Swamps, sorghum and saxauls: Marginal lands and the fate of Russian Turkestan (c. 1880-1915)

Beatrice Penati

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article deals with rain-fed tilled land (bahārī) and wasteland in Russian Turkestan. On the basis of archival and published sources, the numerous twists and turns of Russian surveying policies before and after the endorsement of the 1886 Turkestan Statute are shown, and problems posed by the specific, mutable nature of bahārī land to the mechanism of land-tax allotment within each rural community, in particular for nonresident households are focused on. The 1900 amendments to the Statute radically changed the way land-tax was raised on bahārī land: thereafter it was to be calculated on the basis of its surface area instead of as a share of the harvest. Moreover, provisions passed in 1900, but fully implemented only in 1908, extended fiscal liability to wasteland whence villagers could earn an income through grazing, collecting firewood and other activities. It is demonstrated that these measures brought about a significant expansion in fiscal revenues, thus helping to narrow and ultimately redress the deficit in the Turkestan krai's primary budget, which had been a persistent problem since the region was originally annexed in 1865.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Specialist publicationCentral Asian Survey
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Cadastral mapping
  • Land-tax
  • Rain-fed agriculture
  • Russian Turkestan
  • Wasteland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Swamps, sorghum and saxauls: Marginal lands and the fate of Russian Turkestan (c. 1880-1915)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this