Since the end of the Tajik civil war in 1997, the Tajik authorities have being seeking to instill a new national consciousness. Here the educational system plays a crucial role, not least the way history is taught. Through a state-approved history curriculum, the authorities offer a common understanding of the past that is intended to strengthen the (imagined) community of the present. In this article, we examine the set of history textbooks currently used in Tajik schools and compare them with Soviet textbooks, exploring continuities and changes in the understanding of the Tajik nation. We distinguish between changes in the perception of the national “self” and the new “other,” the Uzbeks, and introduce two intermediary categories: the Soviet/Russian heritage as an “external self” and Islam as an “internal other.” The main battle for the further delimitation of the Tajik “self” is likely to take place within the discursive gray zone between the two latter categories, where the authorities will have to find a balance between a continued secular state ideology and the heavy presence of Islam, as well as between a Soviet past and a Tajik present.
Link to article