«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»

Speech of the leading research fellow of French National Center for Scientific Research Dr. Isabelle Ohayon


(from COLLECTION OF MATERIALS of International scientific conference «GREAT FAMINE IN KAZAKHSTAN: TRAGEDY OF THE NATION AND THE LESSONS OF HISTORY») published in Astana, 2012

This paper poses the following questions: in what extend the sedentarization of the Kazakhs can be considered as the result of a political program or the result of starvation. What role did the famine play in the evolution of the Kazakh society? How can be characterized the settlement policy pursued by Soviet authorities in the context of collectivization and hunger?

The settlement policy will be examined, first, as an ideological and modernizing project, which suggests that nomadic pastoralism is an inferior stage of social evolution and seeks to replace it with a «stable and rational» way of agricultural production. Second, the collectivization and famine will be analyzed as major factors of sedentarization and possibly as a practical tool to settle nomadic households in kolkhoz.

The Main Research Assistant of

French National Centre

for Scientific Research (CNRS)


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