Diaspora Kimliği ve Kültürünün Oluşumu: Sovyet-sonrası Kazakistan ve Özbekistan daki Ahıska Türkleri ve Kore Diasporalarının Karşılaştırmalı Analizi - PDF


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COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE AHISKA (MESKHETIAN) TURKS AND KOREANS IN POST-SOVIET KAZAKHSTAN AND UZBEKISTAN: THE MAKING OF DIASPORA IDENTITY AND CULTURE* Diaspora Kimliği ve Kültürünün Oluşumu: Sovyet-sonrası Kazakistan ve Özbekistan daki Ahıska Türkleri ve Kore Diasporalarının Karşılaştırmalı Analizi Chong Jin OH** ABSTRACT This research is analyzing two deported diasporas in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. By using Korean and Ahıska Turkish diasporas in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as cases, this study aims to present the cultural and identity preservation of the two diasporas and their cultural revitalizing activities since the independence of titular nation in Thus the article examines their survival and the existence of the diaspora nationalism in the nationalizing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In order to examine these issues, this article focuses on: diaspora movement and the formation of diaspora organizations, territorialization in titular states, language revival and education, and finally the socio-economic situation of the Ahıska Turkish and Korean diasporas. To explore the survival and the existence of the diaspora culture and diaspora identity this work carried out in-depth interview and field research among the Korean and Ahıska Turkish diasporas in Central Asia. Consequently, it tried to reveal actual dynamism and cultural revitalization among these two peoples. Key Words Diaspora, Ahıska Turkish, Korean minority, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan ÖZ Bu araştırma, Kazakistan ve Özbekistan a sürgün edilmiş iki diaspora grubu olan Koreli ve Ahıska Türkleri örneklerinde kimlik ve kültür muhafazasını göz önüne sermekte ve hakim etnik grupların 1991 sonrasında bağımsız devlet teşkilini müteakip bu iki diaspora grubu arasında gözlemlenen kültürel canlanmayı incelemektedir. Böylece, milli devletler haline gelen Kazakistan ve Özbekistan daki diaspora milliyetçiliği analiz edilmektedir. Bu amaçla, diaspora hareketleri, diaspora derneklerinin teşkili, diaspora gruplarının belli bölgelerde yoğunlaşması, diaspora dillerinin öğretimi ve canlanışı, ve Ahıska Türkü ve Koreli diasporalarının sosyo-ekonomik konumları detaylı bir şekilde incelenmiştir. Diaspora kimliğinin ve kültürünün varlığını ve muhafaza edilişini araştırmak gayesini taşıyan bu çalışmamız için Orta Asya da yaşayan Ahıska ve Kore diasporalarına mensup kişilerle detaylı mülakatlar ve saha çalışması gerekleştirilmiştir. Bu şekilde her iki diaspora grubunun hal-i hazırdaki dinamizmini ve kültürel olarak yeniden canlanışlarını da ortaya koymaya çalışılmaktadır. Anahtar Kelimeler Diaspora Kimliği, Ahıska Türk, Kore diaspora, Kültürünün Oluşumu, Özbekistan, Kazakistan * The Ahıska/Meskhetian Turks are known as Ahıska Turks in Turkey and Meskhetian Turks in the West and Russia. Although the term Meskhetian Turks is widely know in the Western literature, during the fieldwork in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the author noticed the adamant refusal to be called Meskhetian Turks among Ahıska Turks in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. They think of themselves simply as Ahıska Turks. Thus, in this article the author uses Ahıska Turks as their appellation. ** Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Asst. Prof. in the Dept. of Turkish-Azerbaijani Studies, / This work was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of I. Introduction According to Russian writer and philosopher Aleksandr Zinoviev 1, the communist system had a strong capacity to destroy national barriers and eliminate ethnic differences. He argued that communism created a new, bland, homogenized community of people (cited in Diuk and Karatnycky 1993: 3-4). However, his assessment has since been disproven by the remarkable national rebirth that helped cause the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many newly independent states were busy with their nation building process by nationalizing and indigenizing their territories. These processes somehow marginalized the non-titular ethnic minorities in the newly independent countries. Nontitular groups, such as the Jews, Volga Germans, Koreans, Crimean Tatars and Ahıska Turks who were deported in the Central Asia found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Also for some non-titular groups, such as Koreans, are facing serious challenge in achieving the primordial notions of nationality due their Sovietization. Under these circumstances, we should not overlook the fact that these small size non-titular groups, as mentioned above, were more vulnerable and faced hardship during the nationalizing process in the newly independent states compared with the Russian diasporas who were big in numbers and organized. Moreover, unlike Russian diasporas who came to the region as a ruling group, these small nontitular groups were deported in the region as a traitor of the Soviet Union. Considering the mentioned above, the intention of this article is to focus on the ethnic minority and diaspora issues in nationalizing Central Asia, which have generally been ignored by western academic and political circles due to their powerless and small size. Specifically, this work is an analysis of two deported diasporas in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Korean and Ahıska Turks. These two diaspora groups have experienced Stalin s brutal deportations during the Soviet period and since 1991 both of them are facing new challenges in the nationalizing states. The objective of this work is to examine survival, identity preservation and cultural revitalization activities of Ahıska Turks and Korean diaspora since the establishment of titular states in Central Asia. Based on fieldwork carried out in 2005 and , it can be argued that many diaspora members are ambivalent, since they expressed both affection and disaffection with regard to life in Central Asia. As Uehling argues, for many diasporas of Central Asia, the ideologies of home, soil, and roots fail to line up with the practicalities of residence, so that territorial referents and civic loyalty are perplexingly divided (Uehling 2001: 394). Diaspora identity contains disparate and even contradictory elements and is constantly evolving in reaction to changing circumstances. In short, degrees of diasporaness, or diasporacity, are not static. Thus, this study aims to clarify certain aspects of these confusions by examining two different diaspora groups, which examination will offer a window on the much broader process 15 of diaspora identity and nationalism. The comparative content of this investigation will show considerable variations in these practices in different settings and groupings. II. Diaspora Movement and the formation of the Diaspora Organizations in the Post-Soviet Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan For the Soviet Korean diaspora, the break up of the Soviet Union has provided an opportunity to find their own roots and culture. In the wake of these events, a Korean national revival began along with a series of other movements for cultural autonomy among Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan s multi-national population. Many intellectuals have been attempting to revive a sense of Korean identity among the Soviet Koreans through language and cultural education. After years of forced silence, the Korean diaspora took the opportunity to lobby actively to develop their national customs, traditions, language and culture. This initial development of the Korean movement was shaped primarily by academic intellectuals. These scholars played important and positive roles in the organization of Korean centers; the methods and contents of their activities and forging ties with homeland Korea (Kim 1994: 45). There are several reasons for the predominance of intellectuals on the sphere of social sciences in the leadership of Korean association. First, their ties to the party and its government organs gave them access to the power which was needed to resolve organizational questions related to the establishment of Korean cultural centers. In addition, these same ties allowed them to lobby on behalf of the Korean centers. Furthermore, their professional specialization and work experience in party organs meant that the professors were better grounded in the preparation of statutory documents, conceptualization of cultural centers, and management of organizational work. Finally, since these faculty members were all experienced in organic elements of the partystate system, their roles as the leaders of cultural centers was agreeable to the organs of power. 3 Consequently, the Korean cultural associations in their early stages copied the working style of the Communist party and other Soviet organs (Kim and Khan 2001: 125). Later, these social associations became automatically accountable to the titular government organizations as well as dependent upon them. Various Korean cultural centers or associations were established in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In major cites such as Almaty, Kyzl-orda, Chimkent, Tashkent, Samarkand, Fergana, and elsewhere elsewhere where substantial numbers of Koreans lived Korean cultural centers were opened. All these associations placed emphasis on the revival of the Korean language, customs, and tradition as their basic goals and missions. The awakening of ethnic consciousness took place against the background of these goals. The goals of the Koreans societies coincided with generally accepted trends during this period. The leaders of the Korean organization in the 1990s studiously omitted any mention of goals in their statutory documentation that might complicate their relations with titular authorities. Consequently, Koreans did not regard themselves as subjects of political activity during the formative period of their new organi- 16 zations; their political consciousness had not yet been awakened (Khan 1994). No doubt, these Soviet Korean leaders were very loyal to the ruling regime in their respective countries of residency. Therefore, the association s ethnic agenda was primarily cultural rather than political. Compared with the Korean diaspora, the Ahıska Turks have a long history of ethnic organization. Until the end of 1980s, the Vatan society, as the only organization of the Ahıska Turks, led the Ahıska Turkish movement. Its leaders continuously fought against the Soviet authorities for their rehabilitation to the homeland and their rights to proclaim themselves as Turks. However, due to demographic dispersion and efforts of the Soviet authorities to control and disorganize the Ahıska Turks the movement was fragmented. Also there was the disagreement between the leaders in the organization. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, numerous other societies were founded by the Ahıska Turks residing in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. A Central Association of the Ahıska Turks was founded in Almaty and Tashkent in These Associations presented a somewhat different perspective on the issues of importance to Ahıska Turks, though not departing significantly from the mainstream. One of the important points on their agenda is still obtaining permission and means to emigrate to Turkey, which they consider as their homeland. However, they are also concerned with the problems of the community still living in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The improvement of the Ahıska Turks socio-economic conditions was central to the Association s agenda. Anyhow, compared with the Korean associations, they worked towards their rehabilitation to homeland. The Ahıska Turkish associations made close contact with the Turkish embassy and prepared and submit the list of the Ahıska Turkish families willing to migrate to Turkey (Aydıngün 2001: 138). During the interview with the leaders of the Associations in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, they both said that their primary activities after the formation of the associations were emigration from the titular states to other places, if possible, to Turkey (Aydıngün 2001: 138). Within this framework, the associations made the necessary demands to the responsible authorities of titular states. On the contrary, the Koreans did not make any demands to the titular authorities. And unlike many other diaspora minorities, such as Russians, Germans and Ahıska Turks, the Koreans did not leave Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in large numbers. This fact coincided with the Koreans Associations (in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) official stance. For example, the Association of the Koreans in Kazakhstan s vice President Gurri Khan stated at a session of the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan that they do not support the idea of Korean emigration from Kazakhstan. He said, for us Kazakhstan has become our motherland (Tskhai 2000: 136). Hence, the Korean Associations cooperated closely with the titular regime and tried to lobby for their interest and representation. It seems this is resulting from the psychological perception of their ethnic identity. Many Ahıska Turks perceived their ethnic identity in a negative form. That is, the Ahıska Turks 17 think that, as during the times of the Soviet Union, they continue to be an unwanted nationality in the region. They considered themselves as not being a privileged group in the region although they were ethnically and religiously similar to the titulars. Many Ahıska Turks have thought that they were among the most discriminated nationalities (Aydıngün 2001: 141). On the other hand, many Koreans expressed their identity in positive terms. They think that their ethnic identity holds them in high regard, characterized by traits such as diligence, workaholic, patient, filled with goodwill, and persistent in achieving their goals. In other words, they consider that the attitude of other nationalities towards Koreans has always been positive. Accordingly, many think that they are a wanted nationality in the host-states for the development of the nation (Khan 1994). Having carved a niche for themselves in the Soviet economy and transcended the status of criminality that brought their community to Central Asia, Koreans appear far more willing to embrace a second among equals status and adapt to the new reality of a titular dominated Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. By contrast, the Ahıska Turks are presented with an idealized vision of a better life in the distant homeland of Turkey and have had less success in transcending the status of other within which they have existed throughout the Soviet period. A comparison of Ahıska Turks and Koreans reactions after the formation of their associations in titular states reveals a clear divergence in the degree to which these communities feel they may legitimately vest their future in the new states. III. Territorialization in Titular states: Ahıska Turks and Koreans Considering the aforementioned, this section will show a textured picture of re-territorialization identity within titular states as well as shed light on the general nature of diasporic identity in the context of post-soviet space. As suggested by Table1, which was acquired during the fieldwork, in comparison with the Ahıska Turkish community, a far higher percentage of Koreans consider the states they live in (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) as their homeland. This constitutes the central issue in this examination of the territorialization of identity and compels an exploration of the degree to which members of both groups feel that they are capable of full integration into the civic nation. [Table 1] Q. Where is your homeland? (Multiple answer possible) Nationality Koreans (%) Ahıska Turks (%) Place of birth Soviet Union 20 0 Titular States (Kazakhstan/ Uzbekistan) Land of forefathers (Russian Far East / Ahıska region) Historical Homeland (Korea / Turkey) Source: Data derived from survey conducted in Kazakhstan (2005) and Uzbekistan (2008) from Ahıska Turks and Koreans, 150 samples in each country and diaspora (total 600) 18 [Table 2] Q. Who should be considered native residents of titular states (Multiple answer possible) Nationality Koreans (%) Ahıska Turks (%) Titulars (Kazak or Uzbek) All people who were born in titular states All citizens Difficult to say 2 5 Source: Data derived from survey conducted in Kazakhstan (2005) and Uzbekistan (2008) from Ahıska Turks and Koreans, 150 samples in each country and diaspora (total 600) Taken together, Table 1 and 2 demonstrate that both groups attribute considerable value to being born in a place as a criterion of indigeneity. Such a trend was high among youths and middle-agers who think they have certain rights in their countries of residence. This, more or less reveals their desire rather then the reality of dwelling states. The following quote from a middle-aged Korean in Almaty conveys a common thread of interview responses from both communities, in which the complex interaction of ethnic, territorial, and national identities remains unsettled. It shows a dynamic process of identity formation: In my heart, I feel I am a native of this place I mean this city or maybe this country. I don t know. I know that I never lived in Korea, neither did my father and mother. Thus I am not quite sure if it is my homeland. At the same time, however, I now live in a country that I did not choose. Neither did my father or grandfather choose to come here. I really don t know. You ask me difficult questions. 4 In general, the Korean diaspora tend it to have a hyphenated identity which is composed of a territorial-based citizenship and ethnicity (i.e. Korean- Kazakhstani or Korean-Uzbekistani). On the other hand, such a trend rarely appears among the Ahıska Turks. In other words, there is a far greater willingness among Koreans to embrace a long-term association with the titular states. 5 As one Kazak official stated, Koreans were forced to come here, but once here, found a way to contribute greatly to the Soviet Union and now Kazakhstan. It makes them an important part of the Kazakhstani people. 6 In an instrumentalist sense, such a remark may have contributed to Koreans higher levels of territorialization within Kazakhstan. In addition, a more sentimental approach to Koreans sense of belonging to Kazakhstan is evident in many of their writings. However, Table 3 shows a continued significance of ethnic self-conception. It seems that the prominence of ethnic identity among both groups results from a combination of the legacy of Soviet nationality policy and the role of the homeland after having contact with them. [Table 3] Q. What is your primary community of belonging? (Multiple answers possible) Nationality Koreans Ahıska Turks Own ethnicity Soviet nation 20 0 Kazakhstani (citizenship) Source: Data derived from survey conducted in Kazakhstan (2005) and Uzbekistan (2008) from Ahıska Turks and Koreans, 100 samples in each country and diaspora (total 400) 19 IV. Language Revival and Education of Ahıska Turks and Koreans Compared with the Korean diaspora, the Ahıska Turks preserved their language far better, since Ahıska Turks somehow used their language to identify themselves and used it as a tool against assimilation. Table 4, which is the data collected from the 2001 Statistical yearbook of Kazakhstan, prepared by the European Union s Tacis program, somehow illustrates the general situation of language knowledge of Ahıska Turks and Koreans. [Table 4] 7 Level of Language Knowledge of Ahıska Turkish and Korean Diasporas Nationalities Total Population Thsd. person Among them those who know language Native (TU/ Kazak Russian KR) Thsd. person As % of total population Thsd. Person As % of total population Thsd. person As % of total population Korean % % % Ahıska % % % Turk Source: European Union Tacis Program, Statistical Year Book of Kazakhstan (Almaty: Agency on Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2001), p.434 Although the Ahıska Turkish community has, by and large, preserved its native language, recently
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