This essay traces the legacy of the 1926 Baku Turcological Congress for postcolonial studies and comparative literary criticism. An assembly of 131 delegates, including such prominent figures as the Crimean Tatar Turcologist Bekir Sıdkı Çobanzade, the Kazak revolutionary, linguist, and reformer Ahmed Baytursun, the German Turcologist Theodor Menzel, and Vasilii Bartol’d, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the congress was convened in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the discussion of writing systems and orthographic and lexical questions, as well as the classificatory question of the kinship of Turkic languages. It is perhaps best remembered for the resolution to adopt the Latin alphabet, defended ardently by the congress’s Azerbaijani organizer and president, Samedağa Ağamalıoğlu, who followed Lenin in his belief that Latinization promised “revolution in the East.” A reading of the addresses delivered by Ağamalıoğlu suggests that the Turcological Congress has left us a unique archive of the contradictions inherent in Leninist communist philology and the anticolonial language politics of the early twentieth century.

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