History of the Northern Kirghiz Chieftains, 1800-1935


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


A unique category of hereditary chieftains, called manaps, emerged among the northern Kirghiz (Central Asian Turkic mountain nomads) in the early nineteenth century and dominated Kirghiz politics and society until the Stalin era. These chieftains constituted a special estate within northern Kirghiz society that does not fit the familiar model of “tribal” power used in historical and anthropological analyses of Eurasian nomad political formations. The manap estate empowered politically sophisticated leaders to exploit categories like tribe and kinship as “technologies of governance,” which played into the expectations and agendas of expanding empires. This project elucidates critical moments in the political, social, and cultural history of the manap estate.