Digital Theses Archive


Tesi etd-12202016-230156

Type of thesis
Scientific disciplinary sector
SCIENZE POLITICHE - Politics, Human Rights and Sustainability
Presidente Prof.ssa LORETONI, ANNA
Membro Prof.ssa DUNDOVICH, ELENA
Membro Dott.ssa GIUSTI, SERENA
  • Language decline and loss
  • Language policy
  • Nationalizing states
  • Post-Soviet Kazakhstan
Exam session start date
‘How can political stability be secured in a non-democratic, multi-ethnic state in which power is monopolized by a particular ethnic group? If minorities residing in a host states have ethnic kin states abroad, do these international ethnic links pose a threat to the security and territorial integrity of the host state?’ <br><br>Above cited are two main questions addressed by Natsuko Oka in her work ‘Managing Ethnicity under Authoritarian Rule: Trans-border Nationalisms in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan&#39;. These questions are becoming more salient for Kazakhstan in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which initially revolved around, among other reasons, language issue. Recently made statements by well known Russian politicians Vladimir Zhirinovskiy and Pavel Shperov about Russians dominated regions of Kazakhstan as a next target of Russia’s expansion fueled the speculations around the possibility of Crimean scenario’s repetition in Northern and North-East Kazakhstan.<br> Since Independence, the language issue in Kazakhstan has become highly politicized, primarily because of the &#39;status reversal&#39; of languages, which implied the shift in symbolic power of one language over another and more broadly, of one ethnic group over another. These changes were taking place within a wider process of nation-building, in which the Kazakh government had to tackle a number of compound issues. On the one hand, the newly independent state sought for ways to establish itself as a nation-state, reasserting its culture and language (Kazakh culture and language), the latter of which was oppressed during the period or Russia’s domination. To this end, series of measures often referred to as ‘kazakhisation’ policy were undertaken including among other things the languages status reversal, vast changes in the linguistic landscape of the state in favor of Kazakh language and so-called ‘ethno-cultural gerrymandering’. On the other hand, Kazakhstan inherited very diverse multiethnic and multilingual population as well as the requisite for maintaining the loyalty of Russians and other ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan and good relations with Russia, which in turn, have pushed the government to pursue a civic nation-building and bilingual ideology. <br>Similarly, Kazakhstani language policy can also be characterized as ambiguous, as to date, it employs both the ideology of monolingualism, by privileging titular language and seeking its promotion in state-regulated domains on the one hand, and the ideology of multilingualism, by positively supporting, protecting Russian, and other languages on the other hand. This somewhat ambiguous nation-building and language policies makes Russophones (Russians, Russian-speaking Kazakhs, and other ethnicities) feel insecure, for they believe the expansion of Kazakh language will reduce the currency of Russian language in the country. Fear of coercive assimilation, exclusion and insecurity about the future of their language can potentially constitute a source of conflict. This thesis argues for more sustainable solutions to language issues in the country, through framing the need for Kazakh language promotion within the cultural heritage model (as opposed to nationalizing state framework)being it based on the proposition that endangered languages have to be given the priority in order to preserve linguistic and cultural diversity. This would better serve the twofold purpose of promoting Kazakh language and ensuring social cohesion and interethnic stability.<br><br><br>