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Language Reform in the ex-Soviet Muslim States: Success or Failure?


Institut für Turkologie

Prof. Dr. Barbara Kellner-Heinkele
Prof.em. Jacob M. Landau, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Brigitte Heuer, M.A.
Deutsch-Israelische Stiftung für Wissenschaftliche Forschung und Entwicklung (GIF)


01.01.2007 — 31.12.2009


The research project will analyse and compare the degree of success and failure of language policies since independence, 1991-2008, in the ex- Soviet Muslim States with a focus on the politics not only of major competing languages like Russian and the titular ones, but also of the political perceptions and activities concerning numerous minority languages in these states, which are still largeley downgraded and differentiated against. It is our premise that official claims of promoting multiculturalism are largely unsubstantiated in the six new Muslim states and that a thorough examination of the situation over two decades aling with well-balanced suggestions to deal with it would offer ways to diffuse internal tensions and promote a multicultural atmosphere. The two PIs and their respective assistants in Berlin and Jerusalem will examine scholarly and official publications, reports, statistics, the media, and the internet for the language reforms in the six ex-Soviet Muslim states. The PIs - and the sub-contractors in these states - will interview public figures and others on the main issues of politolinguistics there with some emphasis on language rivalry and competition in bureaucracy, education, and politics, not merely between Russian and the titular languages, but more especially on the position of the numerous minority languages, long discriminated against, in a period of nation building. The research is significant not only becuase it will uncover new data and explain them as part of a theoretical analyses of post-colonial language issues but also due to its aim to bring policy recommendations, chiefly re the minority languages.

In 2012 the book "Language Politics in Contemporary Central Asia. National and Ethnic Identity and the Soviet Legacy" by Jacob M. Landau and Barbara Kellner-Heinkele was published by I.B. Tauris.


Jacob M. Landau & Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Politics of Language in the ex-Soviet Muslim States. Azerbayjan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. London: Hurst & Comp., 2001; (Yazykovaya politika v musul'manskikh gosudarstvakh-byvshikh sovetskikh soyuznykh respublikakh. (...), Moskva: Progress-Traditsiya Press, 2004).

Brigitte Heuer: „Til tagdyr – el tagdyr“: Das Schicksal der Sprache ist das Schicksal des Volkes – ein Jahrzehnt Sprachenpolitik im unabhängigen Kyrgyzstan. In: Berliner Osteuropa Info, Nr. 17 (2001), S. 24–30°. Als pdf hier.

Brigitte Heuer und Barbara Kellner-Heinkele: Sprachenpolitik in den ex-sowjetischen muslimischen Staaten: Kazachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzikistan und Azerbajzan – ein Projektbericht. In: Berliner Osteuropa Info, Nr. 13 (1999), S. 27–29°.