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Gould, Rebecca Ruth (2016) 'The Abrek in Soviet Chechen Literature.' In: Gould, Rebecca Ruth, (ed.), Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 33-91. (Eurasia past and present)

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This chapter traces the emergence of the anticolonial bandit (abrek) in Chechen Soviet literature. Beyond mapping this institution onto its broader social context, it studies how the sanctification of social banditry in Soviet literature recalibrates the dialectic between colonial and indigenous law in the nineteenth-century Caucasus. This dialectic is further complicated by the plurality of local legal norms, which oscillated between indigenous law (ʿādīt) and Islamic jurisprudence (sharīʿa). Rooted in precolonial traditions, the abrek functioned as the dominant idiom of indigenous insurgency during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century as the Muslim peoples of the Caucasus confronted the overwhelming force of Russia's imperial army. During the Soviet period, representing the abrek was one of the most powerful ways for the indigenous literary elite to contest imperial law. Drawing on Chechen, Russian, and Georgian literatures of anticolonial insurgency, the chapter reverses the causal relations between base and superstructure that obtain in Ranajit Guha's “elementary aspects of peasant insurgency” to document how the literary imagination mediates the memory of popular insurgency.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Chechen Soviet literature, anticolonial bandit, abrek, indigenous law, Islamic jurisprudence, indigenous insurgency, Caucasus, Muslims
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISBN: 9780300200645
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 15:26

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