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Subaltern Dialogues: Subversion and Resistance in Soviet Uzbek Family Law

Douglas Northrop
Slavic Review
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 115-139
DOI: 10.2307/2697646
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2697646
Page Count: 25
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Subaltern Dialogues: Subversion and Resistance in Soviet Uzbek Family Law
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Abstract

This article uses the rubric of colonialism and the approach of subaltern studies to understand Soviet efforts to create and enforce a category of "byt crimes" (crimes of daily life) in Uzbekistan during the 1920s and 1930s. As part of an "assault" (hujum) against patriarchy and female subordination, Soviet legislators outlawed a range of practices-including brideprice, polygyny, and marriage of young girls-that they deemed oppressive to women. As the article shows, however, this campaign to liberate Muslim women was neither simple nor straightforward. Party leaders and women's activists wished to "emancipate" Uzbek women through legal, judicial, and police action but found it difficult to devise effective ways to do so. Uzbek men and women reacted to, in many ways subverted, and ultimately reshaped party efforts. The encounter between Soviet power and Uzbek society resulted in complex processes of interplay and negotiation between the two, not simple dictation by one to the other.

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