceptual level, one is rather surprised by the absence of explicit discussion and clear-cut notions regarding colonization: until the mid-eighteenth century there were no memoranda


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addressing Moscow’s foreign policies and Russians did not seem to invest the enterprises of migration and settlement with a larger meaning. 7 Russian rulers had been in contact with Northern Caucasians from at least the sixteenth century onwards. However, for Muscovite tsars safeguarding the empire’s southern borders remained paramount. As Brian Boeck has shown, the Muscovite state generally pursued a risk-averse policy towards the steppe. It pre- ferred to contract with clients rather than plant colonies. This can be attributed not solely to a pragmatic calculation of costs and benefits, but also to Muscovite’s overall political culture: Muscovite “foreign policy” in the south was still oriented on traditional steppe policy with its stress on flexibility, coexistence and pragmatic conflict regulation. What was lacking was not only the means toward territorial conquest and for securing settlements against the “nomadic threat,” but the political will itself. Russia did not yet possess a systematic agenda of colonial expansion. 8 This was to change dramatically in the course of the eighteenth century. At the beginning of Peter the Great’s reign, Russia had increasingly become perceived as backward. Its international position seemed threatened and it ran the risk of succumbing to the superior military power of its Western neighbors in case of war. The only way to catch up seemed to adopt both Western ways of ruling and knowing. This included the acquisition of colonies as one of the ways to increase Russia’s political, economic and symbolic power simultaneously. As the idea of developing inferior or uncivilized peoples became a source of imperial legitimization, Russia’s attitude towards adjacent non-Russian populations under- went a profound change. From the middle of the eighteenth century onwards, Russian officials consciously modeled their policies on Western Europe’s experi- ences overseas. This intellectual shift first became visible under Catherine the Great, when the Russian state conquered the Black Sea steppes and became engaged in managing colonization on a larger scale. 9 Before long, the Caucasus was to become the main object of Western-style colonial expansion. Here, with the waning influence of the Persian and Ottoman Empires, a power vacuum emerged that could be exploited by the modernizing Russian state. Geostrategical interests in the Caucasus were redoubled with an ideological thrust. In order to legitimize its new claims to imperial power, Russia stylized itself as a Christian state at the forefront of the struggle with the Islamic world. Still somewhat blurry and vague, Catherine’s “Greek project”

promised to re-erect the former Christian

Orient. 10 “Enlightenment” in this

specifically Russian context took on a double meaning, with “prosveshchenie” designating both the adoption of a European philosophical current and the spiritual enlightenment of formerly (or non-) Christian peoples. In 1801 Russia succeeded in annexing the Transcaucasian kingdom of Georgia without any bloodshed. However, mountainous Northern Caucasus, separating the new colony from the Russian core, posed a quite different challenge. The situation in Western Caucasus was especially sensitive because of its densely wooded valleys, wild rivers and steep mountain slopes which made it a terrain extremely difficult to oversee. The local population, commonly known as “Circassians,” was


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mainly organized in a segmentary fashion and did not form part of any state society. There were no easily identifiable leaders with whom to conclude treaties or with whom to engage in regular military campaigns. Furthermore, the Circas- sians had been participating in the Black Sea trade and both their outside contacts and their growing Islamic orientation were something the Russian military was highly suspicious about. 11 Initially, the Russian Empire remained ambivalent whether the aim in Northern Caucasus should be direct conquest or merely to safeguard Russia’s Transcauca- sian possessions. Out of the fear of offending the Ottoman Empire, early nine- teenth-century Russia confined itself to “establishing links” with Northern Caucasians, or “mountaineers” in Russian terminology. 12 However, the need to pay attention to Ottoman interests in Western Caucasus became obsolete with the Russo–Ottoman war of 1828–29. Although neither power had been able to rule over Circassian lands so far, the Treaty of Adrianople stipulated—in the sub- sequent Russian reading of the treaty at least—that the area south to the river Kuban had now passed under Russian control. 13 In this way, a unique situation was created: a territory was held to be rightfully belonging to Russia while in practice colonial authorities were still far from gaining any foothold in the region. This gave rise to a stream of plans and projects about how the subjugation of Western Caucasus might be accomplished, that is, how Western Caucasian reality could be made to conform to an already existent imperial imagery. 14 While serious efforts to bring the area under Russian control were made starting from 1829, Russian success remained extremely limited. Most of the territory con- quered in individual campaigns was lost again shortly thereafter. Repeated failures led to a growing amount of frustration among imperial officials. After Russia’s defeat in the Crimean war, the subjugation of the Circassians became an issue of national pride. Now, it seemed to Russian colonial officials, was the right time to concentrate all their forces on Western Caucasus, end native resistance “once and for all” and thus prove Russia’s imperial might to its Western European rivals.

Relocation or extermination? Arguing for a new plan

In 1857, Russian military officer Dmitrii Miliutin, close associate of the new Caucasian viceroy A.I. Bariatinskii, proposed a new system of action. In a mem- orandum called rather inconspicuously “On the means to develop the Russian Cossack population in the Caucasus and to resettle part of the native tribes,” Miliutin explained that territorial conquest could generally be achieved by two different means: either by letting the local inhabitants remain on the occupied land, or by “taking the land away from the native population and settling the victor on it.” He went on to argue that in the case of the Circassians, the first option was not feasible, as “[t]he non-uniformity of these tribes, the age-old habit of anarchy and freedom, the light-minded mobility do not allow to hope that one could at some time subject them to a regular order and to rightful authorities.” 15 The local Circassian population would always remain an


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untrustworthy element and continue to endanger Russian imperial integrity. Miliutin therefore proposed to secure Russian control over the region by replacing the local population with Russian Cossacks. He then hurried to explain that the Caucasians forced from their lands could be re-settled farther north on Cossack territory where they could easily be held under the control of the Russian military. Thus, according to Miliutin, a “simple exchange” of populations would be the option to be pursued. 16 Already then however, the memorandum provoked a controversy and a series of mutual accusations among Russian officials. This discussion is all the more important, since it proves that the policy that followed was well-planned and that its fatal consequences for the Circassians were anticipated and consciously accepted by its proponents. The governmental commission entrusted with judging upon Miliutin’s memor- andum strongly objected to the measures proposed herein, which, in their eyes, constituted a major departure from former forms of submission and techniques of rule. They not only questioned the feasibility of the plan, but presented strong moral objections, as, due to

the mountaineers’ deep affection for their homeland [ would prefer death to the settlement on the steppes [

not only whole tribes, but also individual families would not make up their mind to submit under these conditions, and that this would lead not to submission, but to their

extermination. 17

The notion of extermination was obviously familiar to Russian contemporaries. To subdue Northern Caucasus by way of annihilating the local population had occasionally been proposed by Russian officials, as for example in 1841 by a Petr Chaikovsky, who claimed that to pacify the Caucasian “eternal savage” could mean nothing else than to disarm him, and to disarm again meant to kill, “because he would rather kill himself than hand over his arms voluntarily.” A pro- posal of 1863 which Miliutin kept among his papers, read: “But if it is not possible to civilize the mountaineers, then they have to be exterminated (ich sleduet istre- bit’).” 18 However, Russian policymakers after the Crimean war were extremely careful to avoid any expression of exterminatory intent on their part. Russian viceroy Bariatinskii showed himself hurt because of the allegations made by the committee and defended the resettlement plan. He sought to appease the commit- tee by asserting that extermination was far from their minds and that the memor- andum “did absolutely not propose any new system of action.” 19 In the end, it was the Bariatinskii-Miliutin faction that kept the upper hand and succeeded in pushing through its visions against all domestic opposition. That Bariatinskii and Miliutin were able to circumvent regular governmental organs was an expression of both the exceptional structural position of the Caucasian viceroy in Russian politics and their personal connections with the imperial family. 20 Counting upon the benevolence of the Tsar and his brother, they fre- quently took the liberty of running ahead of official policymaking and acting at their own discretion.

it is not to be doubted that they ] and one can definitely say, that



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Not least due to Bariatinskii’s machinations, minister of war N.O. Sukhozanet, who had been one of the most serious obstacles for the realization of the new policy, was substituted by Miliutin towards the end of 1860. 21 While this replace- ment involved a fair amount of chance—skillfully exploited by Miliutin—lower- ranking opponents such as G.I. Filipson could be removed by Bariatinskii directly. Filipson, who had advocated “gentle measures” when discussing the plan of action for Western Caucasus at a staff meeting in autumn 1860, was replaced with A.P. Kartsov in spring 1861, and it was Count N.I. Evdokimov, whose views Baria- tinski knew to be more in line with his own, who was now entrusted with working out the details of the plan and putting it into action. 22 As the plan took shape, the notion of “re-settlement” came to have an even more radical meaning. The aim formulated now was to “finally cleanse the moun- tainous region from its primordial population, forcing it to choose one of the two [options]: either to resettle to the indicated places on the lowlands and to subject themselves wholly to the Russian administration, or to leave their native soil altogether and leave for Turkey.” 23 Domestic “resettlement” had thus been sup- plemented by the “option” of foreign exile. The decree on the military settlement of Cossacks in Western Caucasus (and thus the “re-settlement” of the Circassians) received imperial confirmation on May 10, 1862. However, while officially the “resettlement” of the “mountaineers” started only after that date, the Caucasian administration had long before begun to realize the new policy. 24 This gradual unfolding of the military course of action and the accompanying construction of a mitigating discourse will be examined in the following part.

Military actions and legal constructions

Formally, the Circassians were to be given the option of either re-settling to desig- nated areas further north on the Kuban plain or emigrating into the Ottoman Empire. After it had become evident that the Russian policy of “cleansing” resulted in a major humanitarian disaster with masses of destitute refugees trying to escape into the Ottoman Empire, Russian authorities explained that the “terrible calamity” that had befallen the “mountaineers” resulted from their own stubbornness. According to Russian military writer R.A. Fadeev, the Circassians “turned down the benevolent proposals” made to them by the Tsar, thus suggesting that what happened to them was their own fault. What I will do here then is take a closer look at what these “benevolent proposals” consisted of. My aim thereby is less to judge whether the terms offered by the Russian government were reason- able, but to gain access to an imperial discourse characterized by a strange incon- sistency, seeking to deny, veil and excuse at the same time. 25 While on the one hand stating that the land allocated to the expulsed Circassians was the “most fertile in the whole region,” Russian colonial officials on the other hand were entirely conscious that the proposed “alternative” of migration into Turkey would not be a viable option for most of the people concerned. Thus, general Kartsov in a letter to D.S. Novikov, Russian envoy in Constantinople,


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expressed his expectation that “[n]ot many of them will agree to leave the pictur- esque nature of their native land in order to resettle on the Prikuban steppe.” Another letter by the chief commander of the Caucasian army admits that the

] do not match with what we can propose to them,

that is, with life on the Prikuban steppe, so that the majority of the population will have to be exterminated by [the force of] weapons, before it agrees to fulfill our demands.” 26 Already at the planning stage Russian authorities had calculated that the land set aside for the Circassians would not suffice for all of them, and they definitely included the Circassian aversion to domestic resettlement into their calculations. They also explained that Circassians needed to be assigned considerably less land than the Russian Cossack population, as for the “mountaineers” a large allotment would definitely be “harmful.” An abundance of land would only encourage them to continue with cattle-raising, an “industry [which], when it takes preponderance over agriculture, accustoms them to idleness, and from there on develops and sup- ports their passion for raiding.” 27 From this follows that the aim of the Russian administration was not only to resettle the Circassians but also to re-educate them, so that they would better fit Russian imperial notions of citizenship. The Circassians who preferred domestic

exile were to be settled in special villages closely supervised by the Russian mili- tary. Once encircled by Cossack settlements, they could, “upon the least hostile

] be subjected to total extermination.” In this way, the Caucasian

administration would need less effort to impose the desired lifestyle upon them. One document even expressed the conviction that “the insignificant remainders

of those [re-settled Circassian] tribes, deprived of all liveliness, will vanish without traces in the midst of the predominant Russian population, without

Therefore, we can conclude that

causing the government any new trouble.”

“resettlement” in the Russian colonial mindset—in so far as it was envisaged as an option at all—came to mean the same as forced cultural assimilation, euphe- mistically termed “sblizhenie” (“rapprochement”) in Russian sources. 29 A close reading of the sources reveals that the Caucasian officials responsible for the “cleansing” operations wanted to get rid of as much of the “irredeemably troublesome and obstinate population” as possible, only fearing that a mass expul- sion would “entail huge material difficulties and would meet opposition from side of the Porte.” The decree passed on May 10, 1862 explicitly stated that: “The more migrants of this kind [preferring to emigrate into the Ottoman Empire] will turn up, the less trouble we will have with the future organization of the conquered region.” Resettlement thus took on—speaking in Lacanian terms—the function of a “lure.” 30 It served to detract from the good-riddance mentality of Russian colonial officials and spared them major domestic and international difficulties. As we have already seen, it was quite clear to Russian officials in the Caucasus that the Circassians would not leave their homeland voluntarily, but only when threatened with extermination. The task of the Caucasian military therefore was to make the Circassians understand that, in the words of one contemporary, “for them there remains only one [way of] salvation—to leave for Turkey.” The

endeavor [

“habits of the population [



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instruments employed to achieve this were outright military terror and the systematic destruction of the Circassians’ economic means of existence. Addition- ally, the tsarist government hired individual Circassians which were to express their urgent “wish” to migrate, thereby serving as an “example” for their fellow countrymen and women and creating a wave of panic. The military operations which gained impetus in 1859 after the capture of Shamil, the leader of anti-colonial resistance in Eastern Caucasus, were character- ized by the use of uttermost force and extreme brutality. M.I. Veniukov described the Russian course of action during the final stage of conquest as follows:


War went on with inconceivable, merciless rigor. We advanced step by step, but irreversibly,

] The mountain auls [vil-

lages] were burnt down by whole hundreds, as soon as the snow had passed away, but before

]; the sowings were destroyed by the horses or even

trampled down. The population of the villages, if it could be seized unexpectedly, was quickly led to the closest Cossack stanitzas under military convoy and from there sent to the coast of the Black Sea and further to Turkey. Sometimes, but to the honour of our soldiers, very seldom, cruelties were committed that attained bestiality. 32

Tribe by tribe was driven out of the inhabitable areas, and, when forced to surren- der after having been weakened by hunger and cold, marched off towards the coast by military convoys which ensured that no one could turn back. Even when the majority of the various Circassian groups and sub-groups had already been expelled, military units were dispatched into the mountains with the task of hunting down every single remaining inhabitant. 33 In November 1863 the chief-in-command of the Caucasian army decided that they should now start with the “cleansing” of the coastal plain. While before Russian authorities had abstained from forthright involvement in the transport of the migrants, leaving it to foreign vessels and private initiative to evacuate the destitute refugees from the shores of the Black Sea coast, they now began to actively organize the emigration. As had already been proposed in the decree on Cossack colonization in 1862, the Russian government now proceeded to “facilitate” the emigrations by generously allocating funds to this project. Com- mittees were created at various points on the coast and given the task to arrange for transport, supervise the process of emigration and look after the Circassian refugees camping at the shores. While Russian officials publicly prided themselves for their excellent organiz- ational skills, their care for the natives and their “philanthropy,” the actual circum- stances proved disastrous and a major humanitarian tragedy ensued. Refugees were forced to camp on the shore under the open sky, sometimes for months, until ships arrived to take them to the Ottoman Empire. Weakened by hunger, cold and exhaustion, the refugees easily succumbed to contagious diseases. Even more disastrous were the conditions on the crowded ships which often were not fit for sea. Upon their arrival in the Ottoman Empire, the refugees were dying by the hundreds each day. 35 Ultimately then, the endeavors of the Russian administration were less directed to ensuring the well-being of the

cleansing all land from the mountaineers up to the last person. [

the trees were clothed in green [



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refugees than to staging the migrations in such a way as to make them seem more

acceptable and give them an appearance of legality. Russian sources and historical accounts dealing with the “final subjugation” of the Transkuban area are for the most part characterized by a high degree of sani- tization and the use of euphemisms like the term “final subjugation” itself—after all, the vast majority of the Circassians was not subjugated, but expelled. Other expressions included “cleansing,” “final migration,” “total removal” or “reduction

of the harmful population.”

steer public opinion. Veniukov thus stated:

Russian authorities also made conscious efforts to


Truly [

the question of the fate of the mountaineers relocated to the plains or leaving for Turkey [

] the government, in the news about the Caucasus, seeks to evade as far as possible


and to limit itself to depicting those successes which our colonization makes. The minister of war, bearing in mind that I could be approached with queries on that subject, namely expressed the wish that I would not communicate information that could arouse an outcry of foreigners. 37

As has been mentioned, Russian colonial authorities were especially afraid that the Ottoman Empire would object to the inflow of refugees. They had contacted Ottoman authorities from early on in the process and sought to gain their approval, without however informing them about the true extent of the migrations. An early command issued by the general staff urged to proceed more carefully in dispatch- ing the mountaineers to the Ottoman Empire and to evade any correspondence with consuls in order not to have documents on this issue outside the confines of the Russian Empire. Only later on, when the process of expulsion became more formalized, was a secret order issued to mark the refugees’ passports with “departing for migration.” 38 When Ottoman queries and complaints started to arrive, Russian authorities hurried to explain that the Caucasian Muslims were not petitioning for migration, but for temporal leave in order to worship the grave of Muhammad. The Russian government, so the argument ran, could and did not want to oppose the realization of a desire instilled by religious conviction. 39 The claim that the Circassians were requiring leave for pilgrimage to Mecca was true in so far as the Russian govern- ment had issued instructions which explicitly demanded that Circassians leaving their homeland request “leave” for pilgrimage instead of the permission to migrate. Upon the expiry of their permits the Circassians were considered to have voluntarily migrated. Furthermore, Russian authorities should not hinder the “mountaineers” to sell their property and “not undertake any inquiries as to their objective in selling their property, and also not deliver any reports on this


Fearing international opposition at an early stage of their new


policy, Russian authorities in this way created a legal fiction which helped them to carry on with their plans. The pilgrimage topos was also used in an inverse way in order to curb back- migration. Already in summer 1861 Russian colonial authorities came upon the problem that “our mission in Constantinople did not have a legal foundation for refusing to mark the passports (visa) of those of our emigrants, which presented


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non-expired passports and on this basis had the right to request permits for [return- ing] home as subjects of the Russian empire.” After considering this issue in the committee of ministers, Russian authorities argued that “the departure to Turkey together with [their] property, relatives and household members or after selling all their property provides indubitable evidence of the intention to migrate from the

Now, it was the “mountaineers” who had left their homeland under


the pretext of pilgrimage, hiding their true intention from Russian authorities. Formal rules for dealing with back-migration were set up in September 1861. The purpose obviously was to exclude as many return candidates as possible by introducing a whole catalogue of conditions which could not easily be met. For example, passports issued not to individuals and their closest family members, but to several families or persons would not be taken into consideration, and those willing to return had to indicate that they still possessed a homestead or property in the Caucasus. 42 On May 21, 1864 the Caucasian administration proudly declared that the “final subjugation” of Western Caucasus had been accomplished and that no single recalcitrant tribe was left in the Caucasus. In fact, the Transkuban area had been depopulated almost completely. In 1864, except for the smaller portion re- settled north of the river Kuban, the Circassian population in the Caucasus, estimated between 500,000 and two million, was gone. In autumn 1865 mass migrations of Caucasians were outlawed and effectively put to a halt, which proves once more that the Russian colonial administration was in command of the situation at any time. 44 Also, even if it is true that the local military commanders were the most aggressive in pushing the Circassians into exile, it should not be forgotten that it was the Tsar’s brother Grand Duke Michail Nikolaevich who, in his role as viceroy of the Caucasus, had from the end of 1862 overseen the last and most radical phase of the war. The Russian imperial government was proud of its achievements, staging

elaborate festivities to celebrate the “events being of importance for all educated mankind.” All in all, the policy of “final subjugation” was deemed a huge success

both in domestic and international terms.

In fact, the high degree of premedita-

tion and organization displayed by the Russian colonial administration were quite surprising for a modernizing nineteenth-century state. As we have seen, the decision to get rid of an unwanted population had been made early on, and it was only the details of the “cleansing” operations and the exact modalities of the forced migrations that remained to be specified. This was also acknowl-

edged by contemporaries: one report on the migrations even stated that

] from its

“such an outcome of war in Western Caucasus was anticipated [

very beginning.” 46 As Foucault has argued by drawing on a seventeenth-century plague regulation, states of emergency did not in themselves give rise to plans for excessive interven- tions into the social sphere, but provided an opportunity to put utopian visions into practice. 47 The frequent hints at a new international war in Russian documents on the “cleansing” policy in Western Caucasus can be understood in a similar way. Some of the officials responsible for “final cleansing” might of course have





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sincerely believed in the danger of a hostile incursion by the Black Sea coast. 48 Yet this cannot diminish the fact that the Russian Empire was—as numerous pro- jects drawn up from 1829 onwards show—firmly determined to bring the conquest of Western Caucasus to a successful end. The sense of danger that went along with an impending international war was instrumentalized by Russian colonial officials like Miliutin and Bariatinskii. The topos of war served them as a cover and justi- fication for the new political course, and the alleged necessity to speed up the con- quest left their potential opponents little time to think through the full implications of the new political course and formulate their objections. If city administrators in late seventeenth-century France were fantasizing about the state of plague, Russian officials in 1854 were dreaming of the opportunities the Crimean war presented for the realization of their imperial ambitions in the Caucasus. As early as November 1854 Miliutin had written a memorandum in which he urged not to let the opportunity pass and to already prepare the ground for future politics. 49 Ultimately then, the whole issue of “final subjugation” was bound up with larger visions of re-ordering the political terrain.

“Final subjugation,” governmentality and the dreams of authoritarian modernism

“Final subjugation” was a standard expression when speaking of the conquest of Western Caucasus, but Russian officials did not bother to set out what exactly they meant by it. Our understanding of this contemporary concept can be advanced when taking into account that meaning is differential: according to poststructuralist theory, a single term in itself has no positive content but always draws its meaning from its relations with other terms. What we have to think about then is the suppressed opposite of “final subjugation.” 50 When M.I. Veniukov sought to explain that the subjugation had been “con- ducted in an entirely different way than any former subjugations of Caucasian tribes”, he specified that “in former times wars were usually conducted endlessly

with separate tribes, which after heavy defeats calmed down, but then arose again

and [thereby] made new campaigns necessary [

].” 51 The aim of the new policy

was to make the historical process irreversible. The opposition on which the Russian notion of “final subjugation” relied was that between a segmentary state which limited itself to lose suzerainty with indirect rule and occasional puni- tive expeditions, and a modern territorial state with a homogenized apparatus of administration reaching from the top to the local level. This fits neatly in with the fact that the subjugation of Western Caucasus coincided with the beginning of the Great Reforms: both bore witness to a transformative vision inflicted upon Russian society. What I want to stress here therefore, in keeping with David Scott’s appeal “to impose an historicity to our understanding of the ration-

] of the colonial state,” is the conceptual novelty of Russian colonial

alities [

policy in the late 1850s and early 1860s. 52 Transformative visions had generally come to play an important role in moder- nizing Russia. 53 Their origins lay in a new philosophy of the state that had been


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imported to Russia from Western Europe. There, an ‘art of government’ had gradually come to replace earlier notions about the divine nature of the sovereign and his place in the universe. While the traditional objective of political power had been to guarantee order and restore the divine law in case of disruptions, it was now seen as the ruler’s task to actively promote the “common good” and welfare of his subjects. In the place of its former transcendental goals, rational planning now became the causa finalis of the state. The objective the emerging science of governmentality set itself was to consciously steer and model society and thereby secure its steady movement towards the future. 54 The Western European concept of “government” as the management of both population and territory was introduced into Russia in the eighteenth century. As in Western Europe, the legitimacy of Russian state power now came to rest on the assumption that one of its central purposes was to “improve its population’s skills, vigor, civic morals, and work habits.” Mid-nineteenth century reformers took these ideas further and advocated the replacement of the oppressive division of the population by social orders by the concept of a uniform “citizenship.” In order to achieve this, backward subjects had to be molded into happy and productive citizens, everyone had to be assigned to an economically useful life, instructed and closely monitored. 55 Russian modernizers had from the very start seen colonization as a way to create model communities in the spirit of Enlightenment projects and now the Caucasus as Russia’s first modern colony had become such a field for experimen- tation. 56 In the case of the Transkuban region, this amounted to a complete eradi- cation of the local culture(s). Russian colonial officials by “cleansing” the area from its indigenous population created a tabula rasa which would allow the remodeling of both population and landscape according to colonial needs. Russian military historian Fadeev stated enthusiastically:

Everywhere man will have free rein; in a warm and healthy climate ploughed fields, pastures,

woods and water everywhere, all will be at his hand. [

newly discovered land lies not in the Pacific Ocean, but on the shore of the Black Sea. [

The Kuban province will grow a breed of people we have not heard of even in fairytales. We see Russian mountaineers. A round-faced, fair-haired Russian boy conveys the visiting [female!] tourist on his horses on steep mountain paths [in order] to watch from the neigh- boring valley how the sun rises from out of the snows and [how] the shadow of the mountains

suddenly reaches out over the whole region. 57

] And this sumptuous, one can say,


A new, progressive society was to be built up at the shores of the Black Sea. Not everybody however would be included in this vision. The potential of violence inherent in these plans of improvement can be inferred from the fact that in Fadeev’s romantic depiction the Circassians are missing: in his fantasy they have been replaced by “Russian mountaineers,” by people worthy of the new country. The “problem” with the Circassians was not one of territorial sovereignty alone. With them, the task of establishing the principles of “citizenship” and obedience to the authorities proved to be extremely difficult, if not even altogether impossible.


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The “obstinacy” of the Transkuban population, as it was understood by the Russian colonizers, was an obstinacy to adhere to their notions of progress and a rejection of the state’s benevolent role as guide on the road to modernity. In the views of Russian statesmen, Western Caucasians were “split into small com- munities or family unions, not governed by any authorities, not having in between them any civil link.” By drawing upon Enlightenment anthropology, the character

of the “mountaineers” was said to mirror the coarse and wild nature of their phys- ical surroundings. They were regarded as an unproductive population lacking any interest in the “improvement” of their lives. Cultural difference was essentialized to a degree where Circassians no longer seemed redeemable. Consequently, they were to be dispensed with and replaced by a “peaceful, hard-working and indus- trious population.” Military historian Fadeev bluntly stated: “The land of the Transkuban people was needed by the state, [while] in themselves there was no necessity at all. Regarding the production of national wealth ten Russian peasants produce more than 100 mountaineers.” Thus, the fear of losing large numbers of indigenous workforce, which is often thought to have kept in check the extermi- natory intent of colonial regimes, did not work here anymore. 58 The “removal” of the Circassians formed part of an all-encompassing project of modernization. This, I think, can also explain why those advocating the most violent means for subjugating the Circassians were known both in Russia and abroad as modern-minded liberals: “final subjugation” can be understood as an elitist conception of radical reformers, a Russian version of authoritarian modern-

It was as an instrument to enforce visions of a new order when other

ism. 59

methods had failed to bring about the desired state. While it is true that some pre-modern states had used resettlement in order to secure their power in volatile areas, this was something conceptually different from the Russian expulsion of the Circassians. In Russia, it was only during the eighteenth century, that is, when the Western “art of governance” was introduced, that the first instances of organized state peasant resettlement took place. 60 In the pre-modern Ottoman Empire, deportations, known as “su¨rgu¨n,” relied on the “cultural recognition of the strength created by ethnic heterogeneity and openness to refugees from different lands.” They were used to bring together different groups in the same region, to promote difference and not homogeneity. Russia’s aim in Western Caucasus in contrast, was the “numerical superiority” of the

Russian population, with the colonization by Armenians and Greeks being only second-best options which became necessary because of the difficulties the unfamiliar ecological environment posed to Russian settlers. 61 This is not to say that Russian colonial officials aimed at creating an “ethni- cally” homogeneous Caucasus, which would indeed be anachronistic as Russians at that time did not yet possess a clear concept of “ethnic group.” Rather—while not completely devoid of some kind of Russian-orthodox chauvinism—Russian imperial politics aimed at a kind of standardization associated with the creation of a modern and administratively uniform empire. Its objective was less outright Russification than the production of a uniform citizen-subject. 62 While only a couple of years after the final conquest the failure of Cossack colonization had


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to be at least partly admitted and the grand utopian visions of a land of plenty had died down, what stayed was the conviction that the policy of “final subjugation” had been a huge political success. According to the report of the Caucasian viceroy on the so-called resettlement of the mountaineers to Turkey

these facts of migration show, that the government can make use of this gravitation of the

mountaineers to Turkey [ venient outlet for the rude [

] for its own interests, as a most true means for offering a con-

] obstinacy and the religious fanaticism, which, to a greater or

smaller degree always appears when any important reform is to be introduced into the lives of the mountaineers. 63

Russian colonial authorities had by now realized that what they held in their hands was a new, powerful instrument of authoritarian modernization. For someone to whom uprisings and political unrest seemed to be expressions of a “sickly irritation of the social organism,” expulsion and forced migrations func- tioned as political blood-letting. It would both rid the government of the most radical elements and make it easier for the state to mould those subjects that remained. As the Caucasian viceroy explained, the “final subjugation” of the Transkuban region had had a double effect: “on the one hand, it freed space for the colonization of the lands left vacated by it [the “mountaineer” population], and on the other hand, it considerably facilitated organizing on a new basis that part of the mountain population of Western Caucasus that had stayed in its homeland.” 64 The overarching aim remained to bring about blagoustroistvo, meaning “improvement,” but also carrying notions of bliss achieved by the “correct” organ-

ization of a territory and its people. Here then, instead of being mutually exclusive projects, the practice of civilizing or disciplining and the practice of cleansing

came to support and complement each other.

the colonial realm there was no historical procession from a restrictive, exterior form of power to a more internal, or “disciplinary” power. Rather, at the same time as power relations became internal, they also appeared to take the form of external structures. The task as described by a French officer in Algeria therefore was “to capture their minds after we have captured their bodies.” 66 Claims that Russian policy in Western Caucasus was bent upon a civilizing mission and not upon excluding the Circassians and forming a homogenized Caucasus therefore somewhat miss the point. 67 In Russia, the expulsion of the Circassians (as exterior, restrictive form of power) was designed and implemented during precisely the period in which the concept of imperial citizenship became fully formed and was firmly integrated into Russian policy. This is not as surprising as it may seem at first glance, as modern Russian notions of governmentality had relegated the citizen to the status of a working tool, or “dead mass” that was only put into motion by the monarch. 68 With the “final subjugation” of Western Caucasus, Russia had crossed the threshold to the era of modern population politics with both its “positive,” con- structivist and destructive aspects. The expulsion of the Circassians had effected a profound change on the ground: by 1864, “cleansing” had definitively entered

As Timothy Mitchell argued, in



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the state’s repertoire for dealing with recalcitrant subject populations and from thereon could be reactivated in case of need.

From imperial “cleansing” to Soviet terror: actualizations

The official end of the “Caucasian War” had not yet been declared when Russian colonial authorities, apparently encouraged by their successes in Western Cauca- sus, already thought of applying the new technique in Eastern Caucasus for the “final subjugation of the Chechens.” In spite of the fact that organized resistance had been broken already in 1859, Russian authorities were not yet satisfied with the state of Chechnya. They criticized the unsystematic course of action in settling Eastern Caucasus, so that “the Russian population mingled in a disorderly fashion with the indigenous and in this dispersed state cannot show that decisive influence, which would be expected of it.” Russian colonial authorities therefore proposed partial eviction for “weakening the Chechen tribe” and “thinning” it out. Again, the ambition to civilize and compulsory relocation were understood as comp- lementary means: for “as long as civilization does not weaken the fanaticism of the mountaineer,” he had to be kept in check by repressive measures. 69 While at the very start of the discussion it seemed unclear whether the govern- ment should use force to induce the emigration of the Chechens, it was soon decided to revert to a “peaceful way,” by “renewing among the mountaineers of the Terek region the inclination to resettle to Turkey.” The Chechens were to be made to leave of their own volition. 70 Russian authorities proved to be quite inventive in the business of preparing Chechen minds for migration. It was decided to choose some of the most popular figures from among the indigenous population and offer them recompense for setting an example. By expressing their wish to migrate and placing them- selves at the head of the groups, they should make the rest follow them. Proclama- tions by “Turkish emissaries” which invited the “mountaineers” into Turkey should be distributed among the population. At the same time, Russian officials carefully sought to hide their interest and participation in the emigrations by making local authorities pretend to oppose them. According to an agreement with the Ottoman Empire, the total number of migrants was limited to 5,000 migrant families. In the initial stage of planning however, the possibility of a much larger emigration had been envisaged. M.T. Loris-Melikov, one of the driving forces for the “resettlement” of the Chechens, had voiced his complaints over the small scale of the project, remarking that “whether one resettles one thousand families or expels all, will entail the same dif- ficulties: therefore would it not be better to get down to realize the whole system now”? The “relocation of the mountaineers” was thus conceived as a larger, longer-term project, and not as a prophylactic measure in the face of an immediate threat. A. Kantemir, who edited the memoirs of Mussa Kundukhov—one of those paid by the Russian administration to lead his fellow countrymen and women into exile—mentions that on the eve of the Russo-Caucasian war of 1877–78 there




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had been even more grandiose plans of relocating Northern Caucasians. Worried that any further migrations of Northern Caucasians into the Ottoman Empire would only strengthen the ranks of the enemy, Russian officials thought about a possible “transfer” of the remaining Northern Caucasians to the Afghan frontier. Here, a “New Caucasus” could be created, which might even serve as a buffer against British interests in the region. 73 After the start of the Russian–Ottoman war of 1877–78 it was Russian official

N. Butkevich who took the issue of “resettlement” up again. In his article called “The Muslim Question in the Caucasus” he regretfully stated that “when it already could be hoped that the whole of Western Caucasus will be completely cleansed from the mountain population, the expulsion [vyselenie] of the mountai-

Contrasting the situation in Western and

Eastern Caucasus, he noticed the relative peace and calm in the Kuban region and went on to suggest that the reason for this “exception” was the different way in which subjugation had been conducted here. Not content with advertising the complete disarmament of the Northern Caucasian mountain population he wrote: “We should also revert to yet another, more vital measure, which should forever close down the Muslim question in the Caucasus—the expulsion of Muslims in the largest scales.” In Butkevich’s view then, the primary marker of difference was religion, with Enlightenment notions of “correct” economic behav- ior in the second place. While Ossetians as “preponderantly Christian” should be

exempted, a general expulsion of the Chechens as “most fanatic, unpromising brigand population” was of utmost necessity. If not accomplished on a voluntary basis it should be brought about by way of force. 75 Butkevich’s plan was not realized, and neither was that of creating a Caucasian

mountain republic in Central Asia. Yet, the “will” to expel Northern Caucasians did not die down, and emigrations kept surfacing periodically, so that Russian

Why then did the

statesmen saw them as an “already normal phenomenon.”

migrations after 1864 remain relatively limited in scope and less openly violent than those of the Circassians? Why did the intention of getting rid of all the “mountaineers” largely remain in the stage of planning? Possible reasons were the difficulties experienced with Cossack colonization in Western Caucasus, the fear of Ottoman and international reactions and the missing pretext of war. 77 Even more important, geographical conditions in Eastern Cauca- sus were less favorable for mass migrations than in Western Caucasus: in the view of a Russian official, the situation in the Kuban oblast had been considerably more convenient. Here, with the Black Sea coast “at hand,” the Circassians could easily be sent away without calling forth the “concern of [local] authorities for holding the population back.” In the Terek oblast on the contrary, the “enclosed [nature] of

the region deprives [us] of the possibility to drive the Chechen tribe, restless and little suited for the adoption of citizenship, out of the confines of the oblast.” 78 Before the time of railways, the seaway proved to be the only quick and effi- cient way to get rid of large masses of refugees. Migrations by land, besides putting economic strain on the transit regions, had the disadvantage that Russian authorities had to watch over the migrants until the borders were

neers was suddenly called to a halt.”




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reached, as these could at every moment provoke unrest among the population, call forth the compassion of local observers, or, in the worst case, even change their minds and turn back. If the “mountaineers” left by ship however, Russian authorities could rid themselves of the migrants almost instantly and also reject any responsibility for the further fate of the refugees. The seaway allowed for a much higher degree of emotional and moral detachment and “finality” than was possible with overland migrations. 79 Ultimately then, some of the key reasons for why the extreme radicalism of the period of 1856–65 was not reached again in pre-revolutionary Russia were of an

utterly pragmatic nature. The case of the Circassians was exceptional in so far as here both exterior and conceptual preconditions for the use of extreme violence had been met. These allowed the realization of what would otherwise have remained a pervert’s fantasy and not have been regarded as an outflow of the

In some sense however, the plan to get rid of yet more Northern

Caucasians was only put off “until a more favorable occasion.”

entered the government’s pool of political techniques, “cleansing” and deportation could, under certain conditions, manifest themselves again. These conditions were met in the crisis experienced by the Soviet Union during World War II. Soviet revolutionaries were following the Enlightenment vision of a rational, and therefore just, social order. This gave rise to a veritable cult of scientific planning. The Soviet Union was however not only devoted to a utopian, transformative quest, but also “willing and able to use the full weight of its coercive power to bring these high-modernist designs into being.” 82 In the years of 1943 and 1944 all Chechen, Ingush, Balkar and Karachay were deported from the Caucasus and “resettled” to Central Asia. These operations demanded skillful planning and a high degree of bureaucratic coordination. Soviet authorities herein did not only draw upon the know-how recently acquired by “resettling” diaspora nationalities and so-called “class enemies” from other parts of the empire, but also upon pre-revolutionary, imperial experience. Peter Holquist has aptly demonstrated how the very idea of extracting “bandit elements” evolved out of pre-revolutionary scientific and military traditions. 83 I will there- fore limit myself to pointing out some continuities in the stereotyping of Northern Caucasians, as this could help to answer the questions of why it was again Northern Caucasian peoples who were targeted, and what this tells us about the Soviet civilizational project in general. In the Soviet Union, Northern Caucasians and also Crimean Tatars had once

reason of state.

Once they had



again come to be perceived as barring the way to progress. They opposed Soviet collectivization efforts and their cultures generally displayed a remarkable resilience in the face of Soviet modernization pressure. In their efforts to under- stand and gain control over local society, Soviet officials reverted to pre- revolutionary geographic and ethnographic information and came up once again

with notions of criminal “mountaineer”

culture. 84 What the lazy, unproductive

Caucasian was to imperial Russia, were backward local communities to Soviet authorities. Both imperial Russian and Soviet practices of “othering” of Northern Caucasians were based on notions of economic-political progress. They even used


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the same euphemistic terms when describing the objective of politico-cultural assimilation: “drawing together” (sblizhenie) and “blending” (sliianie). Furthermore, in contradiction to the overtly atheistic nature of Soviet power, there seems to have remained some kind of (secularized) Christian bias in Soviet policymaking. Almost all those deported from the Caucasus were of Muslim faith; the Ossetians, who in imperial times had become regarded as somewhat half-hearted, but recoverable Christians, were exempted. 86 This, I think, points to the Christian-European roots of Enlightenment philosophy and consequently the development of the Soviet concept of citizenship from out of earlier notions of pastoral power. 87 Not only the way the “problem” was formulated by Soviet authorities, but also its “solution” was strikingly similar to that of imperial politics. The Soviet decision to deport Northern Caucasians was justified by the alleged cooperation of the latter with hostile foreign powers. According to Avtorkhanov, Soviet authorities even staged faked foreign espionage activities. Expulsions and deportations were again called “resettlement” with the aim of covering up the involvement of the state and making the migrations seem voluntary. Finally, the Soviet course of action displayed the same tension between molding and melting certain groups into the wider, state-orchestrated society on the one side, and outright physical destruction on the other. Soviet policy makers certainly thought of the re-settlement of Northern Caucasians to Central Asia as a measure leading towards their assimilation, that is, their destruction as an ethnic group without having to kill its individual members. Yet there are also some aspects to Soviet policy that seem to profess the intent of at least partial physical annihilation. In the course of Soviet “cleansing” operations, villagers were in several instances locked into sheds and burnt alive. Generally, those deemed unfit to walk to the nearest railway stations were shot on the spot.

The Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennykh Del [People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs] (NKVD) even seems to have experimented with methods of systematic (serial) physical annihilation. Transport conditions in the trains to Central Asia were bound to cause further deaths: the deportees were locked into cattle wagons without sanitation, and often left without food and water for days. The places the deported were sent to were already known to Soviet authorities for having caused mass death among those unaccustomed to their hard climatic conditions. Furthermore, Soviet authorities did not see to the provisioning of the refugees with housing or clothes, and food rations assigned to “special settlers” were far below the subsistence level. Thus the “resettlement” resulted in a deci- mation of the targeted Northern Caucasian ethnic groups by 20 to 50 percent of their original size. Most studies with a broader focus on Soviet terror and Soviet ethnic cleansing have stressed the Soviet aversion to Nazi-style “zoopolitics” and the Soviet pre-

tension to “redeem” problematic individuals.

of Soviet policy vis-a`-vis Northern Caucasians, a certain amount of ambivalence

However, regarding the character





and undecidedness remains. The construction of cultural difference according to Enlightenment notions of citizenship and “correct” exploitation of natural


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resources could and did under certain conditions devolve into highly essentialized and naturalized antagonisms leading towards physical annihilation. Ultimately, the Soviet deportations of Northern Caucasians can partly be under- stood as the resumption of a project that their imperial predecessors had begun but left incomplete. It even seems that the idea of “re-settling” Northern Caucasians surfaced once more in post-Soviet times: according to Naimark, there is serious evidence that the Russian government developed plans to deport the Chechens once again in the turmoil of the mid-1990s.




With regard to earlier apologetic accounts of the “final subjugation” of Western Caucasus, the most important insight is probably the amount of conscious decision-making in Russian policymaking. Although they may not have foreseen every detail and although the exact modalities remained to be negotiated, Miliutin and Bariatinskii had outlined the new course of action in Western Caucasus from early on. They were entirely aware of and consciously accepted the deadly impact of their policy upon the Circassians. Russian authorities carefully planned and orchestrated their policy of “final subjugation,” so that the “cleansing” of the Transkuban area was carried out with a surprising degree of organization and administrative coordination. After their apparent success in 1864, they realized that they held in their hands a powerful instrument that could be applied to other cases as well. Although no further mass expulsions were realized in the remainder of the nineteenth century, the idea of getting rid of Northern Caucasian “mountaineers” was kept alive to be carried over the revolutionary divide. When taking into account the surprising continuities between Russian and Soviet stereotyping and policymaking in the Caucasus, Soviet nationality policy appears in a somewhat different light than upon assuming a centralist and exclu- sively post-1917 perspective. Focusing upon the Caucasian periphery can help us resolve the paradox of the Soviet Union as both a nation-building and nation- destroying power. Terry Martin sought to give account of this apparent contradic- tion by pointing out that Soviet ethnic cleansing developed out of the project of ethnic consolidation, and that instead of aiming at assimilation it was bent upon emphasizing the distinct primordial essence of Soviet nationalities. 93 In light of the destructive nature of both Russian and Soviet politics in Northern Caucasus, this explanation no longer seems quite appropriate. Assertions of both Russian and Soviet authorities that their policy was generically much more “benign” than that of their European counterparts should therefore not be taken too literally but subjected to a careful examination. 94 The “final subjugation” of the Transkuban region was exceptional in the sense that the perception of Circassians as a “harmful” population that could not be gainfully integrated into the colonial order invalidated fears of losing the indigenous workforce. The tragedy of the Circassian migrations thus reveals that the process of essentialization could work according to different modi. Even in the absence of a biologistic idiom,


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Russian images of “mountaineers” could be essentialized to a degree where any “peaceful” measures seemed inadequate. It has further been shown that the new Russian techniques of “cleansing” and “resettlement” that were first brought to bear upon the Circassians formed part of a larger vision of re-ordering the terrain: they were not contradictory, but complementary to other instruments of state control. Those responsible for the policy of “final subjugation” already carried strong notions of improvement and imperial destiny. “Cleansing” on the one hand served them to get rid of those elements deemed unfit for the project of imperial citizenship, and on the other, it curbed the resistance of those who stayed and facilitated their transformation into subject-citizens. The presence of “voluntary” moments in an overall coercive policy and “philanthropic” measures for securing the “well-being” of “natives” also should not be understood as proof of imperial restraint. The Circassians were confronted with a choice between a greater and a lesser evil at a moment when objectively a choice did not exist any more, having been preempted by the tsarist administration. 95 The use of brutal military force was seen as a precondition for the establishment of more finely-tuned mechanisms of disciplinary power. While European modernity built upon dichotomic oppositions like liberalism and political repression, or mission civilizatrice and extermination, a closer exam- ination of the Russian colonial project reveals the secret complicity of these terms. In Russian Caucasus at least, the way from declaring one’s intent to civilize the natives to the frustrated declaration that “those people” could not be civilized and should be done away with could take only a few steps. 96


My most humble thanks to Peter Holquist, who did not object to my appropriation of his ideas, but encouraged me at the very start of my research.

Notes and References

1 Michel Foucault, L’arche´ologie du savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 2002 (1969)), p 59.

2 Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper, “Between metropole and colony. Rethinking a research agenda,” in:

Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper, eds., Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley, LA /London: University of California Press, 1997), pp 1–56; Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, “Introduction. Tensions of empire: colonial control and visions of rule,” American Ethnologist Vol 16, No 4, 1989, pp 609–621; Amir Weiner, “Introduction: landscaping the human garden,” in: Amir Weiner, ed., Landscaping the Human Garden. Twentieth-Century Population Management in a Comparative Framework (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), pp 1–18, here p 10–11; James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1998), p 97; Robert Aldrich, “Imperial mise en valeur and mise en sce`ne: recent works on French colonialism,” The Historical Journal Vol 45, No 4, December 2002, pp 917–936, here p 935; Stoler and Cooper “Between metropole and colony,” p 5; Enzo Traverso, Moderne und Gewalt. Eine euro- pa¨ische Genealogie des Nazi-Terrors (Ko¨ln: ISP, 2003), especially pp 51–80; Ju¨rgen Zimmerer, “Holocaust und Kolonialismus. Beitrag zu einer Archa¨ologie des genozidalen Gedankens,” Zeitschrift fu¨r Geschichtswis- senschaft No 12, 2003, pp 1098–1119.

3 Justin Stagl, “August Schlo¨zers Entwurf einer ‘Vo¨lkerkunde’ oder ‘Ethnographie’ seit 1772,” Ethnologische Zeitschrift Zu¨rich, No 2, 1974, p 73–92; Han F. Vermeulen, “Origins and institutionalization of ethnography


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and ethnology in Europe and the USA, 1771–1845,” in: Han F. Vermeulen and Arturo A. Roldan, eds., Field- work and Footnotes. Studies in the History of European Anthropology (London/ New York: Routledge, 1995), pp 39–59. I thank Volker Harms for bringing these sources to my attention. See also Gudrun Bucher, “Von Beschreibung der Sitten und Gebra¨uche der Vo¨lker”. Die Instruktionen Gerhard Friedrich Mu¨llers und ihre Bedeutung fu¨r die Geschichte der Ethnologie und der Geschichtswissenschaft (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2002).

4 Simon Werrett has recently published an extraordinary article on this. Simon Werrett, “The panopticon in the garden: Samuel Bentham’s Inspection House and noble theatricality in Eighteenth-Century Russia,” Ab Imperio No 3, 2008, pp 47–70.

5 Peter Holquist, “To count, to extract, and to exterminate. Population statistics and population politics in late imperial and Soviet Russia,” in: Ronald G. Suny and Terry Martin eds., A State of Nations. Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 201), pp 111–144; Peter Holquist, “State violence as technique. The logic of violence in Soviet totalitarianism,” in: Weiner, Landscap- ing, pp 19–45. Publications on the final stage of the Russian war in Western Caucasus in English include:

Willis Brooks, “The politics of the conquest of the Caucasus, 1855–1864,” Nationalities Papers Vol 24, No 4, 1996, pp 649–660; Willis Brooks, “Russia’s conquest and pacification of the Caucasus: relocation becomes a pogrom in the post-Crimean War period,” Nationalities Papers Vol 23, No 4, 1995, pp 675– 686; Justin Carthy, Death and Exile. The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821–1922 (Princeton:

Darwin, 1995); David Cuthell, “The Circassian su¨rgu¨n,” Ab Imperio No 2, 2003, pp 139–167; David Cuthell, “The Muhacirin Komisyonu: An Agent in the Transformation of Ottoman Anatolia,” PhD Disser- tation, Columbia University, 2005; Alan W. Fisher, “Emigration of Muslims from the Russian Empire in the years after the Crimean War,” Jahrbu¨cher fu¨r Geschichte Osteuropas Vol 35, H 3, 1987, pp 356–371; Paul Henze, “Circassian resistance to Russia,” in: Marie B. Broxup, ed., The North Caucasus Barrier. The Russian Advance towards the Muslim World (London: Hurst, 1996), pp 62–11; Austin Jersild, Orientalism and Empire. North Caucasus Mountain Peoples and the Georgian Frontier, 1845–1917 (Montreal:

McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002); Kemal H. Karpat, “The status of the Muslim under European rule: the eviction and settlement of the Cerkes,” Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Afairs Vol 1, No 2, 1979, pp 7–27; Tugan Ch. Kumykov, The Russian War in the Caucasus and the Expulsion of the Cir- cassians (Pyatogorsk: RIA KMV 2004); Mark Pinson, “Demographic Warfare—An Aspect of Ottoman and Russian Foreign Policy, 1854–1866,” unpublished PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 1970; Stephen Shenfield, “The Circassians. a forgotten genocide?,” in: Mark Levene and Penny Roberts, eds., The Massacre in History (New York/ Oxford: Berghahn, 1999), pp 149–162; Dana Sherry, “Social alchemy on the Black Sea coast, 1860–65,” Kritika Vol 10, No 1, Winter 2009, pp 7–30; Brian G. Williams, “Hijra and forced migration from nineteenth-century Russia to the Ottoman Empire,” Cahier du Monde russe Vol 41, No 1, Janviers–Mars 2000, pp 79–108.

6 Peter Redfield, “Foucault in the tropics: displacing the panopticon,” in: Jonathan X. Inda, ed., Anthropology of Modernity: Foucault, Governmentality and Life Politics (Malden: Wiley, 2005), pp 50–79; David Scott, “Colonial governmentality,” Social Text No 43, Autumn 1995, pp 191–220; Peter Pels, “The anthropology of colonialism: culture, history, and the emergence of Western governmentality,” Annual Review of Anthro- pology Vol 26, 1997, pp 163–183; Lynn A. Blake, “Pastoral power, governmentality and cultures of order in nineteenth-century British Columbia,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series Vol 24, No 1, 1999, pp 79–93. According to Geraci, Holquist’s argument is somewhat de-validated with the dis- covery that protogenocidal fantasies were formulated well before the advent of the age of military statistics as depicted by Holquist. However, Geraci bases his critique on a very narrow understanding of statistics as the science of numbers, which allows him to oppose “quantitative-statistical” data and “earlier” ethnic stereo- types in alliance with economic considerations. He thus does not pay enough attention to the fact that in the nineteenth century, state-istics had a much broader meaning: as the modern state’s science of mapping both territory and population it included also geographic and ethnographic information. Statistics then belonged to a whole bunch of new, not yet clearly delineated disciplines which emerged out of govern- mentality as the new philosophy of the modern state. See Robert Geraci, “Genocidal impulses and fantasies in Imperial Russia,” in: A. Dirk Moses, ed., Empire, Colony, Genocide. Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2008), pp 343–371, especially pp 352 and 354–355.

7 For a discussion of Russian expansionist traditions see Hugh Ragsdale, “Russian projects of conquest in the eighteenth century,” in: Hugh Ragsdale, ed., Imperial Russian Foreign Policy (Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp 75–102; Willard Sun- derland, Taming the Wild Field. Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2004), especially p 4. On the absence of clear-cut notions, which has also been termed the “silence of Muscovy”, see Valerie Kivelson, “Claiming Siberia: colonial possession and property holding in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries,” in: Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Abby Schrader and Willard


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Sunderland, eds., Peopling the Russian Periphery. Borderland Colonization in Eurasian History (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), pp 21–40, here p 22, pp 34–36; Michael Khodarkovsky, Russia’s Steppe Fron- tier. The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500–1800 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2002), pp 39–40; Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Abby Schrader and Willard Sunderland, “Russian colonizations. An introduction”, in: Breyfogle, Schrader, Sunderland, Peopling the Russian Periphery, pp 1–18, here p 2.


I do not however pretend that pre-modern Russian behavior towards adjacent non-Russian peoples was non- violent. The treatment of Siberians could be extremely brutal. However, it seems this was not an explicit policy of the Muscovite government, and that it at least displayed some kind of interest in sentencing the offenders. See Kivelson, “Claiming Siberia,” pp 30–31. On early Russian involvement in Northern Caucasus see Marie Bennigsen Broxup, “Introduction: Russia and the North Caucasus,” in: Broxup, North Caucasus Barrier, pp 1–17; Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay, “Cooptation of the elites of Kabarda and Daghestan in the sixteenth century,” in: Broxup, North Caucasus Barrier, pp 18–44; On the Muscovite risk-averse policy towards the steppe see Brian J. Boeck, “Containment vs. colonization: Muscovite approaches to settling the steppe,” in: Breyfogle, Schrader and Sunderland, Peopling the Russian Periphery, pp 41–60, here p 44; see also Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field, p 17; for a discussion of Russia’s early steppe policy and its origins within the political traditions of the Golden Horde, see Khodarkovsky, Russia’s Steppe Frontier, especially pp 46–75.


Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field, p 35; Ronald G. Suny, “The empire strikes out. Imperial Russia, ‘national identity’, and theories of empire,” in: Suny and Martin, A State of Nations, pp 23–66, here p 3; Khodarkovsky, Russia’s Steppe Frontier, pp 226; Breyfogle, Schrader and Sunderland, Peopling the Russian Periphery, p 2.


Khodarkovsky, Russia’s Steppe Frontier, pp 184 and 192. For early Russian projects regarding the Caucasus see

Ragsdale, Russian Projects; Peter Stegnij, “Noch einmal u¨ber das griechische Projekt Katharinas II,” Mitteilun-




gen des O sterreichischen Staatsarchivs Vol 50, 2003, pp 87–111; Edgar Ho¨sch, “Das sogenannte ‘griechische Projekt’ Katharinas IL. Ideologie und Wirklichkeit der russischen Orientpolitik in der zweiten Ha¨lfte des 18. Jahrhunderts,” Jahrbu¨cher fu¨r Geschichte Osteuropas Vol 12, No 2, 1964, pp 168–206. On the geopolitical pro- jects of G.A. Potemkin see O.I. Eliseeva, Geopoliticheskie proekty G. A. Potemkina (Moskva: IRI RAN, 2000).


On the Black Sea trade and Circassian participation in it see Alan Fisher, A Precarious Balance: Conflict,

Trade, and Diplomacy on the Russian-Ottoman Frontier (Istanbul: Isis, 1999); T.V. Polovinkina, Cherkesiia

Bol’ moia. Istoricheskii ocherk (drevneishee vremia – nachalo XX v.) (Maikop: GURIPP Adygea, 2001),


pp 29–79.


Lapin thus states that until the 1810s Russia generally did not plan to establish its control over Northern

Caucasian territory. V.V. Lapin, “‘Ubedit’ nepokornye plemena v prevoschodstve nashego oruzhiia

Voennye plany pokoreniia Kavkaza,” in: I.A. Gordin, ed., Kavkaz i Rossiiskaia Imperiia: proekty, idei, illiuzii


real’nost’. Nachalo XIX- nachalo XX vv (Sankt-Peterburg: Zvezda, 2005), pp 9–29, here p 9; Khodar-

kovsky, Russia’s Steppe Frontier, p 199; one the first political projects dealing with Western Caucasians was “The opinion of admiral Mordvinov on the ways with the help of which it will be more convenient for Russia to gradually attach to itself the Caucasian inhabitants,” written in 1816, reproduced in:

D. Romanovskii, Kavkaz i Kavkazskaia voina. Publichnye lektsii, prochitannye v zale Passazha v 1860 godu general’nogo shtaba polkovnikom Romanovskim (Moskva: GPIB, 2004), pp 275–282.


For the Treaty of Adrianople and subsequent Russian interpretations: Anita L.P. Burdett, ed., Caucasian Boundaries. Documents and Maps 1802–1946 (Oxford: Archive Editions, 1996), pp 21–66.


Some of the plans and projects are reproduced in Gordin, Kavkaz i Rossiiskaia imperiia. The issue of Russian colonial planning is here dealt with only in a precursory fashion, as it will be analyzed in greater detail in a separate article.


RGVIA f. 38, op.1, d. 351, l. 62, l 66 ob.- 67.



Ibid., l 71.


Ibid., l 144–144ob.



Petr Chaikovsky’s proposal is located in RGVIA, f. 864, d. 18014, ch.3, l 13–14; for the proposal of 1863 written by a certain Iachontov see OR RGB f. 169,k.44, d. 33, citation l 2.


RGVIA f. 38, op.1, d. 351, l 258-258ob., l 270-271ob., citation l 258.



For a closer analysis of colonial policymaking concentrating on the period from 1856 to 1859 see Brooks, Politics of the Conquest of the Caucasus, and Brooks, Russia’s Conquest; on Bariatinskii’s influence with Alexander II see Alfred J. Rieber, The Politics of Autocracy. Letters of Alexander II to Prince A.I. Bariatinskii 1857–1864 (Paris: Mouton, 1966 ), p 61–62; Alexander II had already passed over the heads of several important officials in appointing Bariatinskii as viceroy in the first place. See Rieber, The Politics of Auto- cracy, p 64; On Miliutin’s connections to the imperial family see for example D.A. Miliutin, Vospominaniia general-fel’dmarshala Dmitriia Alekseevicha Miliutina 1860–1862 (Moskva: Rossiiskii Archiv, 1999), p 20.


D.A. Miliutin, Vospominaniia general-fel’dmarshala Dmitriia Alekseevicha Miliutina1856–1860 (Moskva:

Rosspen, 2004), p 335; Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1860–1862, p 99–101; Willis Brooks, “The Russian military


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press in the reform era,” in: David Schimmelpenninck Van der Oye and Bruce W. Menning, eds., Reforming the Tsar’s Army. Military Innovation in Imperial Russia from Peter the Great to the Revolution (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2004), pp 107–132, here p 128.

22 On the replacement of Filipson see Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1860–1862, p 97, p 113. On the discussion of “harsh” versus “gentle” measures in autumn 1860 and the difference of opinion between Filipson and Evdo- kimov, see Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1856–1860, pp 474–475. The fact that Evdokimov was assigned to work out the details of the plan has caused some confusion in historiography, so that Evdokimov is occasionally credited with the authorship of the policy of “final subjugation” in Western Caucasus. See for example

S. Esadze, Pokorenie zapadnogo Kavkaza i okonchanie Kavkazskoi voiny (Moskva: GPIB, 2004), p 351.

23 Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1860–1862, p 118.

24 “Polozhenie o zaselenii predgorii zapadnoi chasti Kavkazskago khrebta Kubanskimi kazakami i drugimi pereselentsami iz Rossii”, Voennyi sbornik, t 28, No 11, otd 1, 1862, p 235–284. On Bariatinskii’s early

preparations for the “final subjugation” of Western Caucasus, that is, immediately after the “pacification”

of Eastern Caucasus in 1859 see AKAK T. XII, p 652 (Doc 568). See also Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1860–

1862, p 119; A.L. Zisserman, “Feld’marshal Kniaz A.I. Bariatinskii, Glava IX,” Russkii Archiv 6, 1889, pp 237–267, here pp 249–250; A. Kh. Kasumov, “Okonchanie Kavkazskoi voiny i vyselenie adygov v

Turtsiiu”, Kavkazskaja vojna: uroki istorii i sovremennost. Materialy nauchnoj konferentsii g. Krasnodar, 16–18 maja 1994 g (Krasnodar: Kubanskyi Gosudarstvennyi Universitet, 1995), pp 63–79, here p 68;

A. Kh. Kasumov and Kh. A. Kasumov, Genotsid Adygov (Nal’chik: Logos, 1992), p 149.

25 R.A. Fadeev, Kavkazskaia voina (Moskva: Eksmo, 2005) (reprint, originally published in 1864–1865), here p

187. For the Freud-based interpretation of the inconsistency characteristic of the perpetrators’ response to


their own violence see Slavoj Z izˇek, Violence. Six Sideways Reflections (London: Profile, 2009 (2008)), p 93.

26 “O pereselenii kavkazskich gortsev v Turtsiju,” Voennyi sbornik t 39, No 10, otd III, 1864, pp 164–168, cita- tion p 166; see also “Polozhenie o zaselenii,” p 262; In fact, parts of the land set aside consisted of swamps and unhealthy (malaria-infested) lowlands, see Polovinkina, Cherkesiia – Bol’ moia, p 149. Letter by Kartsov cited according to A.P. Berzhe, Vyselenie gortsev s Kavkaza, reproduced in: Russkie avtory XIX veka o nar- odach central’nogo i severo-zapadnogo Kavkaza, T. 1 (Nal’chik: El-Fa, 2001), pp 279–316, here p 295. The second letter is from November 10, 1863, reproduced in R. Kh. Tuganov, ed., Tragicheskie posledstviia Kavkazskoi voiny dlia Adygov. Vtoraia polovina XIX-nachalo XX veka. Sbornik dokumentov i materialov (Nal’chik: El-Fa, 2000), p 81.

27 See “Polozhenie o zaselenii,” p 262–264, citation p 263. Another fact that has to be taken into account is that there was only “free” land on the Prikuban steppe in so far as it had been vacated by the Nogais, a nomadic group of Tatar origin living on pastoralism, which increasingly came under pressure by the Russian coloniza- tion of the region. On the Nogai migrations see Williams, Hijra, pp 94–98, and “Polozhenie o zaselenii,” p 264. According to some calculations, Cossacks received as much as 10–12 times the share than was awarded

to re-settled natives, see Z. Kumykov, “Vopros o vyselenii Adygov v Turtsiju v 50-60-ch godach XIX veka v

istoricheskom Kavkazovedenii,” Nalchik 1998, p 20; I. Abramov, “Kavkazskie gortsy,” Materialy po istorii cherkesskogo naroda, Kiev 1991, pp 53–86, here p 74; The stereotype that the local way of securing one’s livelihood consisted of raiding one’s neighbors was common in Russian ethnographic descriptions of North- ern Caucasians (see also part IV on Enlightenment anthropology).

28 Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 156, citation p 249. Polovinkina, Cherkesiia, p 181. According to Polovinkina, some of the regulations actually set forth requested that any inhabitant obtain a written permit before leaving his village, even if it was only for hunting (Ibid., p 181); G.A. Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev v Turtsiiu. Materialy po istorii gorskikh narodov (Rostov na Don: Sevkavkniga, 1925), citation p 16.

29 See for example S. Ivanov, “O sblizhenii gortsev s Russkimi na Kavkaze,” Voennyi sbornik t 7, No 6, 1859, ch. neoff., pp 541–549; N. Avgustinovich, “Po povodu stat’i: O sblizhenii gortsev s Russkimi na Kavkaze,” Voennyi sbornik t 8, No 7, 1859, ch. neoff., pp 201–214; see also “Ustroistvo Kubanskoi oblasti,” Voennyi Sbornik t 48, No 4, 1866, otd. III, pp 168–170.

30 Miliutin, Vospominaniia 1856–1860, p 449; “Polozhenie o zaselenii,” p 264. For the lacanian concept of


“lure” see Slavoj Z izˇek, The Parallax View (Cambridge: MIT Press 2006), p 304.

31 Fadeev, describing the military actions taking place in the Transkuban region writes: “The mountaineers had

to be exterminated by half, in order to make the other half lay down its arms.” Fadeev, Kavkazskaia voina,

p187; citation: Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 198. See also the document (ibid. p 40), stating that “out-settling them from their mountain dens to the plain can be achieved in no different way than by the use of force.” On the Russian practice of bribing individual Circassians to boost the migrations see A. Kh. Sheudzhen, ed., Zemlia Adygov (Maikop: Adygea, 2004), p 181; Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 228; Polovinkina, Cherkesiia,

p 168.

32 Miliutin himself described these as characterized by “merciless severity,” see Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 56;

M.I. Veniukov, “K istorii zaseleniia Zapadnogo Kavkaza,” Russkaia starina t XXII, 1878, pp 249–270,


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citation p 249. On the brutality of the Russian campaign see also A. Fonvill, “Poslednyi god voiny Cherkessii za nezavisimost’ 1863–1864 g. iz zapisok uchastnika-inostrantsa,” especially p 37, and I. Abramov, “Kavkazskie gortsy”, especially p. 60, both reproduced as V. Dudko, ed., Poslednyi god voiny Cherkessii za nezavisimost’ 1863–1864 gg. Kavkazskie gortsy (Kiev: UO MSHK MADPR, 1991).


See the report reproduced in T. Kh. Kumykov, Vyselenie Adygov v Turtsiiu – posledstvie Kavkazskoi voiny (Nal’chik: El’brus, 1994), pp 47–76.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 80–82, p 173; “Polozhenie o zaselenii,” pp 277–278. For more details on these committees and their work see the documents reproduced in Kumykov, Vyselenie.


Jersild, Orientalism, p 24; Abramov, Kavkazskie gortsy,” pp 59–60; N. Bereedzh, Izgnaniia Cherkesov (Prichiny i Posledstviia) (Maikop: Adygea, 1996), p 126–128; Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 92, 142–143, 148–149; Kumykov, Vyselenie, pp 95–96.


See for example Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 26, 53, 173.


Ibid., p 151.


T. Kh. Kumykov, Problemy Kavkazskoi voiny i vyselenie cherkesov v predely Osmanskoi imperii. 20-70-e gg. XIX v.: Sbornik arkhivnykh dokumentov (Nal’chik: El’brus 2001), p 181–182; Kumykov, Vyselenie, p 122.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 41.


Kumykov, Problemy, p 85.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 34 and 38.



case of doubt whether the owners of the passports still possessed property in the Caucasus, the local

Russian authorities were to make enquiries in order to validate the truth of these claims. See also the document reproduced in Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 38 which expressed the intention to put a hold on back-migration as far as possible, Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 43, p 35.


“Po povodu okonchaniia kavkazskoi vojny,” Voennyi sbornik t 38, No 8, otd 3, 1864, pp 136–148, here pp 136 and 138. There were no reliable estimates concerning the overall number of the Transkuban population prior to the forced emigrations. According to the report of the commission for the “resettlement” of the “mountaineers” to Turkey from February 12, 1865, the number of migrants from the Transkuban region alone amounted to 315,000 individuals, while together with Nogai migrants from the Kuban steppes and other groups the figure of 418,292 was reached (document reproduced in Kumykov, Vyselenie, p 39). This information however was based on the reports of the emigration committees set up at various points of the Black Sea coast for the last stage of expulsion. While pretending to be able to present highly precise numbers, these neither included those that left without the commissions’ “support” or before these were set up in autumn 1863. Nor do they take into account the casualties of Russian economic destruction and

Russian military actions, or the victims of epidemics that broke out as a consequence of Russian presence


the region. According to Fadeev (Fadeev, Kavkazskaia voina, p 187), “not more than the tenth part of

those who died fell through weapons; the rest fell because of the deprivations and hard winters, which they spent under snow-storms in the woods and on naked rocks.” An official estimate in the journal of the

War Ministry (“O pereselenii kavkazskich gortsev v Turtsiiu”, Voennyi sbornik t 39, No 10, otd. III, 1864,


168) assumes a total of 400,000 “mountaineers” leaving Western Caucasus in the entire period from



to 1864. However, even when taking into account that the most massive migrations took place in


and 1864, this number seems very small. According to an English newspaper article, Russian authorities


had in May 1864 still spoken about 100,000 migrants (Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 129). The figures cited by Dana Sherry concerning the population remaining in the Kuban region, which seem to cut down the number of migrants, unfortunately do not match with the documents she refers to (Sherry, “Social Alchemy,” pp 7–8).


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 207, 215.


Brooks, Russia’s Conquest, p 681; “Po povodu okonchaniia,” p 138.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 174.


Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison (Paris: Gallimard, 2002 (1975)), pp 231–232. On the “historical soils” particularly favorable for the flourishing of high-modernist ideology such as wars see also Scott, Seeing Like a State, especially p 97.


On the fear of a new international war see for example Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 89, 95; AKAK T. XII, p 487

(Doc. 425). On the “historical soils” particularly favorable for the flourishing of high-modernist ideology such


wars see Scott, Seeing Like a State, p 97. In Weiner’s view total wars and their consequences have been

both the embryo and the outlet for governmental transformative schemes. Weiner, Introduction, p 4.


RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 6661, cˇ.1, 15.11.1854 -16.6.1856, ll 1-6 ob. On the discussion about whether or not to recall the 13th and 18th infantry divisions from Caucasus as an indirect approach of the issue of “final sub- jugation” see also Rieber, Politics of Autocracy, p 63.


According to Derrida, Western culture is based on binary oppositions, with the two parts of the opposition forming a hierarchy. While one term is highly valued, the other is found wanting. However, the meaning


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of each depends on the trace of the other that inhabits its definition. See Catherine Belsey, Poststructuralism. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp 8, 75.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, p 197.



Scott, Colonial Governmentality, p 197.


Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field, p 45.


Colin Gordon, “Governmental rationality: an introduction,” in: Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller, eds., The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality (London/Toronto/ Sydney: Harvester Wheat- sheaf, 1991), pp 1–51, here p 10; Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and Ambivalence (Cambridge: Polity

Press, Blackwell, 2004 (1991)) p 20; Gordon describes the new philosophy of political sovereignty as one in which the principles of state were no longer part of and subjected to the divine, cosmo-theological order of the world, but immanent in the state itself (Gordon, “Governmental rationality,” p 9); Michel Fou- cault described this transformation as one from a “juridical,” restrictive model of power to a positive, gener- ating one. See Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualite´ I. La volonte´ de savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 2003 (1976)), pp 113, 118, and Timothy Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt (Berkeley, LA and London: University of Cali- fornia Press, 1991 (1988)), p XI; Michel Foucault, “Governmentality,” in: Burchell, Gordon and Miller, Fou- cault Effect, pp 87–104; Marc Raeff, The Well-Ordered Police State. Social and Institutional Change through Law in the Germanies and Russia, 1600–1800 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press 1983), especially pp 3, 5, 26, 40, 50, 149–150.


Willard Sunderland, “Imperial space: territorial thought and practice in the eighteenth century,” in: Jane Burbank, Mark von Hagen and Anatolii Remnev, eds., Russian Empire. Space, People, Power, 1700– 1930 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007), pp 33–66, here p 49; Richard Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, Vol I, From Peter the Great to the Death of Nicholas I (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), cited according to Ronald


Suny, “The empire strikes out. Imperial Russia, ‘national identity’, and theories of empire,” in: Suny

and Martin, State of Nations, pp 23–66, here pp 39–40; Sunderland, Wild Field, pp 45, 115; Raeff, Well- Ordered Police State, pp 5, 149; citation Scott, Seeing Like a State, p 91; Jersild, From Savagery, p 101– 102; On the notion of “police government” as the universal assignation of subjects to an economically useful life see Gordon, Governmental Rationality, p 12. On the imperial Russian concept of citizenship see Austin L. Jersild, “From savagery to citizenship: Caucasian mountaineers and Muslims in the Russian Empire,” in: Daniel R. Brower and Edward J. Lazzerini, eds., Russia’s Orient. Imperial Borderlands and Peoples, 1700–1917 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997), pp101–114; Dov Yar- oshevski, “Empire and citizenship,” in: Brower and Lazzerini, Russia’s Orient, pp 58–79; Joseph Bradley, “Subjects into citizens: societies, civil society, and autocracy in Tsarist Russia,” The American Historical Review Vol 107, No 4, 2002, pp 1094–1123.


Rieber, Politics of Autocracy, p 270; Sunderland (Sunderland, Imperial Space, p 50) writes that already in the eighteenth century, of “all the empire’s steppes the most attractive in this respect were those of the northern Black Sea region and the Northern Caucasus” and these “quickly emerged as the government’s premier venue for colonization-related planning.” See also Alfred J. Rieber, “Colonizing Eurasia,” in: Breyfogle, Schrader

and Sunderland, Peopling the Russian Periphery, pp 265–279, here p 272, for the perception of Russian rulers that it was somehow easier to construct a progressive, ideal society on the periphery, outside the old center of Russian life; D. Scott, Colonial Governmentality, here p 197; on the Russian contemporary perception that the policy in Western Caucasus represented a new departure, see Holquist, To Count, p 117–119.


Fadeev, Kavkazskaia voina, pp 210–211. This depiction strikingly resembles the scenario evoked by British author William Reade: young girls are sitting at the banks of the river Niger, which had been turned into a romantic river like the Rhine, and are reading with tears in their eyes a short story titled “The Last of the Negroes.” See Traverso, Moderne und Gewalt, p 66. On the European notion of “dying races” see Patrick Brantlinger, “‘Dying races’: rationalizing genocide in the nineteenth century,” in: Jan N. Pieterse and Bhikhu Parekh, eds., The Decolonization of Imagination. Culture, Knowledge and Power (London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1995), pp 42–56.


Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 17 and 154; Fadeev, Kavkazskaia voina, p196; Weiner, Introduction, p 9; Zimmerer, Holocaust, p 1111. Enlightenment anthropology emphasized the role of “climate” in the shaping of human culture(s). S.M. Bronevskii for example in his ethnographic description from 1823 wrote: “As manners are closely related to climate, way of life and upbringing, one can say that the

manners of wild people, leaving between precipices and snow-covered mountains, must be coarse. [

one word, war is the normal condition and the way of life of these peoples.” S.M. Bronevskii, Noveishiia Izvestiia o Kavkaze, sobrannyia i popolnennyia Semenom Bronevskim: V 2 tomach (Sankt-Peterburg: IV RAN, 2004), pp 38–39; for a more theoretical reflection see K.M. Ber, “Ob etnograficheskich issledovaniiach v obshche i v Rossii v osobennosti”, Zapiski RGO, Kn.1, Sankt-Peterburg 1846, pp 93–115. On the place of climate theory in early anthropology, see Karl-Heinz Kohl, Entzauberter Blick. Das Bild vom Guten Wilden




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(Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1986), especially p 116. See also Vladimir Bobrovnikov, “Bandits and the state: designing

a ‘traditional’ culture of violence in the Russian Caucasus,” in: Burbank, von Hagen and Remnev, Russian

Empire, pp 239–267.

59 Radical Westernizer Petr Chaadaev had even suggested that the whole of Russia could be regarded as some kind of tabula rasa. He argued that the absence of history and tradition in Russia (that is, Russian “backward- ness”) presented the unique opportunity for experimenting with new ideas and solving the questions which had arisen in “older” societies. See Suny, Empire, p 49; on the concept of authoritarian modernism see Scott, Seeing Like, pp 87–102; on the “ideologically driven elite” as possible candidate for genocidal policies see Mark Levene, Genocide in the Age of the Nation State. Vol.1, The Meaning of Genocide (London and New York: Tauris, 2005), pp 106–117.

60 Foucault’s warning not to adopt too high a time horizon in dealing with the emergence of new concepts should be taken seriously here. As a discourse “is anything but the place where objects, that have been installed in

advance, are laid down and superposed, as on a simple surface of inscription,” it should not be traced back “to the far-away presence of the origin,” but rather examined in the play of the moment (Foucault, Arche´ologie, pp 37 and 58). On the emergence of Russian resettlement politics see Willard Sunderland, “Peasants on the Move: State Peasant Resettlement in Imperial Russia, 1805–1830s,” Russian Review Vol 52, October 1993, pp 472–485, here p 473. See also Nolte on the introduction of religiously motivated mass-resettlement: Hans- Heinrich Nolte “Umsiedlungen als Instrument der russischen Mission im Wolgaraum 1740–1748,” Jahrbu¨- cher fu¨r Geschichte Osteuropas Vol 45, H. 2, 1997, pp 198–209, here pp 199–200. A noteworthy detail of this development is that it was A. L. Schlo¨zer in his role as foreign specialist who suggested to the Russian rulers that the essence of the state lay in its land and its people, and that the relationship between territory and population had to be configured by state intervention. See Sunderland, Imperial Space, p 49. The Muscovite state had displayed no interest in empty, virgin territory, and therefore did not seek to erase indigenous pres- ence. See Kivelson, Claiming Siberia, pp 34 and 36. Kivelson accounts for this by pointing out that the tsar needed the affirming testimony of the indigenous population in order to legitimize his claims to sovereignty (Ibid, p 35). Even after the conquest of Kazan, which saw a partial elimination of the indigenous elite, the Muscovite state staged the re-establishment of political control as a “joint project.” See Matthew P. Romaniello, “Grant, settle negotiate: military servitors in the middle Volga region,” in Breyfogle, Schrader and Sunderland, Peopling, pp 61–77, and also Andreas Kappeler, Rußlands erste Nationalita¨ten. Das Zaren- reich und die Vo¨lker der Mittleren Wolga vom 16. bis 19. Jahrhundert (Ko¨ln and Wien: Bo¨hlau, 1982), pp


61 Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference. The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp 128–130; RGVIA, f. 38, op. 7, d. 351, l 26; See also the document from March 29, 1867 reproduced in Kumykov, Problemy Kavkazskoi voiny, pp 405–407, especially p 406: “It is not to be doubted that from a political point of view it would be more agreeable

] but the experience

for the government to have only a purely Russian population in the coastal region [

of such a colonization [

] turned out to be quite disadvantageous in terms of economical well-being.”

62 The observation that Russian administrators in nineteenth-century Caucasus pursued the aim of normalization

and homogenization has sometimes been confused with the claim that its foremost attention was bent upon Russification. This ignores that there are different ways of conceiving and creating uniformity which do not all have to rely on the creation of national or ethnic categories, and that therefore the scope of the project is much wider. Thus, the opposition between colonial/imperial and nationalist modes of governance (see for example Sherry, Social Alchemy, p 29, and Suny, Empire, p 36) is misleading. Its popularity may have to do with the widespread belief that nationalism is inconsistent with liberal-democratic reforms, while, as Kaspe points out quite correctly, it is rather the logical consequence of liberal-democratic modernization. (Sviatoslav Kaspe, “Imperial political culture and modernization in the second half of the nineteenth century,” in: Burbank, von Hagen and Remnev, Russian Empire, pp 455–493, here p 466.

63 Vsepoddanneishii otchet glavnokomanduiushchago Kavkazskoiu Armieiu po voenno-narodnomu upravleniiu za 1863-1869gg. (S.-Peterburg: Voennaia Tipografiia, 1870), p 110.

64 Ibid, pp 109 and 116. The Russian colonial mindset here bears remarkable similarities to what Zygmunt Bauman sees as the characteristics of “ordinary” genocide: “‘Ordinary’ violence is rarely, if at all, aimed


the total annihilation of the group; the purpose of the violence [


is to destroy the marked category



as a viable community capable of self-perpetuation and defense of its own self-identity. If this is the

case, the objective of the genocide is met once (1) the volume of violence has been large enough to undermine the will and resilience of the sufferers, and to terrorize them into surrender to the superior power and into the

acceptance of the order it imposed; and (2) the marked group has been deprived of resources necessary for the continuation of the struggle.” Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Cambridge and Maldon:

Polity, 2007 (1989)), p 119.

65 I thank Pieter Lagrou and Aude Merlin for straightening out my thoughts on this issue.


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66 Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt, p XII, p 95; Pels (Pels, Anthropology of Colonialism, p 176) makes a similar point by cautioning that an emphasis on governmentality as a pervasive form of power should not obscure that the one’s hegemony was often the other’s coercion.

67 For a recent approach working with this opposition see Sherry, Social Alchemy, p 8. Jersild—although clearly describing the Russian policy in Western Caucasus as one of forcefully exiling the Circassians—makes a similar mistake. He understands exile and conquest as remnants of the past that continue to resonate with some administrators, while this “former historical tradition” has generally been replaced by citizenship as a progressive model for integrating non-Russian peoples into the imperial political order. See Jersild, From Savagery, pp 101–103. While Yaroshevski somewhat questions Jersild’s “more customary, modern liberal vision of citizenship” and locates the idea of citizenship more firmly within the imperial milieu, he too describes the emergence of grazhdanstvennost (citizenship) as part of the search for an alternative to military repression, when the limits of the latter had become apparent during the last stage of Great Caucasian War (Yaroshevski, Empire and Citizenship, pp 61 and 75).

68 On the period of 1856–67 as last stage in the development of the concept of citizenship see Yaroshevski, Empire and Citizenship, pp 62 and 65. The expression “dead mass” is from August Ludwig Schlo¨zer in his preface to the book on Catherine the Great’s accomplishments, see Yaroshevski, Empire and Citizenship, pp 62–63. The paradox of the simultaneous presence of “liberalizing” and highly repressive moments in the concept of citizenship is however not a Russian specificity. David Scott thus stresses that modern political rationality works not in spite of, but through the construction of the space of free social exchange, and through the construction of a subjectivity normatively experienced as the source of free will and rational, autonomous agency (Scott, Colonial Governmentality, p 201).

69 The following is based on the archival documents published in Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, here pp 9, 12, 40–41, 46, 50. Other euphemistic expressions include “the final settlement of the Chechen question” (Ibid., p 17) or the “final elimination of the possibility of insurrections in the future” (Ibid., p 44). “Vsepoddanneishii otchet,” p 111.

70 Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, pp 17, 39 and 69. This shows again the inextricable interweaving of repressive and productive moments characteristic of modern political power. Interestingly, it was Jeremy Bentham who had suggested to artificially arrange things in a way so that people, while following their own self-interest, would do as they should (Scott, Colonial Governmentality, pp 202–203). It is only in this very limited sense that the migrations of 1865 can be called voluntary, and with self-interest in this case meaning the objective of self-preservation in the presence of an overpowering threat.

71 Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, pp 19, 48, 51, 53, 78. Tellingly, these persons were also to be allowed to return to the Caucasus within one year if they did not wish to settle down in the Ottoman Empire (see p 51). One of these was Ossetian Mussa Kundukhov, who later on was accused of being a traitor to his own people. However, it is possible that he had been blackmailed into this cooperation, see ibid., p 198. For Kundukhov’s own account see his memoirs: Les Me´moires du Ge´ne´ral Moussa-Pacha Koundoukhov (1837–1865) (Paris: Editions du Caucase, 1939).

72 Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, pp 74, 137–138, citation pp 39–40. In the Chechen case, inducing “voluntary” migration was termed a “slow” way of dealing with the “mountaineer” problem in contrast with forced relocation inside the confines of the Russian Empire. See Ibid., pp 36–37.

73 A. Kantemir, “Moussa-Pacha Koundoukhov”, Les Me´moires du Ge´ne´ral, pp 5–14, here p 13.

74 Reproduced in Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 237–247, here p 239.

75 Ibid., pp 243–244, 246.

76 Citation in “Vsepoddanneishii otchet,” p 115; For a documentation of the emigration to the Ottoman Empire after 1865 see Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 223 onwards.

77 Thus, a post-1864 document reproduced in Dzagurov (Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, p 184) states that large- scale emigrations carried the danger of a total standstill of the economy. Another possible reason is that now that the Northern Caucasians were more aware of what mass migrations meant both for those who left and those who remained, they more steadfastly resisted to Russian efforts at pushing them out by producing a sense of panic. Indeed, several indigenous leaders had started to counteract any tendencies to migrate, urging their fellow countrymen and -women to stay and face Russian oppression, see Kasumov, Kasumov, Genotsid Adygov, p 159 and Bereedzh, Izgnaniia, pp 164–175. An additional cause was probably the Russian fear that the situation could run out of hand and lead to a general uprising in Northern Caucasus (see Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, pp 69, 83).

78 Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, pp 16 and 67.

79 This interpretation was inspired by Ilya Vinkovetski’s examination of the colonization of Siberia and Russian America. Vinkovetsky argued that the slow route overland versus the seaway gave rise to remarkable differences in the way “natives” were perceived and treated by Russian colonists. See Ilya Vinkovetsky, “Circumnavigation, Empire, Modernity, Race: The Impact of Round-the-World-Voyages on Russia’s


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Imperial Consciousness,” Ab Imperi Nos 1-2, 2001, pp 191–210. For efforts of Russian authorities to ban emigrations by land see Tuganov, Tragicheskie, pp 18 and 20; Kumykov, Vyselenie, pp 102–102.

80 See also the statement in the report of the Caucasian viceroy that the indirect course of action pursued with the Chechens was “the only practical in the given case” (“Vsepoddanneishii otchet,” p 111). Weiner in this context speaks of a “unique confluence” of ideologies, social scientific paradigms and institutions with the desire to transform the existing order, which took place under the growing power of the modern state. Weiner, Introduction, pp 1–2. See also Scott, Seeing, p 88.

81 This expression was used by a contemporary when discussing possible Ottoman objections to the impending

Chechen migrations of 1865, see Dzagurov, Pereselenie gortsev, p 35.

82 For a detailed discussion of the factors giving rise to the most tragic episodes of state-initiated social engin- eering see Scott, Seeing, especially pp 4–5. Citation ibid., p 5; Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain. Stalinism as a Civilization (Berkeley, LA: University of California Press, 1995), pp 6–8; Lynne Viola “The aesthetic of Stalinist planning and the world of the special villages,” in: Breyfogle, Schrader and Sunderland, Peopling, pp 189–212, especially p 196.

83 Holquist, To Count, especially pp 126–127; Holquist, State Violence, pp 20 and 25; Abdurakhmanov Avtor- khanov, “The Chechens and the Ingush during the Soviet period and its antecedents,” in: Bennigsen Broxup, Caucasus Barrier, pp 146–194, here p 184; Terry Martin, “The origins of Soviet ethnic cleansing,” The Journal of Modern History, Vol 70, No 4, December 1998, pp 813–861, here p 823; Marie Bennigsen Broxup, “The last Ghazawat. The 1920–1921 uprising,” in: Bennigsen Broxup, Caucasus Barrier, pp 112–145, here p 131; also Isabelle Kreindler, “The Soviet deported nationalities: a summary and an update,” Soviet Studies, Vol 38, No 3, July 1986, pp 387–405, here p 390.

84 Norman M. Naimark, Fires of Hatred. Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2001), pp 95–96 and 106. On the reliance on pre-revolutionary ethno- graphic knowledge see Avtorkhanov, “The Chechens,” pp 164 and 169; see also Francine Hirsch, Empire of Nations. Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2005), p 10.

85 The report of the Caucasian viceroy speaks of the “final blending of the mountain nationalities with Russia,” see “Vsepoddanneishii otchet,” p 120, also pp 117–118.

86 On the primary targeting of Muslim/ non-Christian groups see L. Ia. Arapchanova, Spetspereselentsy. Istoriia massovych repressii i deportatsija ingushei v II veke (Moskva: Andalus, 2004), p 110; also Kreindler, Soviet Deported Nationalities, p 388. The Ossetians, while probably being not much less (or more) syncretist than most other Northern Caucasians at the beginning of Russian expansion into the Caucasus, had in imperial times been stylized as Christians to be “reawakened” after the decline brought about by the historic rise of Muslim influence in the region. See Jersild, Orientalism, pp 38–58. According to Naimark, Stalin’s motives were not entirely clear, but may have encompassed the establishment of some form of “Christian,” if not purely Slavic domination in the Caucasus (Naimark, Fires, p 105).

87 On the passage from the pastoral of the soul to the political government of men see Michel Foucault, Se´curite´, Territoire, Population. Cours au Colle`ge de France, 1977–1978 (Paris: Gallimard, 2004); Oliver Le Cour Grandmaison in his analysis of the French conquest of Northern Africa transports Foucault into a colonial context. According to this author, the idea of “pastoralization” consisted of treating sociocultural groups as flocks, distributing them in space in an authoritarian manner, so that each group would be assigned to a special region and a special task according to its inherent characteristics. Grandmaison then describes how the concept of “pastoralization” (cheptellisation in the French original) expressed itself in the expulsion of the indigenous population and its replacement by Europeans. See Oliver Le Cour Grandmaison, Coloniser.


Exterminer. Sur la guerre en l’E tat colonial (Paris: Fayard, 2005), pp 58–59.

88 Avtorkhanov,, “The Chechens,” pp 162–163, also p 171. On the “voluntary” character of the migrations, here on the example of the Crimean Tatars, who were exiled to Central Asia together with the deported Northern Caucasian nationalities, see Brian G. Williams, “The hidden ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Soviet Union:

the exile and repatriation of the Crimean Tatars,” Journal of Contemporary History Vol 37, No 3, July 2002, pp 323–347, here p 341.

89 The aim of cultural destruction becomes more apparent if we take into account that back in the Caucasus, the traces of the former inhabitants were systematically erased, see Naimark, Fires of Hatred, p 98. Williams, Hidden Ethnic Cleansing, p 342; regarding physical annihilation, Avtorkhanov reports that in 1937 so- called anti-Soviet elements from among the Caucasians were taken to a special “execution hall” in Grozny, established for the extermination of large groups. Euphemistically called “relay chamber,” it was made of reinforced concrete with revolving firing positions fitted into the walls and the ceiling from the exterior. The dead bodies were taken away in lorries. Avtorkhanov, “The Chechens,” p 175. According to Bennigsen-Broxup, in the Soviet campaign of 1920–21 the Red Army also experimented with chemical weapons, see Bennigsen-Broxup, Last Ghazawat, p 137. On the deportations themselves, transport, the


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conditions at the Central Asian places of resettlement and death rates see Arapchanova, Spetspereselentsy, pp 124 and 133; Williams, Hidden Ethnic Cleansing, pp 332–334; Naimark, Fires of Hatred, p 97; Bernard Bruneteau, Le sie`cle des ge´nocides (Paris: Armand Colin, 2004), p 103; Kreindler, Soviet Deported, pp 390–392; Walter Comins-Richmond, “The deportation of the Karachays,” Journal of Genocide Research Vol 4, No 3, 2002, pp 431–439, here pp 433–435; Michaela Pohl, “‘It cannot be that our graves will be here’:

the survival of Chechen and Ingush deportees in Kazakhstan, 1944–1957,” Journal of Genocide Research Vol 4, No 3, 2002, pp 401–430, here pp 404–407.

90 Naimark, Fires, p 98; Francine Hirsch, “Race without the practice of racial politics,” Slavic Review Vol 61, No 1, Spring 2002, pp 30–43; Weiner, Introduction, p 15; A. Weiner, “Nothing but certainty”, Slavic Review Vol 61, No 1, Spring 2002, pp 44–53. Weiner does state that the Soviet belief in the malleability of human nature waned in the wake of World War II, and that Soviets never resolved for themselves the tension between social and biopolitical categorizations but he still thinks that “[p]urification did not engage collectivities as such but rather the individuals who comprised them,” and that “[e]xcision, even when totalized, did not emanate from a genocidal ideology and was not practiced through exterminatory institutions,” see Amir Weiner, “Nature, nurture, and memory in a socialist utopia: delineating the Soviet socio-ethnic body in the age of socialism,” The American Historical Review Vol 104, No 4, Oct, 1999, pp 1114–1155, especially pp 1115 and 1155, and Weiner, Nothing but Certainty, pp 52–53.

91 Approaches stressing the destructive character of Soviet nationality policy in the Caucasus are J. Otto Pohl, “Stalin’s genocide against the ‘repressed peoples,’” Journal of Genocide Research Vol 2, No 2, 2000, pp 167–293; Eric D. Weitz, “Racial politics without the concept of race: reevaluating Soviet ethnic and national purges,” Slavic Review Vol 61, No 1, Spring 2002, pp 1–29. I tend to side more with Pohl’s and Weitz’s analysis focusing on the Caucasus than with Hirsch’s, Weiner’s and Martin’s more general argument. Even if the latter are correct to the extent that Soviet policy was not based on notions of race, this does not automatically validate the argument that Soviet authorities were bent upon reeducation instead of annihilation.

92 Naimark, Fires, p 106.

93 Martin, Origins, p 816, see also Hirsch, Empire of Nations, p 9, where Hirsch states that the party-state could be both high-minded and vicious at the same time.

94 D.A. Miliutin, in the very act of proposing the “re-settlement” of the Transkuban population, had written:

“The European’s colonization of America brought in its wake the extermination of almost all the original inhabitants there; but in our age, obligations to humankind require that we take measures in good time for securing the existence of even those tribes that are hostile to us, which for reasons of state we force from their lands” (RGVIA, f. 38, op.7,d. 351, l.70 ob). On the Soviet distancing from eugenics see Hirsch, Empire of Nations, pp 231–272; Hirsch, Race Without. On Soviet pressure on excluding political groups from the UN-genocide definition see Leo Kuper, Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century (London and New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981), cited according to Levene, Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State, pp 45 and 216. It thus seems more probable to me that the most serious inhibition to descending into genocidal dynamics arose from the need to set oneself off from Nazi Germany, and not from some kind of primordial convictions inherent to Soviet ideology.

95 On this technique of soliciting the cooperation of the victims as a widespread characteristic of genocide, see Bauman, Modernity and Holocaust, pp 117–150, especially p 130.

96 Weiner (Weiner, Introduction, p 9) in a similar context speaks of the “expanding welfare state and the cleansing state” as “opposite ends of the inclusionary-exclusionary axis, which became the trademark of transformative modern politics.”

Notes on contributor

Irma Kreiten studied Cultural Anthropology and History of Eastern Europe at the University of Tu¨bingen, Germany. She graduated in 2004 with an MA thesis on Russian imperial ethnography in nineteenth-century Caucasus. She is currently enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Southampton and is preparing a dissertation on the Russian “final subjugation” of Western Caucasus (1856–65). Her main areas of interest are Postcolonial Studies, the Ottoman Empire and the Black Sea region.