Журнал Фронтирных Исследований (Mar 2022)

Urbanization Processes in the Steppe Krai and Turkestan (late 19th – early 20th Centuries)

  • Irina B. Bochkareva,
  • Alexey A. Eremin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 1
pp. 74 – 93


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At the beginning of the 20th century, the processes of urbanization were actively taking place in the Russian Empire, but in different regions they went with varying degrees of intensity. Modernization changes in the traditional agricultural and nomadic societies of the Central Asian region began after its final annexation to the Russian Empire, which happened quite late – in the 60-70s of the 19th century. Based on the data of statistical surveys of the Steppe and Turkestan general-governorate’s areas, the authors analyze the urban population’s dynamics, the movement of its class and national composition in order to assess the level of urbanization of the region, as to what extent it reflects the general patterns of modernization and what is its regional specificity. The graphs compiled according to the Surveys show that in all nine areas of the region there was a quantitative increase in the urban population. The main incentives for urban growth were trade and railway construction. At the same time, another trend is observed: the proportion of citizens in the entire population does not increase significantly, but fluctuates in the range of several percentage points. The absence of pronounced dynamics of the urban population outpacing growth over the rural population indicates the initial stage of the Central Asia’s urbanization. The low intensity of urbanization is quite corresponded to the Central Asian economic modernization imperial strategy, which consisted in the development of commodity specialization of agricultural sector for the needs of the metropolitan industry and peasant colonization of the region.