Recognition in Oxford: The History of the Tatars presented in the international arena

Recognition in Oxford: The History of the Tatars presented in the international arena Photo: Maksim Platonov

Pseudohistory deprives people of self-determination. Misconceptions developing over the years remain in the minds of entire generations. The online newspaper Realnoe Vremya communicated with those who step by step were moving to the formation of impartial history and its spread in the world, to see the mouth of objective sources.

Own place in the world history

''Our people have a difficult history,'' told in an interview to Realnoe Vremya the first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev. ''Before the 1917 revolution, and after it, when the centralized ideology established, given the very active role of the Tatars in the world history, there were many distortions in the history of the Tatar people. We have not even had a chance to say a word, our intellectuals did not allow to do this, there were attempts, but they ended badly.''

So it turns out that the history of a particular nation acquires imaginary concepts, such as ''myths about the Tatars as evil, cruel conquerors who forced Russia into middle ages for centuries''. Director of the Institute of History named after Mardzhani Rafael Khakimov said that ''in Europe, there are still myths that the Tartars are from Tartarus and seized half of Europe''. Meanwhile, the scientific community continued research, analysis, examination and presentation of results in publications and books.

''Of course, the most important work is the seven-volume book The History of the Tatars, which we have been preparing for 15 years. The World Congress of the Tatars instructed to write the true history of the Tatars. We have fulfilled this instruction,'' said at the opening of the exhibition A Hundred Books on the History of the Tatars and Tatarstan last autumn Rafael Khakimov. Two hundred scientists from different countries have worked on the seven-volume history of the Tatars. Experts from around the world have been involved to the writing of certain sections. Among the authors there were less Tatars than representatives of other nationalities. Therefore, this work will finally allow to assert the place of the Tatar people in the world history.

This monograph tells how nations, including Russia, were formed. Photo: Maksim Platonov

The object of special attention is the collective monograph The Golden Horde in World History created jointly with the University of Oxford. ''This monograph tells how many nations, including Russia, were formed. It gives an opportunity to see the role of the Golden Horde in the formation of the world space in general, because the sample of the state was very bright. That is why today it is impossible to exclude the Tatars from the world history and especially from the Russian history. Our work will give the opportunity for world scientists to understand that in Tatarstan they are making efforts in order to recreate the most objective historical picture,'' Secretary of the Department of Humanities of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan Nail Valeyev commented on the monograph to Realnoe Vremya.

To go beyond the circle of Russian-speaking scientists

However, it was also not enough on a scale of the global scientific community — the books were to appear in English. ''Otherwise, the circle is narrowed to certain Russian-speaking scientists,'' says Khakimov. Besides, it is very important from the point of view of dissemination of information about the history of the Tatars at universities as particularly they in Europe are the basis for politicians, journalists and for those who make decisions at the state level — it all starts from university. If we want to change views on the Tatars from negative to positive, we should start with university.'' So they did. Seven volumes(!) of The History of the Tatars and the monograph The Golden Horde in World History were translated and published in the English language. The delivery ceremony of the first copy of the works to the Bodleian Library took place this spring in Oxford. At the ceremony, a fellow at the Oxford University and the Sorbonne University Marie Favereau Doumenjou stressed the importance of further research. She said that the Golden Horde is part of the common heritage of the mankind. It included state-heirs of the Mongol Empire in China, Afghanistan, India, Persia and Anatolia such as Byzantium, Rus', Europe and the Middle East. The phenomenon of the Golden Horde had a much more profound influence on the formation of states and the course of the world history than it was previously seen by the Western academia.

The delivery ceremony of the first copy of the works to the Bodleian Library took place this spring in Oxford. Photo: Institute of History named after Mardzhani of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences

Meanwhile, the Institute of History named after Mardzhani headed by Khakimov is not going to be satisfied with what has already been achieved. The next presentation in Warsaw has already been scheduled. ''A whole tour is being under preparation, where we will look for burial places and, at the same time, present the monograph and the seven-volume work,'' said Khakimov after visiting England.

''Tatarstan will join the world space thanks to TAIF''

''This event is important not only for our Republic and the Tatar people,'' said Chairman of the Committee of the State Council of Tatarstan on education, culture, science and national issues Razil Valeyev. ''It is a huge event for the entire Turkic world and Russia because for the first time we enter with the objective history on the international stage. Before that, every historian interpreted discretions on his own way, but now scientists around the world have taken part in the creation of these works. The great merit of the Institute of History named after Mardzhani is that they have attracted scientists not only from Tatarstan and Russia, but also from other countries, because when they look at our history — this is a more objective assessment of the history. The Tatars have a proverb: if you want to know how you live, ask your neighbour. And here they addressed to prominent scientists, and no one can question their assessments.''

This project has become possible through the direct participation of the group of companies TAIF. Photo: Institute of History named after Sh. Mardzhani of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences

This project has become possible through the direct participation of the group of companies TAIF and the understanding of the company's management that it is a matter of national importance and that Tatarstan would be able to declare itself absolutely from other positions. ''We were in constant dialogue with Director General of TAIF Group Albert Shigabutdinov,'' explains Razil Valeyev. ''It has become clear that we need to expand the sphere of influence. TAIF is included in the cohort of global sponsors, those who spend money on great prospects. With their support, thousands of new people learn about the Tatars, Tatarstan, Kazan. Thanks to the group of companies TAIF, Tatarstan will enter the world space, the Tatar people will become famous in the world. Tourism will develop more, the flow of investments to the Republic will increase. It has been a great feat. Now a new countdown will start in Tatarstan.''

The next presentation in Warsaw has already been scheduled. Photo: Institute of History named after Sh. Mardzhani

In general, in Russia such a huge work as the translation of the seven volumes had never been done before. It all started with the announcement of the tender, and four organizations were considered as candidates. In the opinion of scientists, a greater professionalism was demonstrated by the Moscow company. And it was chosen. ''Especially difficult was the first volume, there is very specific terminology. Moscow attracted more than 30 best translators. On our, side two English-speaking fellows were responsible for the quality of translation: one from the Institute of History, another from the Finnish University. At first, there were a lot of complaints to the translation. The translators tried to use calque, but this is completely wrong. In the end, they still managed to come to a common denominator, and they did a good English version. Standards of translation terms appeared, and now scientists can bring their terminology in accordance because Tatar names when translated into English sound different,'' tells about details of the work Razil Valeyev.

Thus, the seven-volume History of the Tatars and the monograph, written by prominent scientists, are the counterweight that the Republic, thanks to TAIF, has put before the world.

The seven-volume History of the Tatars and the monograph, written by prominent scientists, are the counterweight that the Republic, thanks to TAIF, has put before the world. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Fifty published books and another hundred in the future

''Actually, TAIF has sponsored the publication of many books,'' says Chairman of the board of the foundation Zhien Razil Valeyev. Together with the foundation, the diversified holding company for the past 20 years have published books, in particular, about famous people of the Tatar people and those who had a direct relationship to Tatarstan, such as Aleksandr Butlerov and Karl Fuchs. ''It's kind of books from the series ''Life of remarkable people''. Thirty books have been published in that series, in the prospect there are another 100. They already gave to the press a book about a great composer Salikh Saydashev. We are preparing to publish a book about Kayum Nasyri. It is a big job. We do not receive money from the government. All is published on sponsorship money. We also publish other books, such as albums published by the anniversary of our eminent people. In particular, by the anniversary of Ilham Shakirov we have published three albums. In total, 50 books have been published.'' Including, the pride of the foundation — the solid two-volume Tuqay in the Covenants by the 130th anniversary of the Tatar national poet, widely celebrated last year. ''This unique book consists of documents and memories, which for various reasons had not previously been published, so this two-volume work rediscovers Tuqay,'' says Razil Valeyev. So through books, the present remains forever, people and events, thanks to those who are willing gratuitously to finance their publication, realizing the importance of preserving historical consciousness.

By Yana Mikhailova