Affordable Access

Nationality and national identity in post-Soviet Kazakhstan

  • Buck, Katharina
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
OpenGrey Repository


This thesis explores the endeavours of the Republic of Kazakhstan la 'create Kazakhstanis.' It starts from the puzzle that the newly-independent, multiethnic country did not experience the kind of interethnic violence and disintegration that were expected during the 19905, although it has not developed an overarching, state-framed 'Kazakhstani' national identity that was deemed necessary by both the Kazakhstani government and the Western literature in order to bridge ethnic divisions, consolidate the polity and prevent disintegration. As Kazakhstan has not fulfilled the dire predict ions, this thesis looks at what has happened instead, asks what Kazakhstani nation-making has looked like, what it has sought to achieve and where it has failed. The two foci are therefore the politics and policies of official nation-making in Kazakhstan and the limitations and problems to these programmes. This analysis is important because it highlights the constraints and paradoxes of nation-making and demonstrates that states can sometimes be 'nationalising' in contradictory ways. The research puzzle is addressed through three main mechanisms. These are the history and historiography of Kazakhstan, the policies and rhetoric of its key political players, and the 'ethnic' grievances that have been expressed outside the ruling circles. The primary data analysed in this work has been generated during ethnographic fieldwork including overt participant observation, documentary research and qualitative elite interviews in seven different regions of Kazakhstan in 2009 and 2010. Overall, the thesis makes four arguments. First, national identity construction in Kazakhstan is a continuation of dialectical Soviet practices, resulting in two nations currently being constructed, an 'ethnic' and a 'civic ' one, of which the ethnic Kazakh is the stronger project. Second, this implies that the Kazakhs are constructed as the country's 'hosts' on whose 'hospitality' other, non-Kazakh Kazakhstanis depend. Third, a parallel, conspicuous celebration of the country's multiethnic character, officially designed to keep the country inter-ethnically 'harmonious,' breaks up the population into sub-state ethnic entities that are well manageable for the regime. Fourth, these combined tactics do not currently develop a new 'civic' Kazakhstani nation, but gradually erode a Soviet-inherited and even pre-Soviet-inherited cultural homogeneity and overarching collective identity. / EThOS - Electronic Theses Online Service / GB / United Kingdom

Report this publication


Seen <100 times