On Tuesday 2nd May from 16.00 three students from the MA in Eurasian Studies will be defending their theses in a viva-voce examination. The vivas are public and all are welcome to attend.
16.00 – 16.45 Darina Sadvakassova
‘Branding Kazakhstan: the Relationship between State and Non-state Actors.’
This thesis is devoted to the analysis of Kazakhstani nation branding processes. The Republic of Kazakhstan faced the need to present itself on international arena right after the country’s independence. The questions of nation branding were sidelined until the beginning of the 2000s, but they have recently received a new impetus. Academic literature on Kazakhstani nation branding tends to focus on separate advertising campaigns, thus failing to illustrate the whole mechanism of this phenomenon. In addition, it views nation branding as a top-down process, often overlooking the role of non-state actors. By focusing on tourism promotion as one element of the country’s nation branding, this research attempts to distinguish between state and non-state actors engaged in Kazakhstani nation branding and to examine how the relationship between those actors influences the national brand. Although it is difficult to draw clear differences between these sets of actors, in-depth interviews with representatives of the tourist board, tourist association, and travel agencies reveal the existence of a distinction between state and non-state actors as defined by nation branders themselves. Analysis of websites, printed, video, and audio materials helps to identify the images of Kazakhstan that are promoted on the international level, as well as to highlight particular elements of these images that are stressed by different sets of actors. Using a grounded theory approach, this study comes to the conclusion that the level of interaction between state and non-state actors has a strong influence on the content of the national brand.
16.45 – 17.30 Meiirzhan Baitas
‘Traders of the Central Bazaar in Astana: a perspective on motives and social networks.’
This MA thesis focuses on the Central Bazaar traders in Astana that were recruited via convenience sampling. The goal of the research is to investigate the reasons for becoming a trader, identifying factors that lead to the decision to become a trader, and the role of social networks in traders’ lives. In this paper I employ the bottom-up approach to research informal markets as opposed to macro perspective and thus I focus life stories of traders. The research fills the gap in the literature of informal markets by addressing the relationship between one’s motives and social networks in trade. I find that traders’ motives have decisive effects on the establishment of social networks and on the evolution of social networks over time as well as on traders’ perceptions of success and failure. On the one hand I found that highly extrinsically driven traders are better off by establishing strong social networks, which often times evolve into unconditional social networks. This is due to the fact that strong social networks provide traders with the feeling of security and stability. Strong social networks over time, however, become less complex and turn into two-dimensional connections. On the other hand, highly intrinsically driven traders often times fail to establish meaningful social networks due to an individualistic approach to trade and no desire to cooperate and commit to networks.
17.30 – 18.15 Gulnar Akanova
’Language Ideologies of Kazakhstani youth: the Value of Kazakh in the Context of a Changing Linguistic Marketplace.’
The issue of the statuses and use of Kazakh and Russian languages has been a topic of disputes and discussions on both public and private levels since Kazakhstan obtained its independence. During the years when Kazakhstan was a part of the Soviet Union the Soviet authorities deliberately promoted Russian language and culture and displaced the local language from public domains. As a result, Russian language acquired an important place in everyday lives of the people and was a lingua franca for the population. Thus, Russian was perceived as a prestigious language whereas Kazakh lost its value. There have now been 25 years of the promotion of Kazakh language. The population of Kazakhstan reports having positive attitude to Kazakh language and the number of children studying in Kazakh-medium schools increased during the years of independence from about a million people in 1991 to approximately 1.57 million in 2011 (Altynbekova, 2011; Fierman, 2006). However, despite the authority of Kazakh as an authentic language Russian is the dominant language in many domains.This thesis focuses on the language ideologies of contemporary Kazakhstani young people based on fieldwork conducted in the new capital city of Astana. The Kazakhstani younger generation has complex language ideologies regarding the value of Kazakh, Russian, and English which affect young people’s use of languages in different contexts. Russian is not likely to lose its value in the near future, while the current trends promise an increase in popular support for the use of Kazakh.