The “Laboratory of Peoples’ Friendship”: Identity Formation and Interest Representation among National Minorities in Kazakhstan

Project Coordinator: Dr. Beate Eschment

The Republic of Kazakhstan is a multiethnic state. Although large numbers of non-Kazakhs have left the country in the past 25 years, minority nationalities – of which there are more than 100 – still make up around 30 per cent of the population, coexisting peacefully despite the occasional localised conflicts that arise in daily life. 

Since 1991, research has focused almost entirely on the situation of the country’s two largest nationalities, i.e. the Kazakhs and the Russians, with “Kazakhisation” increasingly becoming the keyword. However, very little research has been done on the fine detail of the government’s official nationalities policy, how it has impacted on the situation of the many other stakeholders, and how it is viewed by these stakeholders. What’s more, very little is known about the highly diverse starting points and development of many of Kazakhstan’s minority nationalities. In her project, Beate Eschment investigates the role played by national interest representation and the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (Assambleya Naroda Kazakhstana – ANK) in achieving peaceful interethnic relations and serving as a focal point for identity formation. The project applies a combination of methods, particularly including interviews with experts and representatives of various nationalities, discourse analysis of publications and speeches, and participatory observation at the local level.

The project’s objective is to foster an understanding of official nationalities policy, to shed light on the current status of selected minority nationalities, and to make a well-founded assessment of the prospects for continued interethnic stability in Kazakhstan.