Exotic Bodies in Soviet Culture: The Caucasus, Empire, and Revolutionary Old Age

Botakoz Kassymbekova

Rereading David Shub, “Kamo—The Legendary Old Bolshevik of the Caucasus,” The Russian Review 19, 3 (July 1960): 227-247.       


Eivazov Makhmud Bagir Ogly

The oldest resident of the Azerbaijan SSR, collective farm member Eivazov Makhmud Bagir Ogly, supposedly 148 years-old, 1956. Wikimedia Commons      


Bodies and the Revolution

The socialist revolution, some historians suggest, allowed ordinary Russians to search for new selves and inscribe their new identities into the “progressive” Soviet epoch or the “Soviet reformation.”[1] However, while the socialist revolution and Soviet culture may have provided a framework for the personal transformation of “ordinary” Russians into progressive Soviet citizens, it also acted as an imperial discourse that constructed Soviet “Orientals,” offering a substantially different framework according to which the people of the Caucasus and Central Asia, especially those living in rural areas, could imagine themselves and their cultures within Soviet discourse. It is consequently fascinating that just such a framework appears in David Schub’s article “Kamo – the Legendary Old Bolshevik of the Caucasus,” which was published in The Russian Review in 1960.[2]

In his description of the revolutionary activities of Simon Arshaki Ter-Petrosyan (Kamo), one of Stalin’s closest associates, David Shub, an émigré, entangles himself in the Russian and Soviet imperial discourse of the “dangerous,” “exotic,” and “adventurous” Caucasus. Kamo is described as a “Caucasian bandit” who did things that “terrified” the Cossacks, so much so that “All Russia, and later Germany, seethed with talk of Kamo.”[3] Kamo was “legendary” and “[h]is bold, almost unbelievable exploits and adventures became generally known only after the Revolution of 1917; they surpassed the imaginative creations of the best novelists and mystery writers.”[4] He outwitted not only police officers, but also German psychiatrists while faking insanity during an arrest in Berlin. He also possessed a “legendary” body that endured severe torture, to the extent that German doctors claimed that “a normal person could not endure such pain.”[5] Kamo’s zealous loyalty to the revolution—and to Lenin personally—made Lenin feel, according to Shub, “great pity for this extremely daring but naïve man with a fiery soul who was ready to embark on great doings but did not know what to tackle next.”[6] Maxim Gorky, too, spoke of Kamo in exoticizing terms: “They [German doctors and prison officers] of course, know their business, their science. But they do not know the Caucasians. Maybe every Caucasian is insane, as far as they are concerned. Well, who will drive whom mad?”[7]

As these statements from the revolution’s leading ideologists attest, in many ways revolutionary rhetoric maintained the tsarist imperial tradition of exoticizing the Caucasus and its peoples. Soviet cultural discourse in many ways maintained it, too, for Kamo was not the only person from the Caucasus believed to have a legendary, almost superhuman body. In this essay, I analyze Soviet cultural production of Caucasian long-lifers, or supercentenarians (kavkazskie dolgozhiteli), on the Soviet screen. These cinematic figures were Caucasians, usually men, who surpassed ninety, sometimes allegedly reaching 180 years of age.[8] Soviet reports proclaimed that the Caucasus was the region with the highest rate of Soviet supercentenarians, supposedly the oldest people on earth.[9] The long-lifers became the Caucasus’ cultural trademark and a source of Union-wide pride. The Abkhazian Ethnographic Ensemble of Long-Lifers, founded in 1946, toured not only the Soviet Union but also abroad; pamphlets for foreign tourists boasted of local longevity; and international scientific cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s helped spread the word about Caucasian longevity to the West and, as a result, found their way in Western commercials.[10] According to an American scholar who was invited by the USSR to study the group: “These ‘miracles of nature,’ usually men, had invariably outlived half a dozen wives, sired numerous children, and boasted of even more grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”[11]

Rather than tackling Soviet gerontological scholarship or the government’s policy objectives regarding old age, I am interested in the accompanying cultural representation of rural Caucasian long-lifers as a bodily representation of notions of Soviet health and the state’s purportedly progressive presence in the region.[12] Although initially, the figure of a Caucasian supercentenarian was likely created to satisfy Stalin who, according to émigré scholar Zhores Medvedev, liked to hear about Caucasian natural longevity, it outlived the Soviet leader.[13] The narrative transformed over the decades, adapting to the needs of new Soviet objectives, such as the employment of the elderly and the legitimization of the Politburo’s gerontocracy, and it persisted until the USSR’s demise.[14] What were Caucasian males’ uniquely old bodies meant to represent within Soviet cultural discourse?

Soviet discourse on Caucasian super-longevity was more than simply an idiom for celebrating Caucasian peoples and their exoticized bodies. Following the observation that individual bodies, “have long been at the center of sovereign logics,” in which they figure as “the focus of morality” tales to “(re)legitimize rule,” I suggest viewing the tale of Caucasian supercentenarians as an imperial story.[15] This imperial tale was one of many among a repertoire of archetypes about Caucasus life, which aimed to represent Soviet rule as healthy, benevolent, and progressive, and to obscure the violence and humiliation used to enforce it. Allegorically, this imperial tale was informed by and operated within a larger cultural genre of Russian literary representations of the Caucasus as primitive and distant land and Russia as an innocent and sacrificing martyr.

The myth’s gerontological coloring functioned as a visual trope that allowed for the Soviet adaptation and transformation of the Russian colonial myth about the highlanders of the Caucasus as unruly savages.[16] In the new version of the Soviet myth, Caucasian highlanders were allegorically transformed from wild, dangerous warriors to peaceful, welcoming, and cheerful super-elders, who were literally referred to as grandfathers (dedushki). They featured as living proof of the Caucasus’ peaceful coexistence with and loyalty to the Russian, and later the Soviet, center. Instead of Mikhail Lermontov’s “evil Chechen,” who is “sharpening his knife” to attack innocent Cossacks, in the Soviet visual trope, the Chechen and other Caucasian long-lifers were no longer dangerous; on the contrary, they cheerfully welcomed Russian “guests” and peacefully engaged in peasant work.[17] Yet, while Soviet Caucasian supercentenarians were pacified, they were nonetheless portrayed as archaic and exotic natives, who spoke foreign languages and wore exotic clothes.

This ethno-gerontological discourse enabled a narrative of both difference and hierarchical integration: the reports communicated the diversity of the Soviet multiethnic empire, a diversity from which the USSR profited. In the case of the Caucasus, the profit was through learning about longevity, bodily resilience to age, and the values and habits that enabled both. The healing nature of the Caucasus could attract visitors, while also casting the Soviet Union as a broad, powerful, and civilizing polity.[18] The health narrative communicated a mutually beneficial “contract”—while Moscow enabled the Caucasus to live to its full potential, in return, the Caucasus shared its nature and territory—obscuring the fact that the “contract” was imaginary, internally inconsistent, and externally imposed. Apart from projecting the imperial imagination, Soviet ethno-gerontology served touristic purposes, which, as Anne Gorsuch shows, functioned as “a way of taming these unpredictable places and minorities by Sovietizing their spaces for tourist consumption.”[19]

Old Age as a Claim

Since the 1940s, Soviet popular documentaries about Caucasian supercentenarians aimed to communicate geriatric advice and enable Soviet governance. First, they communicated gerontological instructions regarding how to live a healthy life so as to enable longevity: continuous physical activity, a modest plant and lactose-based diet, moderate alcohol consumption (if any), and abstention from smoking.[20] Most features argued that these were Caucasian supercentenarians’ traditional habits and a form of “local wisdom.”[21] However, there were also culturally specific factors for successful super-ageing in the Caucasus, which included its family-centered traditionalism and the high social status accorded to elders.[22] The documentaries portrayed Caucasian cultures as neatly ordered patriarchal entities and called them “gerontophile societies,” evoking early twentieth-century British colonial scholarship describing “primitive” societies in Africa.[23] The elderly were presented as key players in rural Caucasian societies and emphasis was placed on their moral authority over the young.[24]  Supercentenarians were literally called “patriarchs” and their families were depicted as large and harmonious. A 1964 feature about supposedly 158-year-old Sherali Muslimov, a member of the Talysh minority in Azerbaijan, described the supercentenarian as a contemporary of Pushkin and Lermontov who “greeted the revolution as a 100-year-old” and entered the region’s first collective farm. He was pictured amid his 150 descendants, who cherished and respected him.[25] Families, the features suggested in a paternalistic tone, were the “key to happiness.”[26] The younger generations’ unconditional respect for the elderly, most features suggested, provided the super-elderly with a positive emotional resource that promoted good ageing. Thus, the 1979 film Kogda Prikhodit Starost’ (When Old Age Comes) commented on a supercentenarian, Dzugat, who:


never knew a quarrel in the family. His sons and grandchildren understand him without words. And what else does he need? Warmth, respect – he has these in abundance. The tradition of deep respect for the elderly, especially for authoritative patriarchs [pochtennym patriarkham], is one of the ancient traditions of the Abkhaz people.[27]

Furthermore, Soviet discourse promoted the idea that Caucasian peoples’ natural joyfulness and zest for life led to extraordinary longevity. Most documentaries about the Caucasian super-elderly depicted traditional feasting, singing, and dancing scenes in pristine natural settings. However, the films continuously highlighted that it was socialism that created the conditions for joy among the elderly. [28] One documentary from 1946 commented that the elderly were “eyewitnesses to the previous hard life” of the tsarist period and therefore could “truly cherish the happiness and joy of socialist rule.”[29] While local ethnic feasts were deployed to represent the superiority of socialist order, they dressed Soviet victory in traditional sounds, choreographies, and clothing to declare Soviet rule as the people’s rule. Such features aimed to represent the naturalness of the Soviet government’s presence in the region.[30]

The documentaries featuring Caucasian super longevity accommodated a Russian imperial trope which Bruce Grant terms a “gift exchange,” in which Russia sacrificed its best sons to bring civilization to the savage region.[31] However, instead of Russian captives in the hands of Caucasian “barbarians,” Soviet documentaries presented Caucasian supercentenarians in the hands of Soviet doctors who measured, admired, and cared for them.[32] The medicalized imagery of the half-naked supercentenarians depicted standing or sitting in front of Soviet doctors tells a story of “possession without subjugation and violence.”[33] Soviet intervention in Caucasus was portrayed as scientific, humane, and progressive, an “innocent pursuit of knowledge” and thus a “non-conquest.”[34] Soviet scholars in these films are “restorer[s] of a pristine and Romanticized past.”[35] Crucially, the joyful hospitality of Caucasian peasants, who welcome Russian scholars and journalists arriving by airplane and car at traditional feasts and dances highlight the fact that the latter’s “essential superiority is accepted.”[36]

Sharing the grammar of a nature documentary, the mountaineers of the Caucasus were presented as members of archaic communities needing to be brought to light.[37] Soviet medical discourse presented the perceived biological exceptionalism of Caucasian mountaineers as remarkable and thus worthy of Soviet scholarship. Caucasian supercentenarians were measured and presented as objects of progressive knowledge, featuring in films as speechless, biologized bodies that were semi-scientifically described in a paternalistic and nostalgic tone by an external commentator from the metropole.[38] These films maintained the techniques of Russian “colonial bureaucracy [which] occupied itself, especially from the 1860s, with classifying people and their attributes, with censuses, surveys, and ethnographies.”[39] Soviet ethno-gerontology merged with ethnography and discovery literature, serving as “[n]ew scientific disciplines [that] helped produce and codify social and moral distinctions between groups by identifying ‘essential’ markers of difference and grounding them in nature.”[40]


The narrative of Caucasian longevity produced clear-cut hierarchies. TV reports explicitly contrasted the Caucasian super-elderly to the Russian urban elderly, with the latter depicted as active intellectuals who sacrificed themselves for the sake of science, progress, and the state, even though they had the opportunity to retire.[41] The comparison allowed the Soviet, Russian-speaking urban audience to perceive itself as progressive, tolerant, and kind.[42] Moreover, travel documentary accounts allowed Soviet scientist-explorers from the metropoles to stage their “sovereignty,” while entrusting the agents of empire—party functionaries, doctors, engineers, and ethnographers—with a civilizing mission: explore, study and showcase.[43] Remarkably, although cities were presented as nodes of civilization, they were also described as sources of stress and pollution.[44] Thus, in the reports on Caucasian supercentenarians, Russian-speaking urbanites were transformed into martyrs of the Soviet Union, who sacrificed themselves so that the “natives” could enjoy healthy and peaceful lives. The power at work on the screen was cast as a humane power. Its possessors were not only able to see the good in a different culture, but also urged to work hard for that culture’s benefit. Soviet imperial rule was not presented as a Western colonializing power, but rather a modernizing progressive force.


Old Age as a Story of Violence

The peaceful image of Caucasian grandfathers aimed to narrate imperial innocence, but concealed a history of violence. Just as elderly, cheerful “patriarchs” enacted caricatures of a Caucasian type, so, too, was the myth of Caucasian longevity a caricature of the Russian and Soviet presence in the region. It implied the peaceful coexistence of Caucasian nations within the USSR, but obscured a past of brutal displacements and genocidal violence.[45] The depiction of pristine, untouched scenes of the natural world seemingly protected by mountains showed no trace of the footprints of colonization and the militant local resistance once waged against it. Representing Chechen and Ingush supercentenarians as cheerleaders for the socialist revolution and Soviet rule glossed over the long history of their marginalization. The Soviet state’s deportations of the Chechens and the Ingush to Central Asia in February and March 1944 killed, according to some estimates, up to a half of the population, who died from hunger, cold, and disease, disproportionately affecting the elderly and children.[46] Some were murdered because of their resistance to forceful resettlement or because the Soviet troops lacked adequate transportation to move them.[47] Although reporting about Caucasian supercentenarians “celebrated” local cultures, the bearers of those cultures endured consistent degradation, especially during deportation and forced exile. As Campana Aurelie wrote about Chechen deportations:


The violence towards women and elders, the non-respect of beliefs, traditions and customs are strongly committed to memory. Survivors systematically point to the fact that men and women were put together in the same cars without any division. They also commonly evoke that they were not allowed to bury, as required by the Muslim tradition, persons who died in the convoys. When visiting the cars during the rare stops, the NKVD guards threw out the dead bodies.[48]

A feature about a supposedly 180-year-old Chechen, who attained such longevity by spending all of his life in the mountains, systematically omitted the history of forced exile and obscured the fact that many Chechen people were not allowed to return to their native mountainous villages, but were forced to settle in the lowlands after returning from exile.[49] Some regions were sealed off against habitation or occupied by other ethnic groups, mostly Russians.[50]While the super-elderly were occasionally depicted wearing Soviet medals as a sign of loyalty to the Soviet state, neither service in World War II nor the fact that the Chechen, Ingush, Balkar, and Karachai communities were punished for alleged disloyalty during the war was mentioned. The portrayal of welcoming, peaceful, cheerful, and loyal Caucasian supercentenarians aimed to pacify their image, but it was still haunted by the notion of Caucasian highlanders as “[t]errorist groups,” “bandits,” and “hostile elements.”[51]

By stressing basic bodily habits and “archaic” traditions instead of complex and changing social roles, inner worlds, and complicated biographies, Soviet ethno-gerontology demasculinized, exoticized, and primitivized Caucasian men. Soviet ethno-gerontology served the Soviet imperial strategy of constructing a dichotomy between primitive “others” and the “rational,” urban, Russian-speaking metropolitan audience within the Soviet discourse of a “friendship of peoples.”  The “ostentatious show of respect” toward non-Russian cultures, as Terry Martin suggests, aimed to depoliticize them and their pasts.[52] The figure of the Caucasian supercentenarian legitimized the Soviet presence in the region, but also obliterated the history of its conquest and the tragedies its peoples experienced.


While much has been written about official Soviet nationality policies toward non-Russian peoples, historians are still striving to understand how non-Russian groups shaped Soviet culture and informed subjectivities in the imperial center. While many Bolsheviks were from the Caucasus and the region was an important space for Soviet cultural production, it was also a cultural frontier used to construct a metropolitan, Russified understanding of Sovietness, which reduced non-Russian people into peripheral subjects, receivers of metropolitan progress and modernity. The figurative transformation of Kamo, the “bandit” Bolshevik, into a benign supercentenarian grandfather mirrored the transformation of an anti-imperial Bolshevik revolution into an imperial Soviet culture.

Botakoz Kassymbekova is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Basel.

This research was funded in whole by the Wellcome Trust (209842/Z/17/Z). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. I would like to thank Bruce Grant, Daniel Goldberg, Susan Grant, Susanne Schattenberg, Martina Winkler, Meike Lehman for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this essay.

[1] Sheila Fitzpatrick, Tear off the Masks. Identity and Imposture in Twentieth Century Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 3; Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind. Writing a Diary under Stalin, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 37.

[2] Shub, “Kamo—The Legendary Old Bolshevik of the Caucasus,” The Russian Review 19, 3 (July 1960): 227-247.

[3] Shub, “Kamo,” 227.

[4] Shub, “Kamo,” 227-228.

[5] Shub, “Kamo,” 237.

[6] Shub, “Kamo,” 242.

[7] Shub, “Kamo,” 246.

[8] The first press coverage of supercentenarians occurred in the late 1930s and the first scientific ten-day expedition in the Caucasus devoted to studying them was conducted in 1937 by the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in and around Sukhumi. Aleksandr Bogomolets, Prodlenie Zhizni (Kiev: 1940), 79–82.

[9] D. Iu. Guseinov, “Gerontologia i Geriatria v Azerbaidzhanskoi SSR,” Azerbaidzhanskii Meditskinskii Zhurnal (Baku: Ministerstvo Zdravookhraneniia Azerbaidzhanskoi SSR, 1970) 40. For the proliferation of the genre in the 1970s and 1980s see also V. I. Kozlov, “Vvedenie ob izuchenii dolgozhitel’stva v Azerbaidzhane” In V.I. Kozlov, ed., Dolgozhitel’stvo v Azerbaidzhane (Moscow: Nauka, 1989); Baron Kindarov, Dolgozhiteli Checheno-Ingushetii (Groznyi: El’brus, 1970);Mekhti Sultanov, Kabardino-Balkariia – krai dolgozhitelei (Nal’chik: Azerneshr, 1973); Grigorii Pitsekhelauri, Dolgozhiteli Gruzii. Znakom’tes’ s Sovetskoi Gruziei (Tbilisi: Khelovneba, 1978).

[10]Georgi Chuzischwili, Georgien lädt ein (Tbilisi: Sowjetgeorgien, 1977), 14–15; Sula Benet, “Why They Live to Be 100, Or Even Older, in Abkhasia,” The New York Times, December 26, 1971; Paula Garb, Where the Old are Young: Long Life in the Caucasus (Palo Alto: Ramparts Press, 1987); See also the US commercial for Dannon yogurt featuring Soviet Georgian supercentenarians, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9RJBgNB1ZI.

[11] Garb, Where the Old are Young, 9.

[12] Some Soviet and foreign scholars refute the validity of extreme longevity among Caucasian elderly, and no human in the world is documented to have passed the age of 122. Neil G. Bennett and Lea Keil Garson, “Extraordinary Longevity in the Soviet Union: Fact or Artifact?” The Gerontological Society of America 26, 4 (August 1986): 358-361; Lea Keil Garson, “The Centenarian Question: Old-Age Mortality in the Soviet Union, 1897 to 1970,” Population Studies 45, 2 (June 1991): 265-278;  V. I. Kozlov, “Etnograficheskii Podkhod k Izucheniiu Fenomena Dolgozhitel’stva,“ Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie 1 (1984); N.I. Grigulevich, “Problema Dolgozhitel’stva i Traditsii Vinopitiia v Abkhazii,” in N. A. Dubova, V. I. Kozlov, A. N. Iamskov, eds., Sovremennaia Sel’skaia Abkhazia: Sozialno-Etnograficheskie i Antropologicheskie Issledovaniia (Moscow: Izdanie Instituta Etnologii i Antropologii RAN, 2006), 131-132. Medical literature from 1920s and 1930s does not mention supercentenarians. I.L. Benkovich, ed., 13 Let Nauchnoi Meditsiny na Severnom Kavkaze. 1920-1933 (Rostov-na-Donu: Severnyi Kavkaz, 1934); François Robin-Champigneul, “Jeanne Calment’s Unique 122-Year Life Span: Facts and Factors; Longevity History in Her Genealogical Tree,” Rejuvenation Res 23, 1 (February 2020): 19-47.

[13] Zhores Medvedev, “Caucasus and Altay Longevity: A Biological or Social Problem?” The Gerontologist 14,15 (October 1974): 381-387. If early reports featured ancient Georgians, later ones more often incorporated “small” highlander and Muslim peoples of the Caucasus, such as Abkhazians, Chechens, Ingush, Talysh, Kabardian, Balkars, and Azerbaijanis, often groups traditionally perceived as dangerous or potentially disloyal.

[14] By the early 1980s, most Politburo members were over seventy years old. See Rudolf Pikhoia, Istoriia Gosudarstvennogo Upravlenia Rossii (Moscow: RAGS, 2003), 307.

[15] Bruce Grant, The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russian and the Caucasus (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), 2.

[16] Austin Jersild, Orientalism and Empire: North Caucasus Mountain Peoples and the Georgian Fronter, 1845-1917 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 2002), 4.

[17] Mikhail Lermontov, “The Cossack Lullaby,” http://pesni.voskres.ru/poems/lermo13.htm.

[18] Abkhazia in particular was the Bolsheviks’ favorite resting place. See Alex Marshall, The Caucasus Under Soviet Rule (New York: Routledge, 2010), 239; Garb, Where the Old are Young, 8.

[19] Anne E. Gorsuch, All This is Your World. Soviet Tourism at Home and Abroad after Stalin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 41.

[20] Most of these instructions were first spelled out by Aleksandr Bogomolets and recited gerontologists throughout the Soviet Union. See Bogomolets, Prodlenie Zhizni; see also Mikhailova-Lukasheva, Kogda Chelovek Stareet (Minsk: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk USSR, 1965); Susan Grant, “Age Matters: Health, Older People and Gerohygiene in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s,” draft article.

[22] Traditionalism was a central concept in Soviet “ethnographic” knowledge about the Caucasus. See Ia. V. Chesnov, “K Etnograficheskomu Izucheniiu Zhiznideiatel’nosti Cheloveka (na Primere Traditsionnoi Abkhazskoi Kul’tury),” Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie 3 (1987); Ia. S. Smirnova, “Roli I Statusy Starshshikh v Abkhazskoi Sem’e (k Probleme Gerontofil’nykh Faktorov Dolgozhitel’stva), Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie 2 (1982).

[23] Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, As the World Ages: Rethinking a Demographic Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 38-40.

[24] Zakharii Frenkel’, Udlinenie Zhizni I Deiatel’naia Starost’ (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Akademii meditsinskikh nauk, 1949); Stephen Lovell, “Soviet Socialism and the Construction of Old Age,” Jahrbuecher fuer Geschichte Osteuropas51, 4 (2003): 564-585; Alissa Klots and Maria Romashova, “Lenin’s Cohort: The First Mass Generation of Soviet Pensioners and Public Acitivism in the Khrushchev Era,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 19, 3 (Summer 2018): 573-597.

[25] “Novosti Dnia – Khronika Nashchikh Dnei” (1964), https://www.net-film.ru/film-11378/?search=listqшерали%20муслимов.

[28]This corresponded to an overarching Soviet gerontological narrative, which suggested that people had the chance to live healthy, long lives only under socialist rule. Danielle Leavitt-Quist, “‘A Long Life Will be the Soviet Victory’: The Turn to a Socialist Old Age and Development of Gerontology, 1928–1944,” draft paper.

[29]V gostiakh u stareischikh” (1946), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqXcMJwxtb0

[30] Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Helene Islowsky (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968), 9.

[31] Grant, The Captive and the Gift.

[32] In the prelude to a discussion of Caucasian longevity, the following documentary discusses the role of Russian engineers in ridding the region of malaria and enabling Abkhazian prosperity. “Sodruzhestvo ravnykh” (1981), https://www.net-film.ru/film-8547/?search=listqсодружество%20равных. See also Paula Michaelis, “The Doctor-Hero in Biomedical Propaganda,” Curative Powers. Medicine and Power in Stalin’s Central Asia (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), 59–64.

[33] Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge, 1992), 57.

[34] Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 84.

[35] Jersild, Orientalism and Empire, 6.

[36] Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 53.

[37] Jersild, Orientalism and Empire, 4.

[38] Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 53.

[39] Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper, Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 11.

[40] Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Itzkovitz, Ann Pellegrini, “Strange Bedfellows: An Introduction,” from Daniel Boyarin et al, eds., Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 2.

[41] “Kogda Prihodit Starost.”

[42] Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin Books, 2003), 3.

[43] Gorsuch, All This is Your World, 78.

[44] “Dolgozhiteli Checheno-Ingushetii” (1972), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4-quGBdTrc.

[45] Antonio Ferrara and Niccolo Pianciola, “The Dark Side of Connectedness: Forced Migrations and Mass Violence Between the Late Tsarist and Ottoman Empires (1853–1920), Historical Research 92, 257 (August 2019), 608-631; Jeronim Perović, “Highland Rebels: The North Caucasus during the Stalinist Collectivization campaign,” Journal of Contemporary History 51, 2 (2016): 234-260.

[46] Elena Arliapova and Elena Ponomareva, “Deportatsiia Chechentsev i Ingushei v Demograficheskom Izmerenii,” Voprosy Istorii, 11 (2020): 174-176.

[47] Pavel Polian, Against their Will. The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), 148.

[48] Campana Aurelie, “The Massive Deportation of the Chechen People: How and Why Chechens were deported,” Mass Violence and Resistance, https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/fr/document/massive-deportation-chechen-people-how-and-why-chechens-were-deported.html.

[49] “Dolgozhiteli Checheno-Ingushetii.”

[50] Elena Arliapova and Elena Ponomareva, “Deportatsiia Chechentsev,” 179.

[51] Jersild, Orientalism and Empire, 158.

[52] Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 13.