Muslim Women of the Fergana Valley

Muslim Women of the Fergana Valley

A 19th-Century Ethnography from Central Asia
Valdimir Nalivkin and Maria Nalivkina, translated by Mariana Markova and Marianne Ruth Kamp
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/04/2016
Format: Hardback 4 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-02127-4
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Muslim Women of the Fergana Valley is the first English translation of an important 19th-century Russian text describing everyday life in Uzbek communities. Vladimir and Maria Nalivkin were Russians who settled in a "Sart" village in 1878, in a territory newly conquered by the Russian Empire. During their six years in Nanay, Maria Nalivkina learned the local language, befriended her neighbors, and wrote observations about their lives from birth to death. Together, Maria and Vladimir published this account, which met with great acclaim from Russia’s Imperial Geographic Society and among Orientalists internationally. While they recognized that Islam shaped social attitudes, the Nalivkins never relied on common stereotypes about the "plight" of Muslim women. The Fergana Valley women of their ethnographic portrait emerge as lively, hard-working, clever, and able to navigate the cultural challenges of early Russian colonialism. Rich with social and cultural detail of a sort not available in other kinds of historical sources, this work offers rare insight into life in rural Central Asia and serves as an instructive example of the genre of ethnographic writing that was emerging at the time. Annotations by the translators and an editor's introduction by Marianne Kamp help contemporary readers understand the Nalivkins' work in context.

Author Bio

Marianne Kamp is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wyoming. She is author of The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity and Unveiling under Communism.

Mariana Markova is an editor, translator, instructor, and researcher. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Washington.


“A superb example of Russian Orientalism. Kamp’s introduction and annotation contextualize this 19th-century work very well. . . . This book is fundamental to the studies of Central Asian history, history of anthropology, gender and women’s studies, studies of religion, and post-colonial studies.”
 — Svetlana Peshkova, University of New Hampshire

“I am delighted to see an English translation of this work. It is wonderful and rich ethnography of a type that existed before there were any standard conventions—throughout the western world—for conducting and writing up such cross-cultural studies. . . . Gives us Central Asian perspectives and the observation of Central Asian peoples and their lifeways from the perspective of people who actually lived among them.”
 — Russell Zanca, Northeastern Illinois University

“This work provides us with an enduring portrait of a moment after the Kokand Khanate was defeated, when its forms of Islamic rule were officially gone but before Russian imperial law, administration, and culture had come to dominate rural Central Asian communities. ”
 — Acta Via Serica

“Markova and Kamp's translation makes available to English-language readers a resource valuable on two levels. Kamp's comprehensive introduction emphasizes the importance of this work for scholars considering the development of ethnographic method, Russian feminism, and nineteenth-century Russian scholarship more generally.”
 — Religious Studies Review

Muslim Women of the Fergana Valley is a must-read for students specializing in the history of Russia and Central Asia, women’s studies, and anthropology. ”
 — H-SAE

“A uniquely intimate portrait of life in an Uzbek village, by turns fascinating and frustrating. Marianne Kamp and Mariana Markova are to be thanked for their fine job of translating and editing this text.”
 — The Russian Review

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Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction Marianne Kamp

A Sketch of the Everyday Life of Women of the
Sedentary Population of the Fergana Valley

Authors’ Preface Vladimir Nalivkin and Maria Nalivkina
1. A Short Sketch of the Fergana Valley
2. Religion and Clergy
3. Houses and Utensils
4. Woman’s Appearance and Her Clothing
5. Occupations and Food
6. The Woman, Her Character, Habits, Knowledge, and Behavior towards the People around Her
7. Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Girl
8. The Maiden: Marriage Proposal and Marriage
9. Polygyny, Divorce, Widowhood, and Death of a Woman
10. Prostitution