AMERICAN UZBEKS

There are already a number of books about the United States of America and Uzbekistan, but in fact there is no serious investigation into the history, origin and present life of American Uzbeks.

It is known, however, that some Uzbeks had to leave their motherland in 20s & 30s of the last century and settle in Afghanistan and other eastern countries. After the Second World War, several Uzbek families arrived to the US, according to unofficial data, and by the 60s & 70s there were already more than 1000 Turkistani families that had come to America. The majority of Uzbek immigrants came to America from Turkey, and then, in the 80s from Afghanistan due to the Soviet invasion. From the 90s to the present, there has been a tendency for ethnic Uzbeks to migrate from Uzbekistan to the US under contracts or under the «green card» system. During the past 5–6 years annually about 1000–1800 citizen of Uzbekistan have won the «green card» lottery and settled in America. Thus, at present, more than 20 thousand ethnic Uzbeks are citizens of the US. Uzbeks live mostly in Washington D.C., New York city, and such states as Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida, as well as California.

The majority of migrants engage in business, work at various enterprises and are busy in the scientific community. Others work at state and governmental enterprises, at schools and colleges around the country, in such fields as advocacy, aviation, and medicine. Some Uzbek representatives even occupy responsible posts in the executive branches of American states.

As we see, it is time now to collect and analyze in detail all data on the life of American Uzbeks. In this sense this book is extremely topical, especially if one were to take into account the cardinal changes in the international situation around post soviet Central Asia and the emergence of new kinds of relations between Americans and Uzbeks. The book sheds light on facts from the life and activity of our countrymen in the US that were previously unknown to the wider Uzbek public. It fills with concrete empiric facts the gap in our understanding  of the scope and significance of all processes in the XX-th century history of soviet Central Asia.

It helps us understand the whole depth and specifics of present day American-Uzbek relations that contribute to the improvement and strengthening of the US–Uzbekistan’s relations. Last, but not less significant, it explores the human problems in Central Asia caused by former soviet policy, and the facts of American humanitarian and political assistance to the Turkistan people in the XX-th century, which is also quite important. Thus the author did not limit himself by focusing on the above, but tried to show through empirical facts the free US assistance to Turkistani people in those difficult years, which usually influences more than any ideological propaganda.

The book is the result of personal contacts and interviews of the author, journalist Mavlon Shukurzoda, with prominent American Uzbeks during his stay in the US between 1999 and 2009. Taking into account the complex character of the investigated theme and foreseeing possible future objections on some disputable historic questions, M.Shukurzoda tried to check subjective opinions of his respondents with many local and foreign scientific publications and archive data on the investigated period. In this sense the work is very close to historical scientific work and in fact can be assessed as a work of oral history based on the contemporary actual discourse method. Nevertheless, it is written in a journalistic style to be understandable to a wide audience of readers. The most impressive thing is that this book written as a result of the interviews with witnesses of many historical events in soviet Central Asia, which strengthen its reliability and validity.

The structure of the book unites two separate works, done by the author previously, and which after improvement have been included in this book: American Uzbeks and Shermukhammadbek lashkarboshi.

The first theme is examined here in two chapters, it reveals the life of the Uzbek diaspora abroad and the activity of the Turkistan American Association (TAA). The author gives first the data on the Uzbek diaspora abroad, then explains the reasons for Uzbeks’ appearance in the first decades of the XX-th century in Afghanistan and Turkey, and later in America, depicts their life and career there. Much attention

is given to the birth and activity of the Turkistan American Association in 1958–2008, their leaders’ biography and present-day cooperation of TAA with Uzbekistan. TAA has passed the long and thorny route from an unknown organization of several Turkistan migrant families to an influential American nongovernmental organization, representing and advancing the interests of Central Asian migrants in this part of the world.

The second theme is disclosed in two chapters devoted to Shermukhammadbek’s life in soviet Turkistan and abroad. It is based on reminiscences of his children and other relatives and describes the operation of the Turkistan provisional government, sheds light on Shermukhammadbek’s complex relations with another Turkistan leader – Madaminbek. In the next chapter the author describes Shermukhammadbek’s life in Afghanistan and Turkey, his relation to the secret organization «Faol», some aspects of his personal life, including opinions of various specialists about this personality.

In conclusion M.Shukurzoda gives his own recommendations on possible improvement of relations between Republic of Uzbekistan and American Uzbeks, their potential contribution to development of present-day Uzbekistan.

The book includes numerous historical photographs and archive data, that strengthen his thoughts and ideas, makes the text vivid and impressive.

It should be mentioned, however, that the author used Uzbek Latin script in his work that greatly differs from English script. Therefore names of persons and place names do not coincide with English writing.

Doctor in political sciences, professor G. Yuldasheva

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