Circassia, by Rieks Smeets (1995)

Smeets, Rieks (1995) 'Circassia', Central Asian Survey, 14: 1, 107 — 125

Paper prepared for the conference 'The contemporary North Caucasus', held at SOAS on 22-23 April 1993.

After a short introduction of Circassians, their language, their neighbours, and their early history, this article describes slightly more in detail the fate of Circassians and their territories since 1917 against the background of Soviet policy in the Northern Caucasus as a whole. Some remarks on the present-day situation and prospects conclude the article.

Actually, there is no such place as Circassia; and a single Circassian state unitingall Circassians has never existed in known history.

There are various senses in which the term Circassian is used. The least ambiguous one is linguistic: Circassians are people who belong to groups which have Circassian as their first or—nowadays, in many cases—as a second language.

Today, more than half a million Circassians live scattered across the Northern Caucasus, and an indeterminate number live scattered throughout Anatolia. Smaller numbers are found in Syria and Jordan and very small numbers in Israel, and in the former Yugoslavia. There is a colony of emigrants from the Caucasus in Paterson, New Jersey, and Circassian emigrants from Turkey can be found in many countries of Western Europe.

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