Bodily Autonomy of a Veiled Women

In the end Iasevich defined the Uzbek woman through the dual languages of statistics and sexuality. His results, published in 1928, included painstakingly detailed tables giving the statistical distributions of the measurements and descriptions of every conceivable body part-from spine curvature to skin tone to breast size-within the Uzbek female population of Khorazm. These distributions were compared with those of Russian, German, American, Jewish, and Norwegian women to demarcate the national differences more clearly.

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In the first Chapter of Veiled Empire, we are repeatedly supplied examples of how Uzbek women were surveyed and measured as part of Soviet nationalization policy. I found these “scientific” accounts of national identification particularly uncomfortable and invasive. I would like to us to think about the quote above and how this “method” (emphasis on scare quotes) is designed colonizing, patriarchal frame of reference. What are we supposed to make of this historical record? Do you think nationalization classification would have ever looked like this in the Kresy? Did we see these types of measurements on the other side of the empire?

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