Home    Number 3, 2022

An American’s Adventure in Central Asia: Eugene Schuyler on the Kyrgyz

[Prikliuchenie amerikantsa v Tsentral’noi Azii: Yudzhin Skailer o kyrgyzakh]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522030095


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 15.07.2021

Accepted: 08.04.2022

About author(s)

Cholpon Turdalieva | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4375-2566 | turdalieva_c@auca.kg | American University of Central Asia (7/6 Aaly Tokomaeva prospect, Bishkek, 119991, Kyrgyzstan)


Schuyler, Russian colonialism, Orientalism, travel, travelogue, Kyrgyz, tribe


The article examines the information about the Kyrgyz people collected during a trip to Central Asia by the American diplomat, traveler, and scholar Eugene Schuyler in the 19th century. On the one hand, his voyage was likely an adventure, since at that time few foreigners visited the little-explored and newly colonized territories of Central Asia. On the other hand, it was a prearranged business trip with a specific purpose. In 1873 (at the beginning of Russian colonization), Schuyler visited the region and gathered information about the region’s nature, landscape, climate, and ethnic groups. Three years later, in 1876, he published a two-volume work entitled “Turkistan”, which became a bestseller at the time. It still has not lost its scholarly significance and popularity. Even though some information on Central Asians and the Kyrgyz was borrowed by Schuyler from Russian and European authors, he offered his own analysis of the facts and events that he witnessed or participated in. His reliable testimonies and astute analysis are of undoubted value. In this sense, his approach echoes the Franz Boas’ concept of cultural relativism, according to which the history and culture of an ethnic group should be viewed through the prism of its own origin and development. However, Schuyler’s work is not beyond criticism. His statement that colonialism, including the Russian one, is the only source of civilization clearly reflects his biased Eurocentric views and class position.


Turdalieva, C. 2022. Prikliuchenie amerikantsa v Tsentral’noi Azii: Yudzhin Skailer o kyrgyzakh [An American’s Adventure in Central Asia: Eugene Schuyler on the Kyrgyz]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 159–175. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522030095 EDN: HVQQQM

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