A critique of French and British power
If Bukhara still feels like a setting out of A Thousand and One Nights, it is because it has fallen under Russian, not English or French control.
The best thing about Bukhara, writes Ross, is the fact that one doesn’t see “any people in European clothing, only natives in the brightest, most colorful traditional garb” (260). In Ross’s opinion, this is the most exotic town he travels to in Central Asia, because it is the least affected by European influence. “There is one place that is so untouched, so original, that one expects to encounter around every corner Sinbad or Ali Baba, or any of the other well-known characters from the stories of Scheherazade” (260). Ross attributes this authenticity to the Soviets, who have allowed regions under their control to maintain their native cultures, in contrast to the colonial practices of the British and the French.
Ross doesn’t interpret this authenticity as a sign that the Soviets are better colonizers per se (indeed, he doesn’t use this term to describe the Soviet Union’s relationship with its satellites). Instead, he sees it as evidence of Moscow’s strategic plan towards continental leadership.
Colin Ross. Ein Traum aus Tausendundeiner Nacht. In: Der Weg nach Osten: Reise durch Rußland, Ukraine, Transkaukasien, Persien, Buchara und Turkestan. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus; 1923; 260-264.