Publication date:

21 November 2016

Length of book:

304 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9781498525473

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.
This book fills a gap in the literature by providing a scholarly depth in tandem with a multidisciplinary outlook on Kazakhstani politics that accounts for important socio-political drivers, while looking beyond the country’s resource bounty that preoccupies many studies on Kazakhstan. As editor, Marlene Laruelle has succeeded in bringing together a strong cast of contributors, including well-established and talented emerging scholars from both Kazakhstan and the wider world. A range of audiences will be well served by this book: on the one hand, it provides those new to the study of Kazakhstan with a clear introduction to the central themes and issues animating contemporary Kazakhstan political life; on the other hand, those more familiar with the country and its people will also find the empirical detail insightful.... Although the volume brings together contributions on a wider range of topics and employing diverse methodological approaches, it retains an admirable degree of coherence as all chapters work to address core issues salient to understanding the political dynamics of today’s Kazakhstan.... Readers will get a taste of the diverse dynamics of Kazakhstan’s contemporary development, and some satisfyingly detailed insights into facets of this geopolitically significant but as yet under-researched state.