Dr. Flora Roberts

Assistant Professor
Cultural History

I am currently revising a monograph provisionally titled Patricians of Leninobod: Lineage and Power in Soviet Central Asia.  Here, I focus on the hereditary socio-political elite of urban Central Asia, and analyze the reasons for their surprisingly successful adaptation to Soviet rule, which carries profound implications for the success and limits of state-run affirmative action programs. Even the radical Stalinist policies designed to discriminate against “class enemies” could not, within two or even three generations, overcome the competitive advantage enjoyed by Patricians over those regarded as their social inferiors. Similarly to what Bourdieu observed for France, Soviet affirmative action policies relied on free public education to act as a leveling force, but this would often prove no match for the social and cultural capital built up over many generations by Patrician families. 

I belong to the international research group RedGold Legend, directed by Marie-Paul Hille and Stephane Dudoignon at the EHESS in Paris, and funded by the French National Research Council until 2025. For this project, I am contributing a study of how Muslim sainthood is expressed through miraculous interactions with nature, pertaining in particular to trees and water. The RedGold Legend project will fund my next fieldwork trip to Central Asia, in June 2023.