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Kazakhstan in the Making

Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes

Edited by Marlene Laruelle - Contributions by Ulan Bigozhin; Alima Bissenova; Douglas Blum; Alexander C. Diener; Natalie Koch; Diana T. Kudaibergenova; Marlene Laruelle; Mateusz Laszczkowski; Sebastien Peyrouse; Megan Rancier; Assel Tutumlu; Wendell Schwab and Kristopher White

Kazakhstan is one of the best-known success stories of Central Asia, perhaps even of the entire Eurasian space. It boasts a fast growing economy—at least until the 2014 crisis—a strategic location between Russia, China, and the rest of Central Asia, and a regime with far-reaching branding strategies. But the country also faces weak institutionalization, patronage, authoritarianism, and regional gaps in socioeconomic standards that challenge the stability and prosperity narrative advanced by the aging President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This policy-oriented analysis does not tell us a lot about the Kazakhstani society itself and its transformations.

This edited volume returns Kazakhstan to the scholarly spotlight, offering new, multidisciplinary insights into the country’s recent evolution, drawing from political science, anthropology, and sociology. It looks at the regime’s sophisticated legitimacy mechanisms and ongoing quest for popular support. It analyzes the country’s fast changing national identity and the delicate balance between the Kazakh majority and the Russian-speaking minorities. It explores how the society negotiates deep social transformations and generates new hybrid, local and global, cultural references.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 304Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-2547-3 • Hardback • November 2016 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4985-2548-0 • eBook • November 2016 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
Marlene Laruelle is research professor, director of the Central Asia Program, and associate director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the Elliott School of International Affairs of George Washington University.
Introduction, Marlene Laruelle

Part I: The State: Ruling Mechanisms and Symbols
Chapter 1: The Rule by Law: Negotiating Stability in Kazakhstan, Assel Tutumlu
Chapter 2: The Kazakh Neopatrimonial Regime: Balancing Uncertainties among the Family, Oligarchs, and Technocrats, Sebastien Peyrouse
Chapter 3: Shrek Meets the President: Magical Authoritarianism in a Fairy-Tale City, Mateusz Laszczkowski
Chapter 4: Shrine and Neopatrimonialism in southern Kazakhstan, Wendell Schwab and Ulan Bigozhin

Part II: The Nation: Conflicting Legitimacies and Repertoires
Chapter 5: Nationalizing Elites and Regimes: Nation-building in Post-Soviet Authoritarian and Democratic Contexts, Diana T. Kudaibergenova
Chapter 6: Imagining Kazakhstani-stan: Negotiations of Homeland and Titular-Nationality, Alexander C. Diener
Chapter 7: Which Future for National-Patriots?: The Landscape of Kazakh Nationalism, Marlene Laruelle
Chapter 8: Cowboys, Gangsters, and Rural Bumpkins: Constructing the “Other” in Kazakhstan’s “Texas,” Natalie R. Koch and Kristopher White

Part III: The Society: Negotiating Cultural Changes
Chapter 9: Islam in Good Taste: About Suitable Forms of Public Religiosity, Alima Bissenova
Chapter 10: The “Spirit of Tengri’: Spirituality, Nationalism, and Emerging Trends in Kazakh Ethno-Pop, Megan Rancier
Chapter 11: Return Migration from the United States: Exploring the Dynamics of Cultural Change in Kazakhstan, Douglas Blum
Marlene Laruelle has assembled a notable set of scholars to dig deep into the well of the multi-voiced and contentious process of post-Soviet nation-making in Kazakhstan. This volume traverses a journey across the vast Kazakh steppe and provides new interpretive frames to understand the complex and diverse set of phenomena associated with the development of the state, nation, and society of Kazakhstan. From accounts of neopatrimonial relations to the symbolic power of the fairy tale city of Astana and the role of ethno-pop in promoting traditional Kazakh values in an interconnected and globalized world, the contributors demonstrate an impressive command of the subject and draw on an extensive range of original empirical material. These essays will pique the interest of readers wanting to understand the politics and society of contemporary Kazakhstan, but also those with a broader fascination with the process of state and nation-building in the Eurasian region and beyond.
Rico Isaacs, Oxford Brookes University

Large, varied, and rapidly changing, Kazakhstan can sometimes seem inscrutable. In fact, all we need to understand this country of great cultural, economic, and political importance is the excellent research conducted by scholars at the top of their respective fields. Kazakhstan in the Making is the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and welcome addition to the literature we have seen in many years.
Edward Schatz, University of Toronto