Explaining Kazakhstani Identity: Supraethnic Identity, Ethnicity, Language, and Citizenship
Nationalities Papers, April 2017, DOI: 10.1080/00905992.2017.1288204
42 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2016 Last revised: 13 Nov 2019
Date Written: September 14, 2016
The demographic composition of Kazakhstan after the fall of the Soviet Union presented a dilemma to the new Kazakhstani government: Should it advance a Kazakh identity as paramount, possibly alienating the large non-Kazakh population? Or should it advocate for a non-ethnicized national identity? How would those decisions be made in light of global norms of liberal multiculturalism? And, critically, would citizens respond to new frames of identity? This paper provides an empirical look at supraethnic identity building in Kazakhstan – that is, at the development of a national identity that individuals place above or alongside their ethnic identification. We closely examine the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan to describe how Kazakhstani policies intersect with theories of nationalism and nation-building. We then use ordered probit models to analyze data from a 2014 survey to examine how citizens of Kazakhstan associate with a “Kazakhstani” supraethnic identity. Our findings suggest that despite the Assembly of People’s rhetoric, there are still significant barriers to citizen-level adoption of a supraethnic identity in Kazakhstan, particularly regarding language. However, many individuals do claim an association with Kazakhstani identity, especially those individuals who strongly value citizenship in the abstract.
Keywords: Supraethnic identity, ethnicity, language, citizenship, Kazakhstan
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