(,ntral Asia Book
By the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the road to the
growth of outside knowledge about Central Asia abruptly branched out
in several directions. And, within a decade came the insistent modem
rise in self-knowledge among Central Asian reformists. It began notably
from around the outbreak of World War I and grew until the partition
by the Soviet Government of the Central Asian region into monoethnic
administrative units in the mid-1920s.
These developments remind everyone that knowledge about areas of
the world advances unevenly, often sporadically. That seems equally
true for the internal awareness reached by inhabitants of a region such
as Central Asia. As this new edition of Central Asia comes out, readers
and observers again have started paying great attention to the region.
These stages in the expansion of information and inquiry long ago ended
the possibility that any single individual or volume could systematically
master, even with the instrument of the computer, all learning about
For the study of Central Asia, a few extraordinary orientalists, such
as the Russian Professors Vasiliy V. Bartord (1869-1930) and Vasiliy V.
Radlov (1889-1914), stand as the last exemplars of the virtually all-
knowing savant. But even as they lived, research into Central Asian
arts, culture, economy, geography, history, languages, and other fields
far exceeded the control of anyone person. That inexorable evolution
toward scholarly specialization enforced a salutory division of labor in
the field that has ramified further during succeeding decades.
Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Dominance offers a concrete ex-
ample of that necessary diversification. The dispersion of the six schol-