Where Have All the Jews Gone? Mass Migration from Independent Uzbekistan

Alanna E. Cooper

in The Divergence of Judaism and Islam

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037516
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042107 | DOI:
Where Have All the Jews Gone? Mass Migration from Independent Uzbekistan

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This chapter represents a historical-cultural anthropological undertaking. It is based on written sources and fieldwork in Uzbekistan, and includes comparative analysis of Uzbekistani Jews to those of Arab lands. The chapter emphasizes the Bukharan Jews, a community whose population dwindled, as the result of immigration, from 35,000 in 1989 to 1,000 in 2009. Most of the immigrants settled in Israel and the United States. Although Muslims and Jews alike confronted many hardships once the Russians withdrew and Uzbekistan became an independent nation-state in 1991, the Jews encountered greater difficulties. Like Jews of Arab lands in the 1950s and 1960s, the Bukharan Jews felt marginalized, because they were “outside of the nationalist project”; they also felt situated “on the weaker side of tense Muslim–Jewish relations.” Like the Jews of most Arab lands, who feared that the end of European oversight would mean a return to Arab domination and the loss of everything gained under colonialism, Jewish immigration from independent Uzbekistan was driven by similar concerns.

Keywords: Uzbekistan; Tajikistan; Bukharan Jews; Soviet colonialism; nationalism; immigration

Chapter.  10270 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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