Print this Page. Send this Page.


In the State University of Khujand,2014.

Muhiddin Faizulloev accomplished his ethnographic studies in Moscow in 1974. He defended his doc­toral thesis (aspirantura) in 1986 in Moscow. He worked and contributed to the ethnographic Museum in Khujand, taught at the Technical University of Khujand, the State University of Khujand and prepa­red the path to the opening of the first Ethnographic Department in Tajikistan in 1999. 

Over the period of twenty years he accompanied more than thirty expeditions and produced many ethnographic field diaries. Even more interesting was that he had worked with and for Sergei Polyakov (Moscow State University) and Valentin Bushkov (Main Archival Department, Moscow), two ethnographers who have extensively published on Tajik people especially in the Ferghana valley. When I learned about Faizulloev’s life which was so deeply interwoven with the lives of Russian and western ethnographers I decided to review some of the existing literature by Poliakov and Bushkov through the biography and ethnographic writings of Faizulloev. 

Faizulloev studied in Dushanbe and Moscow and finished his dissertation after a long struggle. Later, Polyakov asked him to finish his habilitation. However, by that time the Soviet Union had collapsed and Faizulloev had neither the resources nor the time for such work. Throughout his career he was caught between power struggles and personal jealousy games; he was a researcher who served as an assistant and colleague with insight into knowledge production in the field of Soviet ethnography.[1]  The ethnographic material upon which Polyakov and Bushkov built their theories is contained in the numerous field notebooks[2] that fill his private study room. Yet in the Russian language ethnographies, the material has been filtered according to the trend set in Moscow. Until the mid-1980s this trend followed Yulyan Bromlei’s theory of ethnicity and since perestroika turned towards the study of Central Asian societies as primarily Muslim people, a turn that broke the intimate relationship between the ethnographers from the centre (Moscow) and the periphery (Tajikistan).

Selction of publications: M. Faizulloev and A. Abduqodirov. Marosimu ma’rakahoi Khujand. Khujand: Maqomoti ijroiyai hokimiyati davlatii shahri Khujand, 2008; Makhalla sovernogo Tadzhikistana kontsa XIX vv. (na primere Khodjenta i ego prigorodov). Khodzhent, 1974; « Izmenenie traditsinnoi kul’tury tadzhikov v sotsial’noi edinetse – makhalle kontsa XIX I nachala XX vv ». In: Yunesko-50, Kul’tua, proshloe, nastoyashchee i budushee. Khodzhent, 1997; « Slozhenie sovremennykh gorodskikh kvartalov-makhallya v Tadzhikistane (po materialam g. Khodzhenta) ». In: Islam i narodnaya kul’tura, 1998.


For a complete biography and review of his work in soviet ethnography see:

The Faithful Assistant. Muhiddin Faizulloev‘s Life and Work in the Light of Russian Ethnography. Working Paper of FMSH 2014.


More on biography


Моя биография

[1] In our discussions, Muhiddin Faizulloev insisted upon calling the work of the ethnographers in Russia (primarily Moscow) “Soviet ethnography”. I will keep this terminology, although I believe that here, Soviet means primarily Russian, which gives little space to either theoretical concepts or academic voices from the rest of the Soviet Union.

[2] I prefer to call them field notebooks rather than diaries because they contain mainly interview notes, and less observations and personal reflections, which are typical of a diary.