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Kazakh Nomads and the New Soviet State, 1919-1934

Thomas, Alun (2015) Kazakh Nomads and the New Soviet State, 1919-1934. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Of all the Tsar’s former subjects, the Kazakh nomad made perhaps the most unlikely communist. Following the Russian Civil War and the consolidation of Soviet power, a majority of Kazakhs still practised some form of nomadic custom, including seasonal migration and animal husbandry. For the Communist Party, this population posed both conceptual and administrative challenges. Taking guidance from an ideology more commonly associated with the industrial landscapes of Western Europe than the expanse of the Kazakh Steppe, the new Soviet state sought nevertheless to understand and administer its nomadic citizens. How was nomadism conceptualised by the state? What objectives did the state set itself with regards to nomads, and how successfully were these objectives achieved? What confounded the state’s efforts? Using a range of archival documentation produced by Party and state, scholarly publications, newspapers and memoir, this thesis assesses the Soviet state’s relationship with Kazakh nomads from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the collectivisation drive. It argues that any consensus about the proper government of nomadic regions emerged slowly, and analyses the effect on nomads of disparate policies concerning land-ownership, border-control, taxation, and social policies including sanitation and education. The thesis asserts that the political factor which most often complicated the state’s treatment of nomads was the various concessions made by the Bolsheviks to non-Russian national identity. Meanwhile the state also made some concerted efforts to adapt itself to the nomadic lifestyle of the Kazakh population. The thesis concludes with a summary of the sedentarisation campaign 1928-1934, in which nomadic communities were collectivised and brutally forced to settle. But the thesis’ central focus is on the years preceding sedentarisation, which have received comparably less attention in the historiography and, the thesis argues, represent a distinctive period for the state’s treatment of Kazakh nomads.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Russian and Slavonic Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.657015
Depositing User: Dr Alun Thomas
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2015 13:13
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9417

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