She argues that the Soviet system there was based on a network of individuals, whose loyalty to communism was monitored through a chain of command that stretched from Moscow via Tashkent to Dushanbe/ Stalinabad
. By personalizing its rule, the Stalinist regime was able to bypass local networks and implement its decisions despite the geographic and cultural distance from the center (hence the books title "despite cultures").
Similarly, a series of SIB shots of young Tajik women in Stalinabad emphasized their cultural accomplishments within Soviet Tajik institutions.
Imprinting Central Asian places into a Soviet visual order mattered just as much as documenting progress on the "women question." Earlier photodocumentary projects like SSSR na stroike had stressed the orderliness of newly constructed cities like Stalinabad (so named until 1961, when it became Dushanbe), whose whitewashed dormitories and straight paved streets contrasted with the "clay huts with mud reeds" and the "narrow obscure streets" of the small hamlet that sat at the confluence of two rivers until Soviet modernization arrived.
In contrast to the confident Tajik women who claim the Soviet national spaces of Stalinabad for themselves, Central Asians in Moscow are reframed as objects for twice-removed European consumption: once in Soviet locations like the hippodrome, then again by international audiences through the frame of SIB's photographs.