Dissertation Abstracts

Building the Kazakh nation: an exploration of the discourse of nation building in Kazakhstan

Author: Diana S Kopbayeva, diana-kopbaeva@mail.ru
Department: Sociology
University: Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Anselma Gallinat & Nick Megoran
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: nation building , discourse , Kazakhstan
Areas of Research: Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations , Political Sociology , Social Transformations and Sociology of Development


My research examines the character of the official discourse of nation in Kazakhstan. Specifically, the current research aims at identifying new policies of nation-building in Kazakhstan considering the latest political, social and economic changes within the state, as well in the region. Due to the broad scale of the subject I focus on three major case studies and several smaller sub-cases related to my research. Firstly, I examine the concept of Eurasianism as a specific discourse, which principally reflects his volatile and dual character of Kazakhstani nation-building and concerns the co-existence of both civic and ethnic types of nationalism in the official discourse of nation. More specifically I examine how Eurasianism has been constantly shifting from a civic idea of Eurasian-Kazakhstani nation to a more ethnic idea of a Eurasian-Kazakh nation. Secondly, I explore the vast program towards rediscovery of history of the Kazakhs that has been undertaken by the government in 2013 within the program ‘People in the flow of history’ and that is directed at re-statement/statement of the past of the Kazakh nation. Within this case, I have discovered that ‘the Eternal nation’ (Kazakh: Mangilik El) based on the principle of linking past, present and future through a revival of the early periods of national history that then project a multi-ethnic state with the titular Kazakh nation, is combines and completes all recent efforts at nation-building and history writing. I also examine history writing as the major aspect of imagining the Kazakh nation at present (Anderson, 1991). The research also concerns the increased interest in using the concept of a ‘genealogical knowledge’ (Shezhire) of Kazakhs in the official discourse. Such shift in Kazakhstan’s image would legitimize the present Kazakh statehood and create an impression of a Eurasian state in the eyes of the Kazakhstani nationals, as well as advanc! e Kazakh stan’s representation in the world. Thus, the key argument of my research is that the official discourse of nation in Kazakhstan draws on representations of a new sovereign, multi-ethnic civic nation of Kazakhstan that will be built on idea of the Kazakhs as ethnic core and Kazakh culture as dominant. Current message is: building a civic nation through establishing a strong ethnic fundament first.