The Scholar at Columbia University: 
Publications, Translations and Conferences.

Professor Allworth led many initiatives for the development of Central Asian and Soviet studies at Columbia University. To mention a few, he was the founding Director of the Program on Soviet Nationality Problems (1970) and the Center for Central Asian Studies (1984) as well as a faculty member of the Harriman Institute. 

 

To gain an insight into Professor Allworth’s scholarly works, we can examine what the Harriman Institute wrote for his 2016 obituary: “Professor Allworth’s voluminous writings span nearly six decades, ranging from How the Soviets Interpreted the Lines of Two Asian Poets in American and Slavic and East Europe Review (16:2, 1957), to a 2015 entry on Tamerlane for Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia. He is best known for his books Uzbek Literary Politics (Mouton, 1964), Central Asian Publishing and the Rise of Nationalism (NYPL, 1965), Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule (Columbia, 1967), The Nationality Question in Soviet Central Asia (Praeger, 1973), Nationality Group Survival in Multiethnic States (Praeger, 1977), The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth Century to the Present (Hoover, 1990, [2013]), The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland (2nd ed., Duke 1998), and The Preoccupations of ‘Abdalrauf Fitrat, Bukharan Nonconformist: An Analysis and List of His Writings (Das Arab. Buch, 2000). He updated his seminal 1967 work with a second (Central Asia: 120 Years of Russian Rule [Duke, 1989] and a third (Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Rule [Duke, 1994] edition. Professor Allworth was editor of the Central Asia Book series at Duke University Press”. [15]

 

In addition to the most significant works highlighted above, it is important to mention his other academic contributions: translations. The two translations mentioned below are related to his area of expertise, Muslim cultural reform movements. Professor Allworth was the first to translate from Turkish to English, The Wedding of A Poet [16] in 1981 by the Ottoman playwright, Ibrahim Sinasi (1826–1871), a pioneer in modernizing Ottoman thought and literature. This one-act comedy, the first modern Turkish play written in colloquial Turkish, satirized arranged marriages.

 

However, foremost among his translations was The Patricide [17], the first modern play in Central Asia written by Mahmud Khoja Behbudiy (1874–1919), a leader of the Muslim cultural reform movement in Central Asia called Jadidism. Behbudiy sends a strong educational message in the play, which revolves around the tragic fate of a rich merchant and his illiterate son when the calls for pursuing an education are unheeded. The importance of this translation from Uzbek to English was highlighted in an article published in the Uzbek newspaper Xurriyat (Freedom) in 1997. When the editors of the prestigious journal Sharq Yulduzi (Eastern Star) needed to republish Behbudiy’s The Patricide for the first time after Uzbekistan's independence and could not find the original work, they used the edition from Professor Allworth’s translation. [18]

 

Throughout his academic career, Professor Allworth led and participated in numerous seminars, lectures, and conferences. During my time as a graduate student in 1991, Professor Allworth coordinated a major conference on the plight of the Aral Sea at Columbia University. Important panelists like environmental activists, water management scholars, and grassroot organization leaders came together for a two-day conference entitled: “Environmental Catastrophe in the USSR: The Aral Sea Crisis.” As a result of

Professor Allworth’s tireless efforts, among the conference panelists was the Uzbek writer Pirmat Shermukhamedov, leader of the Committee for Saving the Aral Sea, the first grassroots movement in Central Asia. 

 

Furthermore, Professor Allworth cultivated many scholarly exchange programs. He was instrumental in leading “a series of official exchanges between American and Soviet scholars to the Soviet Union in 1983 and 1985. Later he was invited to the region by the Academy of Sciences in the USSR and the Uzbek and Kazakh academies to study a variety of subjects in the region, ranging from Central Asian firearms to Uzbek and Kazakh theater and drama.” [19]  In addition to establishing and maintaining relations with writers, dissidents, and scholars overseas, Professor Allworth also cultivated excellent relations with Turkic émigré communities in the United States (Turkistanian and Crimean Tatar organizations). He generously spared time from his busy academic schedule to participate in celebrations such as the 550th Anniversary of the Birth of Ali Shir Navoi held at the Turkistanian-American Association in February 1991. On this special occasion, the Professor was recognized for his outstanding contributions to Central Asian studies by the Turkistanian-American community.