Kaufman, Konstantin Petrovich von


Kaufman, Konstantin Petrovich von
(1818–1882)
   Konstantin Kaufman was the first governor-general of the Russian colony of Turkestan (1867–1881). During his long tenure as governor-general, he oversaw the conquest or defeat of the Central Eurasian states in Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand. The Russian government generally viewed his administration as successful because it established a certain continuity of Russian rule in Central Eurasia. Kaufman took a hands-off approach to dealing with the Islamic practices of Turkestan’s peoples. He was not reluctant, however, to interfere in such institutions as Islamic law when he found it necessary for the benefit of the state administration. Kaufman’s overall political style can be viewed as a mix of libertarian and authoritarian systems of rule. Although there was considerable autonomy at the local level for traditional rulers and for Islamic courts, their decisions could be ultimately overruled by his decree.
   Throughout his tenure, Kaufman argued that Turkestan was a unique colony with unique circumstances that required unique administrative measures. This colonial uniqueness justified the intervention on the part of regional leaders into provincial political or juridical affairs. It also allowed him to often stray from the proscribed statute of Turkestan rule, first promulgated in 1867. At the end of his career, a new statute was to be drafted. The commission found that Kaufman’s earlier assertion of certain native rights was faulty. Particularly controversial was Kaufman’s claim that Turkestan’s people should be free from military conscription. Among the other unique rights of individuals that Kaufman claimed were freedom of religion; preservation of marriage, property, and family traditions; and freedom from physical punishment. The Russian government found the military exemption particularly troubling.
   Kaufman’s Turkestan administration was progressive by the standards of the time. His administration carried out ethnographic surveys of the region, looked into educational reforms, and commissioned aides to identify social problems. He also instituted plans to improve cotton production and agriculture. He even created a forestry section of his administration to plant trees in the oasis cities of Turkestan. Like many other Western colonial administrators, Kaufman was a firm believer that European or Western civilization was far superior to Eastern or Oriental cultures and societies. He firmly hoped that Turkestan’s peoples would adopt Russian and European cultural ways. This would ultimately lead to their conversions to Christianity and their spirited support of the Russian imperial state.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Brower, Daniel. Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire. London: Routledge Courzon, 2003;
    Meyer, Karl E., and Shareen Blair Brysac. Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia. Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1999;
    Schuyler, Eugene. Notes of a Journey in Russian Turkistan. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1885.
   SCOTT C. BAILEY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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