Curative Powers: Medicine and Empire in Stalin's Central Asia

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University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003 - History - 239 pages
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Annotation Rich in oil and strategically located between Russia and China, Kazakhstan is one of the most economically and geopolitically important of the so-called Newly Independent States that emerged after the collapse of the USSR. Yet little is known in the West about its turbulent history under Soviet rule, particularly the ways that Soviet officials asserted colonial dominion over the Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities.

Curative Powers reconstructs how the Soviet government used medicine and public health policy to transform the society, politics, and culture of its outlying regions. On the surface, the Soviet drive to bring biomedicine to Kazakh Central Asia seems altruistic. By combining colonial and postcolonial theory with intensive archival and ethnographic research, however, Michaels reveals how Soviet authorities attempted to destroy traditional Kazakh culture.

In powerful, direct prose, Michaels examines the technologies, medical personnel, and public health initiatives intended to win theKazakh people's gratitude, and move the region toward what the Soviet state defined as civilization and political enlightenment. Grappling directly with the issue of Soviet colonialism, Curative Powers offers an in-depth exploration of this dramatic, bloody, and transformative era in Kazakhstan's history.

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