'Water Law' as an Instrument of Russian Imperial Policy in the Central Asian Khanates

17 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017

See all articles by Roman Pochekaev

Roman Pochekaev

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Students

Date Written: March 6, 2017


Water has always been an important resource for Central Asian states and peoples. Different rulers at different times used water, and access to it, as an instrument of political and even military influence. When the Russian Empire expanded into Central Asia, seizing substantial parts of three central Asian khanates (Bukhara, Khiva and Khoqand) and established its own protectorate over these states, its also found that water was one of the most effective means to control the rulers and peoples of Central Asia. The use of water and irrigation policy as an instrument of rule was effectively used by the Russian Empire in its relations with the Central Asian khanates and this has already been the subject of investigation. This paper analyses the legal regulation of water use and the irrigation policy of the Russian Empire in Turkestan in order to influence the Bukharan Emirate and the Khivan Khanate during the epoch of the Russian protectorate (1870s–1910s). The paper demonstrates how the internal “water law” was a starting point in Russian policy towards Bukhara and Khiva, and shows that each subsequent stage was closely connected to the evolution of the “water law” in the Russian Turkestan. The sources are official documents (including legal acts) of the Russian Empire, correspondence of Russian and Central Asian statesmen, memoirs of contemporaries and the notes of Russian visitors to khanates (diplomats, engineers, etc.) who participated in the realization of Russian water policy in Bukhara and Khiva and could estimate its effectiveness.

Keywords: Russian Empire, Central Asia, water use, water law, Emirate of Bukhara, Khanate of Khiva, modernization, protectorates

JEL Classification: К19

Suggested Citation

Pochekaev, Roman, 'Water Law' as an Instrument of Russian Imperial Policy in the Central Asian Khanates (March 6, 2017). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 73/LAW/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928025 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2928025

Roman Pochekaev (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Students ( email )


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