Transgressive Sanctity: The Abrek in Chechen Culture

Rebecca Gould
Yale-NUS College
March 29, 2010

Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 271-306, Spring 2007


The ancient tradition of the abrek (bandit) was developed into a political institution during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century by Chechen and other Muslim peoples of the Caucasus as a strategy for dealing with the overwhelming military force of Russia’s imperial army. During the Soviet period, the abrek became a locus for oppositional politics and arguably influenced the representations of violence and anti-colonial resistance during the recent Chechen Wars (1994-indefinite). This article is one of the first works of English-language scholarship to historicize this institution.

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