You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

No Cover Image

Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus

Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Writers and Rebels
    Book Description:

    Spanning the period between the end of the Russo-Caucasian War and the death of the first female Chechen suicide bomber, this groundbreaking book is the first to compare Georgian, Chechen, and Daghestani depictions of anticolonial insurgency. Rebecca Gould draws from previously untapped archival sources as well as from prose, poetry, and oral narratives to assess the impact of Tsarist and Soviet rule in the Islamic Caucasus. Examining literary representations of social banditry to tell the story of Russian colonialism from the vantage point of its subjects, among numerous other themes, Gould argues that the literatures of anticolonial insurgency constitute a veritable resistance-or "transgressive sanctity"-to colonialism.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-22075-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Map of the Caucasus Region, 1871–1888 (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. Introduction The Caucasus as Region, Literature as Method (pp. 1-32)

    Although he surrendered after a quarter century of leading the peoples of Chechnya and Daghestan in their resistance to imperial rule, Imam Shamil has never lost his preeminent position in the Caucasus literatures of anticolonial insurgency. Among his many accomplishments, Shamil’s small Islamic state successfully withstood incorporation into a colonial empire from 1834 to 1859, longer than any of its counterparts across the Islamic world. A brief reflection on the biography of this individual and the methods through which he asserted his power will set the stage for the vacuum in political authority that ensued following the destruction of his...

  6. ONE The Abrek in Soviet Chechen Literature (pp. 33-91)

    The anticolonial literatures of Chechnya, Daghestan, and Georgia were differently shaped by colonial violence. This chapter engages with some key moments in the history of Chechen anticolonial insurgency while examining how they contributed to the birth of Chechen literature in the Soviet period. During the final decades of this conquest, the famed Daghestani warrior Imam Shamil presided over the longest-lastingsharīʿa-ruled government in a world region controlled by colonial powers. And yet, notwithstanding Daghestan’s centrality to anticolonial insurgency both globally and locally, the Chechen idiom of insurgency reverberated even more widely across the region. This is one reason for beginning...

  7. TWO Regulating Rebellion: Miracles, Insurgency, and Daghestani Modernity (pp. 92-157)

    N otwithstanding the divergences between these neighboring traditions, Chechen idioms of insurgency exerted a powerful hold on the Daghestani imagination. This influence is reflected in vernacular representations of Ḥājjī Murād (d. 1852), Imam Shamil’snāʾibwho defected to the Russians in hopes of reclaiming his ransomed family, only to be betrayed by the tsarist administration (figure 5). Ḥājjī Murād’s legacy in Georgian literature is explored in chapter 3. Most relevant to this chapter is Ḥājjī Murād’s representation in Avar and Arabic sources. The most important in the former category is a memoir chronicling Ḥājjī Murād’s life and exploits and narrated...

  8. THREE The Georgian Poetics of Insurgency: Redeeming Treachery (pp. 158-201)

    During most of Georgian literary history, the inhabitants of Daghestan were categorized into a single quasi-ethnic group—known asleki(ლექი)—while the inhabitants of Chechnya and Ingushetia, as well as Pankisi and Tusheti, both on Georgian territory, were referred to by the termvainaxi(ვაინახი, meaning “we people” in Chechen and Ingush).¹ Distinctions were rarely more nuanced than this. While the relatively quiescentvainaxiwere regarded as closely related to mountaineer Georgians,lekiwere tainted by association with the raids that bedeviled Georgia from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, which are collectively referred to in Georgian history as...

  9. FOUR Violence as Recognition, Recognition as Violence (pp. 202-230)

    Having dwelled on literary engagements with violence, I now transition to a different engagement with violence. Although the violence with which this chapter is concerned exists outside texts, it is no less mediated by representations than its textual counterpart. Here, I direct my attention to the aestheticization of violence that transpires among women traumatized by war, which I encountered during fieldwork in and around Chechnya, particularly from 2004 to 2006. This chapter turns to ethnography in a final effort to offer a more dialectical account of anticolonial violence. If, as Walter Burkert claims, “sacrificial killing is the basic experience of...

  10. Epilogue Transgression as Sanctity? (pp. 231-248)

    Three years after Aslanbek Sheripov assimilated the abrek’s revolutionary violence to the Bolshevik rejection of tsarist rule, Walter Benjamin confronted the problem of violence in a context that, for all its seeming distance from Bolshevik Russia, similarly witnessed dramatic social upheavals, the decay of old political institutions, and newly emergent forms of social life. Although these thinkers could not have fully cognized what they shared in common, it is also no coincidence that they were both approaching violent deaths. The Weimar Republic had recently been established in the wake of Germany’s wartime defeat. Benjamin’s life, and financial prospects, had changed...

  11. APPENDIX I: The Abrek in Caucasus Vernacular Literatures (pp. 249-253)
  12. APPENDIX II: Georgian Text of Titsian Tabidze, “Gunib,” Rcheuli natsarmoebi 1:106 (pp. 254-256)
  13. Chronology of Texts, Authors, and Events (pp. 257-258)
  14. Abbreviations (pp. 259-260)
  15. Notes (pp. 261-296)
  16. Glossary (pp. 297-300)
  17. Bibliography (pp. 301-322)
  18. Acknowledgments (pp. 323-324)
  19. Index (pp. 325-336)