If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

National Identity issues in Kazakhstan

National Identity issues in Kazakhstan - e-history.kz
The national identity of any national community is determined by a variety of factors, including historical, political, cultural, linguistic, territorial, civilizational and other.

The issue of identification and self-identification of its representatives is complex and relevant in the development of society. Because it means how much a person identifies himself or not identifies with society. This is a sense of belonging, identifying an individual with someone or something, helping him successfully assimilate his norms and values, transferring the qualities and characteristics of his external environment to the individual. Identity serves as the basis for the imitation process, so to say not violent, but free choice of those qualities, skills and values ​​that he would like to possess. It is well known that each person belongs to a particular ethnic group. Ethnic identity serves as the cultural basis of ethnopolitical mobilization, which should be considered as the willingness of people united on an ethnic basis to group actions for the realization of ethnic interests.

Identity is formed on the basis of the corresponding national paradigm, at the intersection of the national-historical, socio-psychological, social, cultural, political, cultural and other spheres. Its content includes the established features of the national culture, ethnic characteristics, customs, beliefs, myths, moral imperatives, etc. It is closely connected with the concept of national character. Here we are talking about people's ideas about themselves, about their place in the world. National identity integrates internal and external components. It is especially important for her to match the external and internal, the form and content, manifestation and essence. The inner sense of identity implies the essential identity, affinity, common ground, a single beginning. Ethnic identity is a conscious act of ethnic self-determination of a person, attributing oneself to a certain ethnic community. It is also important that national identity is a condition for the internal integration of any society. National identity is the backbone of the national state, its hallmark among others. 

The issues of state, national or civic identity, and its preservation and further development without destroying its integrity is one of the main issues, the analysis of which is necessary for developing the most effective entry of Kazakhstan into the world community and the challenges of globalization.

National identity has many different aspects - political, state-legal, socio-economic, ideological, ideological, cultural-civilizational, historical, etc. where you can and need to find a place for philosophy. It, this identity, implies the Kazakhstan content itself, based on the history and culture of the Kazakh people, on its inalienable rights to create a national, Kazakh proper in essence and in content, statehood, with its consequences. There is nothing nationalistic in the negative sense of this usage in this statement. Moreover, it only expresses the real state of things, i.e. due, natural.

Apparently, national identity is well traced in difficult times for an ethnos, where an impetus is given to finding reasons and ways to strengthen or restore national identity, to find what unites us, to formulate the values ​​for which it is worth living or dying. Obviously, national identity is a breeding ground that forms the consciousness of the people, while the awareness of each people’s identity is impossible without and regardless of its own history, its heroic or tragic events, based on the past experience and the interests of the future. Ethnicity remains the dominant form of social categorization in the structure of the individual and group identity of the population of Kazakhstan. In general, based on the respondents interviewed, ethnicity is still almost the only dominant in the identity structure of the overwhelming majority in relation to civic identity.

As the practice of national construction shows, in various states different approaches exist resolving this contradiction. In the development of a nationwide idea of ​​Kazakhstan, it is necessary to use both concepts of the nation - civil and ethnocultural, and not rely only on one of them, discarding the other. Smith calls this way of building a nation one of the most common in the world - the model of the dominant ethnic group. Nevertheless, let us return to the influence of globalization on national identity, which is the subject of research interest. Today’s globalization and transformation processes observed in the world violate traditional forms of identity, question the subjective feelings of self-identity of people and ethnic groups, formed in the framework of previous traditions. A number of globalization processes directly affect the worsening identity crisis.

These processes that includes democratization, economization, informatization, cultural standardization, value universalization, amongst many others inevitably run into national identity as an obstacle to their natural development, as the central core storing the millennia most established, sometimes accumulating, communities about themselves. At the same time, diverse conflicts develop, the outcome of which depends on the strength or friability of existing national identities, their uncompromising and toughness, immunity to the new, or, on the contrary, their flexibility, ability to adaptive change, renewal without loss of cultural identification cores. Globalization, which seeks to grind national identity, to dissolve it in global processes, is thus a kind of qualifying tournament for such cores.

The state ethnopolitics of the modern history of Kazakhstan reflects the transformation processes of the international community and the challenges of globalization. The practice of state-owned nation-building and the formation of a Kazakhstani identity model went through a stage of broad discussions, of which multiculturalism issues were part. The positions and discussions of Kazakhstan experts lined up in the context of changes in international approaches to politics and principles of multiculturalism.

The subject of this study is the Kazakhstan model of interethnic integration and the peculiarities of state nation-building in Kazakhstan. After Kazakhstan gained its sovereignty and independence, the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of Kazakhstan’s society was regarded by the expert international community as risks and sources of potential conflicts. However, a deliberate policy in the sphere of interethnic relations, developed over a quarter of a century, allowed the authorities of Kazakhstan to maintain political stability and the spirit of unity in a multinational Kazakhstan society.

Modern Kazakhstan is an example of a multi-ethnic society with a diversity of cultures, religions and languages, so the preservation of civil peace and inter-ethnic harmony is the leading government policy. Every year, Kazakhstanis celebrate a state holiday filled with a special meaning, the Day of Unity of the People of Kazakhstan. Purposeful state policy contributed to the creation of a special Kazakhstan model of interethnic integration and civic harmony, which political scientists often call a unique platform for intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Over the years of independence, Kazakhstan has developed the foundations of legislative and normative regulation of interethnic and interfaith relations, which form the necessary conditions for achieving internal political stability and civil harmony in a multi-ethnic society.

When addressing the issues of nation-building in Kazakhstan, it turns out that there is no definite, common to all its people answer to it. One part of the citizens of Kazakhstan say that they are Kazakhs, while the other part of citizens does not want to recognize themselves as a titular nation and offers another answer saying that they are Kazakhstanis. It turns out that today in Kazakhstan there are two national identities, depending on how different parts of the society answer the question of who we are. One of these identities can be defined as Kazakh, since it is based on the definition of we are titular nation. Another identity can be defined as Kazakhstan, since it is based on the formula of civic identity

The ethnic identity in Kazakhstan refers to the indigenous population of Kazakhstan and carry, above all, an ethnocultural, ethno-national meaning. The civic identity of Kazakhstanis from the Soviet time express the territorial aspect, have administrative, political and ideological tone. The civic term referred to the Kazakh SSR and everything related to it. Similarly, this term now refers to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

For example, since the Soviet time the perception that Kazakh people breed of horses has born ethnocultural content, since it refers to the Kazakhs as the indigenous population of Kazakhstan, from ancient times leading a nomadic lifestyle, engaged in breeding horses and, accordingly, breeding their new breeds. At the same time, the term “Kazakhstan wheat varieties” has obvious non-ethnic, territorial significance. This refers to wheat varieties bred on the territory of Kazakhstan, but not Kazakhs, who, as cattle breeders, were not engaged in farming. It is also borne in mind that the grain industry began to develop in Kazakhstan as a result of the development of virgin lands. This campaign was carried out under the leadership of the Communist Party, which mobilized representatives of Slavic peoples from the European part of the USSR for this. From this it is clear that the word "Kazakhstan" carried in itself, among other things, a political and ideological content.

The territorial, administrative, political and ideological content is also present in the civic term, which was introduced to refer to the total population of the Soviet Kazakhstan, which includes representatives of all nationalities of Kazakhstan. Due to historical continuity, this term is widely used in modern, sovereign, Kazakhstan in the same collective meaning, although its content has undergone a certain transformation, as will be discussed below. Historically, the right to speak on behalf of all nationalities of the country, from all of Kazakhstan’s society as a whole, can only be the civic terms. The ethnic terms cannot replace this, as they relate only to a part, and not to the entire population of the country. This opinion is firmly established in the public consciousness of Kazakhstan.

It is interesting that, in fact, the civic understanding, as well as the ethnic terms, are loaded with quite a certain ethnic meaning. The name of our Kazakhstan itself means the land of the Kazakhs or the country of the Kazakhs. Therefore, both the ethnic and civic terms are completely equivalent in their logical content. However, the political, social and national practice of the Soviet, and then the post-Soviet society contributed to the fact that the word "Kazakhstan" in its real use largely lost its original meaning "the country of the Kazakhs". The same thing happened with the word "Kazakh", which from a certain period ceased to apply to all of Kazakhstan in all its socio-political meanings including territorial, administrative, state, national and others, remaining only in the above-mentioned particular ethnocultural use. The universal use in these spheres of social life of Kazakhstan was acquired by artificial constructions.

Ethnic identity and mobilization at that time contributed to the growth of the national identity of the Kazakh people. The growth of national identity, in turn, contributed to the growth of the Kazakh self-esteem, thanks to which the Kazakh identity sought to assert itself in a new capacity and leave the subordinate position in relation to Kazakhstan's identity. Kazakh identity more and more began to acquire its own significance and value. In other words, the Kazakh identity was increasingly transformed from ethnocultural identity into a national, or, more precisely, ethnonational identity.

At the same time, the transformation of the identity concepts took place. The civic concept of “ has survived in the post-Soviet period and even retained, as mentioned above, its collective meaning. However, now this concept means not a part of the Soviet people, but the totality of all citizens of Kazakhstan regardless of their ethnicity. Kazakhstan's identity is no longer a Soviet identity, but refers exclusively to Kazakhstan, which is now in its status not a union republic, but a nation state. Back in Soviet times, Kazakhstan's identity was not a national identity in its civilian sense, since then Kazakhstan did not have its own citizenship. Citizenship at that time was common for all Soviet people, so the Soviet identity really was by its status a national identity in a civilian sense. As for the Kazakhstan identity, by its real position it had a certain intermediate character, being a kind of republican identity. The Union Republic was in accordance with the Soviet national-state system a nominal but not real state, which did not have such an important attribute as its own citizenship.

At present, Kazakhstan's identity as the identity of all citizens of Kazakhstan with its national state is, by its formal legal status, a national identity. When entering into other states, we, citizens of our country of all nationalities, filling out customs and other declarations, indicate the country in the paragraph about our nationality, which indicates our national identity. However, in the state of Kazakhstan nationalizing in its actual position, the status of national identity, in addition to Kazakhstan’s, also claims Kazakh identity.

We can come from here to the conclusion that between the two identities - there is a competition for the status of the national identity of the country. This kind of competition arose immediately after Kazakhstan gained sovereignty 27 years ago. The competition of Kazakh and Kazakhstan identities is expressed through the attempts and claims of each of them to assert their right to represent Kazakhstan alone as a national state and determine its internal and foreign policy. We are talking about the attempts and claims of each of the identities to determine, ultimately, the fate of Kazakhstan. Perhaps, those who act on behalf of the Kazakh identity look more active and initiative in their claims to the status of national identity of Kazakhstan. There was a transformation of the Kazakh ethnocultural identity of the Soviet society into the ethno-national identity of post-Soviet Kazakhstan. This change in the content of their identity allowed the Kazakhs to make the transition from the semi-peripheral position of the society to its center, at least to declare their claims to the central position in Kazakhstani society.

The significance of the Kazakhstaniw approach towards the development of ethnopolitics, as well as the successes achieved on this path have been noted by a broad range of scientists. The Kazakhstan model has the main advantage - it systematically approaches the formation of mechanisms for the formation of interethnic concord. Analyzing the Kazakhstan model of interethnic and interfaith harmony, the Russian expert noted the advantage of the Kazakhstan experience, which provides additional support in the policy of maintaining social stability - tested tools and mechanisms through which this policy is implemented. In his opinion, Kazakhstan’s experience is not well known in Russia, otherwise the Russian press would not have encountered such statements that the Assembly of the Peoples of Russia is the same as the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan. The main difference, in the opinion of the independent publicist, is that the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan has a guaranteed representation in the lower house of parliament, while in Russia much is reduced to purely advisory functions, and the Assembly’s apparatus and its local structure have no real powers, except monitoring functions.

In Kazakhstan, both the approach leading to ethnic isolationism, which is dangerous by the development of separatist tendencies, and the “policy of ethnic assimilation” leading to the development of conflict potential are equally rejected. Kazakhstan is characterized by the practice of inter-ethnic integration, aimed at uniting ethnic groups with the consolidating role of the Kazakh people, but at the same time preserving the cultural characteristics inherent in one or another ethnic group. The researcher comes to the conclusion that in Kazakhstan they rely on the “concept of ethnic diversity” based on two key elements - a thoughtful and well-developed legal framework of ethnopolitics, and state (and semi-state) institutions governing the sphere of interethnic relations, among which the author highlights Of Kazakhstan.

Despite the support of the ideas of multiculturalism in the Kazakhstan expert mainstream, among the supporters of the national-patriotic point of view, the attitude towards it is more than skeptical. Some authors see it as a threat to the program of promoting Kazakh culture and language; others see potential danger in spreading high expectations among national minorities regarding their languages ​​and status. Our pseudo-patriotic and over-multiculturalist power elite considers it necessary to postpone the development of the state language, its fundamental reform and modernization, including the introduction of the Latin script, for the longest possible perspective.

One of the main and well-known approaches of the Kazakhstani leadership has been the policy of repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs that are spread out all around the world. In the early 1990s, the repatriation of the Kazakhs to their historic homeland was declared one of the priorities of the migration policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Specially developed program of resettlement of repatriates, introduced a quota system. Repatriates are known as oralmans. Since 2008, the program of resettlement of ethnic Kazakhs has been carried out under the program entitled Nurly kosh. The peak of repatriation came in the mid-1990s. From the day of independence, about a million ethnic Kazakhs have migrated to Kazakhstan. Relocate from countries near and far abroad. Countries such as Russia, Mongolia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others are the countries of origin of repatriate Kazakhs. The purpose of the article is to examine the reasons for the repatriation of the Kazakhs to their historic homeland. A scientific approach involves studying the issue from a theoretical point of view. Two paradigms of the theory of international relations are applied: liberalism and constructivism. After Kazakhstan gained its independence, almost simultaneously with this event, a program was announced on the resettlement of ethnic Kazakhs living abroad to their historic homeland.

The countries that were once part of the socialist bloc gain independence and are included in the processes of building nation states and globalization. Liberalization at that time meant freedom from the old rules and regulations, for people all restrictions imposed during the Soviet period of power were lifted. One of the main events was the unimpeded movement of people, not only within the country, but also free travel abroad. It was during this period that mass emigration of the population from Kazakhstan, mainly representatives of Russian, German and other ethnic groups, took place. Liberalization gave people the opportunity not only to leave the country, but also to enter. We are aware of such a phenomenon when people leave rural areas for large cities, from less developed countries to more developed countries. Based on the paradigm of the theory of liberalism, scientists view migration as a rational choice of people based on the search for better living conditions. We have mentioned above the process of globalization, in which the countries that gained independence have become involved. This process is usually referred to as the neoliberal paradigm of international relations, but in this case, I think, this will allow a clearer understanding of the subject being studied, because neoliberalism is a further development of liberalism.

Despite the positiveness of the Nurly kosh program and the possibility of solving a variety of problems, it caused ambiguous assessments, sometimes even a negative reaction on the part of ethnic Kazakhs in Kazakhstan. Let's try to highlight the problematic provisions of the implementation of this program. First, the government tried to regulate migration flows by sending returnees to northeastern Kazakhstan, the latter are not popular with them for many reasons. The returnees are attracted by southwest Kazakhstan, Astana and Almaty. In the capital cities, they are ready to live even illegally, illegally equipping comfortable homes right in the center of Astana.

Secondly, the implementation of the program began during the economic crisis, which caused a chain reaction, a decline in the standard of living of ordinary Kazakhs, especially in rural areas, and an active attempt to urbanize them. According to the program, special settlements for returnees were built. They could redeem them through the loans provided with an initial payment of five percent of the cost, then almost six years to save and pay off with the state for 10 years. The returnees themselves call such settlements reservations. At the same time, congestion in one place of returnees can cause unrest on the basis of dissatisfaction with social problems.

In the Kazakh press about the protests of the oralmans, there were statements about the need to restrict their arrival in areas where the social infrastructure is not ready to accept them. Their mentality is different from the Kazakh, and the latter have never opposed the government, the Oralmans have not done enough work for the good of the country, and “there is no merit in the development of the country's economy. There are double standards in the government circles of Kazakhstan for the return of ethnic Kazakhs, the embezzlement of the subsidies allocated to them, legislative obstacles, lack of coordination of the authorities' actions at the international level, debts to oralman families are 1.2 billion tenge.

Thirdly, the social problems of returnees are closely linked to their employment. This group is characterized by a high level of unemployment due to their lack of special professional and educational competencies. Ethnic Kazakhs from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China and Mongolia, Turkey come to Kazakhstan, having different educational systems and levels of knowledge, not to mention writing, dialects of colloquial speech, unlike the Kazakh language. 

Fourthly, with active transnational interaction, they have virtually zero contact with the local population, both with the Russian-speaking and Kazakh-speaking, the latter are accused of losing their national identity. The local population believes that it is necessary to help those who did not leave their homeland in times of disasters, who were with her when it was difficult for her. Integration processes with Kazakh Kazakhs are more difficult for oralmans. The Kazakh language could not serve as a sufficient link, especially since the city Kazakhs of Kazakhstan knew him poorly.
All of the above speaks of the lack of detail and accounting in the program, the ethnonational mental traits of repatriates acquired by them during the period of foreign residence, and the loss of their sacred sense of homeland as a sacred place.

All of the above points to the lack of detail and accounting in the program, the ethnonational mental traits of repatriates acquired by them during the period of foreign residence, and the loss of their sacred sense of homeland as a sacred place. To the third point, we attribute historiography, it is a kind of ideology. The national-state historiography follows the scientific design of ethno-territorial historical constructs with an appeal to the cultural and historical heritage.

Today, each of the former republics of the Soviet Union goes its own way. The formation of new independent states is a very complicated process, and, of course, it affects both public life and science too. The first reaction at the very beginning of development along the path of independence was accompanied by a negative assessment of the recent past. In the 1990s, quite a few historical publications appeared not only in Kazakhstan, but also in other republics, where only negative was dominant, the exaltation of one’s own history. All the republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States have passed through this stage, but we must move on. And here begins his own historiography for the exaltation of the nation, the state. Every nation in the world, no exceptions, is trying to lengthen its history, to have more ancient roots than neighbors, which is associated with ordinary human ambition.

Thus, the diversity of the ethnic world of Kazakhstan transforms memorial socialization, and social memory integrates society, fixes value orientations, forms Kazakhstani patriotism and citizenship. For the most part, Kazakh society at the current stage unites the Soviet past on an emotional level, the Soviet past, especially long, is perceived as more valuable, hence the value of a long and glorious history and corresponding markers. The returnees do not fit into the “long past” and are not imbued with the perception of the sovereign, since their cultural memory does not reflect events outside of Kazakhstan. It takes time to form a common collective memory and social memorialization, which will hold the pictures of the past of various emotional tints and contribute to the formation of the “long past” of Kazakh history.