with Sean Roberts, Associate Professor and Director, International Development Studies Program, GWU
With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Uyghurs of Kazakhstan, like many others in the former USSR, began to resurrect and re-invent traditional cultural practices that had been repressed during the Soviet period as either contrary to socialist atheism or as remnants of a “feudal past.” These traditions included daily practices and rituals based in local communities as well as the informal structure of neighborhood governance that regulates such practices. Since the 1990s, the importance of these neighborhood structures and practices to Uyghur daily life in Kazakhstan have gradually increased, and most recently the informal structure of neighborhood governance has even been scaled up to create a Republic-wide organization that represents Uyghur interests to the government of Kazakhstan. This lecture will discuss the evolution of local Uyghur neighborhoods in Kazakhstan over the last twenty years, focusing on these communities’ roles in both cultural resurrection and political mobilization.
Sean R. Roberts, PhD is a professor at the Elliott school and the Director of the International Development Studies program. He is a cultural anthropologist who has done extensive fieldwork among the Uyghur people of Central Asia and China, and worked for USAID in Central Asia on democracy programs. In 1996 he produced a documentary film on the Uyghur people titled, Waiting for Uighurstan.
A workshop held in conjunction with the exhibition “Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan” currently at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution until December 2, 2012.
Nomadism has been a key aspect of culture in the Eurasian space, especially on the Kazakh steppes, throughout the centuries. The Russian colonization and the Soviet Union drastically transformed the Kazakh society in the 19th and 20th century. Since independence in 1991, the legacy of nomadism has been rehabilitated by the political authorities in their nation building schemes.
The society has also participated in reconstructing symbols of the nomadic past: they have become objects of memory and research, but also objects of artistic inspiration, and commercial branding. This workshop invites a team of experts to discuss the contemporary use of the concept of nomadism from various angles.
with Richard Pomfret, Professor of Economics, University of Adelaide, Australia
Kazakhstan has used energy revenues to save for the future, invest in human capital, and diversify the structure of production with the goal of becoming one of the “fifty most competitive, dynamically developing countries in the world”. Agriculture has been a key part of the diversification strategy ever since the government committed a billion dollars to the 2003-5 Agriculture and Food Program. Since then agricultural policy has passed through several phases, mirroring evolving attitudes in Kazakhstan towards the role of government and of the market in economic development. This seminar analyses the content and consequences of agricultural policy, and agriculture’s role in Kazakhstan’s economic transformation.
Richard Pomfret, Professor of Economics at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and adviser to the Australian government and to international organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Discussion on Kazakh Cinema
Introduction: Peter Rollberg, Director, IERES, GWU
Kazakh Cinema in an Historical Perspective: from Perestroika to Post-Borat Time
Jean Radvanyi, Professor, National Institute for Oriental Languages and Cultures, Paris, France
Politics and Cinema: Divergence in Post-Soviet Central Asian Film
Michael Rouland, co-editor of Cinema in Central Asia: Rewriting Cultural Histories (I.B.Tauris, 2013)
Film Screening (7:00-8:30 pm)- Killer (1998), by Darezhan Omirbaev
Winner of the ‘Un Certain Regard Award’ at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan’s film industry has experienced major changes along with the rest of a Kazakh society. Through movies, Kazakh film-makers have been able to explore the new dimensions of their society and begin to create a new cultural history. This event will be a discussion on Kazakh cinema and its role in Kazakh society as it reexamines past events and their narratives. We will then be showing Killer, Darzehan Omirbaev’s award winning film.