A New Uzbek Minister of Culture and Sports

by Anonymous on 10/5/2004 · 4 comments

Usually the changes in the Uzbek Governement go without much notice, as in strategic, tactical and operational levels, the overall policy remains the same. However, this new appointement of Alisher Azizhodjaev as the Minister of Culture and Sports, I think, deserves more attention.

Mr Azizhodjaev is very well know for his ideas and position giving priority to Uzbek national culture, language and traditions. From my working experience as an interpreter at the Academy of State and Social Construction under the President of Uzbekistan, when Alisher Azizhodjaev was the Head of this institution, I can say that he supported the production of several theater plays featuring the traditional Uzbek values and traditions, whose first trial shows were organised at the Academy. Also, Mr Azizhodjaev is considered as one of the key figures in the elaboration of the Uzbek National ideology.

So, as for the cultural life in Uzbekistan, with this appointement, I guess, in the coming years a lot of attention would be given to the development of national traditional forms of arts and culture.

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– author of 49 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Education 2003–2004 Master Degree in Developmental Studies (DESS “Gestion et dynamisation du développement”), The University of Pierre Mendès France of Grenoble, France 1998-2003 Bachelor Degree in International Economics, The University of World Economy and Diplomacy of Tashkent, Uzbekistan Work Experience 05/2004-08/2004 Researcher, The Economic Mission of France in Istanbul, Turkey 04/2003-09/2003 Research assistant and Translator in the UNDP project UZB 01/04 on institutional reinforcement of the Higher School of Business under the President of Uzbekistan 01/2003-04/2003 Interpreter, International Department, The Higher School of Business, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 09/2002-01/2003 English Language Junior Editor at the Journal “International Relations, Law and Economy” of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 06/2002-09/2002 Intern, CIS countries Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan

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Laurence October 5, 2004 at 9:34 am

Alisher, this is very interesting culturally. What will the new Uzbek nationalism mean for the minorities who live in Uzbekistan? Is there a place for them? How does it keep from becoming chauvinism? And what about the Russian legacy, is it just forgotten?

Alisher October 5, 2004 at 4:40 pm

Well, I dont think that Russian legacy is or will be ever forgotten, because it is an ongoing process. I mean, even now, cultural life in Uzbekistan is quite influenced by Russia, as most of the cultural intelligentsia follow trends in Russia, and Russia is the first trading partner; every year more Uzbeks visit Russia than any other country, most of the textbooks at the UWED (I know only UWED, but I guess the same is true for others) are still in Russian, most of the Uzbeks (even those who are very traditional)prefer to watch ORT or NTV (Russian channels)than Uzbek channels (I dont have any formal polls or statistical data to prove it, but everyone I speak to seems to have this opinion), and after all there is a considerable Russian speaking minority. I am not nationalistic to the extent of chauvinism, but I think it is not acceptable that in Uzbekistan, Uzbeks speak in Russian to Russians, and Russians dont speak Uzbek at all. What would you do, say, if a Chinese ticket seller in a Broadway theater will refuse to speak with you in English, but will insist in speaking in Chinese.
So, it is not about being chauvinistic, it is just about being a normal country. Not a colony, or a former colony of Russia.

As for other minorities, I dont think there are or there would be any problems, there are newspapers in other languages, schools with education in Russian, Karakalpak, Tadjik, etc. A couple of days ago I watched a program in Kyrgyz over the Uzbek TV ( I remembered this event, because a month ago I witnessed all the fuss about broadcasting 30 minute programs in Kurdish, Cherkez, Laz and some other minority languages in Turkey, a model for Middle Eastern democracy according to President Bush). While in Uzbekistan, it is something absolutely normal.

However, your question about how we can avoid becoming chauvinistic is very important. I dont know. So far the governement has succeeded in curbing chauvinistic tendencies, set off by some political movements at the beginning of the Independance, but the best way to stop chauvinism, I guess would be, paradoxically, a more nationalistic policy in the positive meaning of the word.
Chauvinism in Uzbekistan will not be an action, but a reaction. So the best policy, would be to remove any possible reasons for such a reaction. ( People might eventually refuse to speak in Russian when they buy their theater tickets, and the best solution would be if the Russian seller would learn to speak Uzbek)

Laurence October 5, 2004 at 4:44 pm

Alisher, I think your answer is even more interesting than the original story! I was not criticizing. We have many problems in relations with different language groups in America, and an “English-only” movement, etc. I was just wondering how the nationalism will be moderated so that it does not frighten ethnic Koreans, Jews, Armenians, Ukrainians, Russians, and so on… How can they be part of the Uzbek nation as equals? Perhaps your Turkish experience has some more guidance for Uzbekistan?

Alisher October 5, 2004 at 7:36 pm

It is really a difficult question, and I am not sure I have the answer. Honestly, maybe I have never thought about this.
In Turkey, all their national policy was resumed by Ataturk’s “Ne mutlu turkum diyene” slogan, (i.e. roughly “how happy is the person who calls himself a Turk”). And usually, I have heard the Turks say ‘in Turkey everybody is a Turk’. In France, I had a difficult time explaining that citizenship and nationality are different things in Uzbekistan. They think everybody with Uzbek citizenship is Uzbek by nationality. I am very supportive of this idea, but I guess minorities would be against it. In the US, everybody calls himself American.
So, I dont know the answer yet. However, I guess public dialogue between different nationalities and the committement of the Governement to protect the cultural rights of the minorities might help.

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