Valikhanov, Chokan Chinggisovich
(1835–1865)
   Widely considered the first Western-trained Kazakh intellectual, Valikhanov was important for furthering imperial connections between the Russians and Kazakh peoples. He worked closely with, and received the financial support of, the Russian Geographical Society and traveled widely across Semirech’e, Eastern Turkestan, and Lake Issyk-kul regions, documenting both the natural environment and describing the peoples whom he encountered in his journeys. Valikhanov also collected and produced the first written translation in Russian of the Kyrgyz epic poem “Manas.” Valikhanov’s ancestors included his grandfather, who was a Kazakh khan, and his father, who served the Russian imperial administration in Siberia. He was educated at the imperial Russian city of Omsk at the Siberian Cadets Corps Institute, which was considered the best educational institution in the region in those years. While there Valikhanov studied Western languages and developed a particular interest in ethnography. In 1856, he met Petr Semenov Tian-shanskii, who recommended to the Russian administration that Valikhanov be used in spying and diplomatic missions to Eastern Turkistan, particularly to Kashgar. This was considered an extremely dangerous mission, but one that he was well suited for because of his knowledge of the cultures and languages of this region. Chokan disguised himself on this mission to blend in with the Kashgar environs.
   During the latter 1850s and early 1860s, Valikhanov traveled around the Kazakh steppe and collected information on the history and culture of the Kazakhs and during this time cultivated a close personal relationship with exiled Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. Both men spent time in and around the city of Semipalatinsk, discussing history, literature, and other subjects. In 1861, Valikhanov chose to return to his home in the Semipalatinsk region after the onset of illness. During his final years, he continued to write and to collect information, which was published posthumously as his Collected Works by the Kazakh Academy of Sciences. He advised the Russian government against dealing with nomadic peoples the same way as other subjects of the empire. He argued that if they were dealt with on their own unique terms, the imperial relationship would be more fruitful. Valikhanov died in 1865 of lung complications.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Valikhanov, Chokan and Mikhail Ivanovich Venyukov. The Russians in Central Asia. London: E. Stanford, 1865.
   SCOTT C. BAILEY

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

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