Viva-voce examination – May 3, 18:00-19:00

On Thursday (May 3) at 18:00, Nurgul Zhanabayeva will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Restrained by Uyat [Shame]: Culture of Dating and Romantic Relationships among Urban Kyrgyz Youth

This thesis is an exploratory qualitative study of the culture of premarital dating and romantic relationships among urban Kyrgyz youth in the city of Bishkek. Drawing from focus group discussions and individual in-depth interviews with young people, I aim to analyze socio-cultural norms and expectations regarding premarital relationships in Kyrgyz society, as well as to present young urbanites’ experiences of these phenomena. Applying the theory of dating and sexual scripts, I discuss what appropriate dating behaviors should be like in the given context. I argue that dating and romantic relationships are socially approved practices in Kyrgyz society mainly because they are seen as precursors to marriage – an important social institution.

However, the approval comes with certain limitations – among them, the most pronounced is the condemnation of premarital sex in relation to women. While young men allegedly enjoy the freedom of their sexuality, young Kyrgyz women are strongly discouraged from engaging in premarital sex. Uyat – a local concept of shame is used as a mechanism for controlling correct sexual performance, as well as an instrument of punishment for deviant behavior. Restrained by uyat, women are finding creative ways of upholding the social norms – their aim is neither subordination nor subversion, but rather finding new ways of operating in the given reality. Moreover, I posit that men, given their sexual freedom, also face sexual pressure, although of a different nature than women.

Furthermore, it is not only the larger society which sees premarital dating as a prelude to marriage, young people also view dating as leading to marriage. Thus, they approach the choice of a potential partner with care. Among the factors of primary importance for young people is one’s socio-economic status – such as quality of received education and financial background. Less important for young people are their prospective mate’s ethnic, religious and regional background, however, they understand that these factors are important for their families, relatives, and even the larger society.

Internal Advisers: Zohra Ismail Beben & Sofiya An
External Adviser: Dr. Noor Borbieva, Indiana University

Viva-voce examination – May 3, 15:00-16:00

On Thursday (May 3) at 15:00, Togzhan Kalamysheva will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Sociocultural Underpinnings of the Life Insurance Market in Kazakhstan

Life insurance is a financial tool used to provide for well-being of dependents in case of premature death or other risks that stop the income flow. The perception of life insurance differs across nations because of the differences in their social norms. This study is about Kazakhs’ perception of life insurance and the extent to which the idea of ensuring life is compatible with their norms and values. In the framework of this study, based on a large database of the life insurance company, I construct the profile of the Kazakhstani life insurance market and define consumption pattern across regions, the occupation of individuals, their age, gender and marital status. Further, I explain this consumption pattern by employing interviews with local people. I analyze my findings through concepts like risk-perception and death-perception that are central to the idea of ensuring life. As life insurance turns out to be incompatible with Kazakhs’ social norms, I explore local sales agents’ marketing strategies to overcome this cultural barrier.

Internal Advisers: Edwin Sayes & Zhanna Kapsalyamova
External Adviser: Prof. Bruno De Cordier, Ghent University

Viva-voce examination – May 3, 11:00-12:00

On Thursday (May 3) at 11:00, Karina Matkarimova will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Germany’s “Soft Power” Strategy in Kazakhstan: Educational and Cultural Aspects

The research represents a case study and explores Germany’s “soft power” strategy in Kazakhstan in terms of education and culture. Since no research has been done before on this matter, the author attempts to provide the key information of the strategy, by analyzing its features, actors and the role of the German diaspora.  In terms of the conceptual framework, the research is based on Joseph Nye’s concept of “soft power” and its interconnection with the “public diplomacy”.  The fieldwork results show that German officials do not use so-called “soft power” concept in their rhetoric, but there is German “cultural relations and education policy”.  Moreover, the research describes the role of the state, non-state actors and also of the German diaspora, and their level of cooperation in Kazakhstan.

Internal Advisers: Charles Sullivan & Gabriel McGuire

External Adviser: Dr. Markus Kaiser, German-Kazakh University

Viva-voce examination – May 3, 09:00-10:00

On Thursday (May 3) at 09.00, Di Wang will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Unofficial Russo-Qing Trade on the Eastern Kazakh Steppe and in Northern Xinjiang in the First Half of the 19th Century

The Treaty of Kuldja (Ili) signed in 1851 between the Russian empire and the Qing empire marked the start of the official Russo-Qing trade in Xinjiang. This thesis aims to explore the generally neglected pre-1851 unofficial Russo-Qing trade on the Eastern Kazakh steppe and in Northern Xinjiang by examining the trade in three area: Semipalatinsk, Tarbagatai and Ili. This pre-treaty era Russo-Qing trade was regarded as illegal on the Qing side with little information available, but legal on the Russian side with abundant data. By comparing the information in Chinese and Russian sources, this thesis argues that the original legal and official Kazakh-Qing trade established in the 1760s was gradually transformed into an unofficial Russo-Qing trade in the first half of the 19th century. Besides analyzing the motivation and the stance of the Russian empire and the Qing empire, this thesis highlights the role of individual actors such as merchants, nomads, government officials and border guards in forging the trade. This thesis also discusses the commodities in the trade, the myth of silver flow and the discovery of the dramatic price change in the year of 1840. The analysis of travelogues and quantitative archival data of the imports and exports of the Semipalatinsk custom post from the 1820s to the 1840s complement the existing scholarship on this topic. By discussing the above-mentioned themes, the author reaches the conclusion that the pre-Treaty era unofficial trade was already marked by established institutions and diverse commodities, though with a high degree of informality. The 1851 Treaty of Kuldja which officialized the Russo-Qing trade in Ili and Tarbagatai did not establish a new trade, but was a result of the pre-Treaty period unofficial trade and carried many characteristics of the pre-treaty era trade.

Internal Advisers: Nikolay Tsyrempilov & Clare Griffin

External Adviser: Prof. Erika Monahan, University of New Mexico

Eurasian MA First-Year Project Presentations – Thurs., Apr. 26, 14.00 – 17.00, 8.310

This Thursday (26th April) first-year students of the MA program in Eurasian Studies will be presenting their thesis feasibility studies in preparation for their research over the summer. The presentations are public. The full schedule is below:

14:00 -14:30 
Gauhar Baltabayeva 
International student migration from Kazakhstan to the US

Advisers: Caress Schenck & Saltanat Akhmetova

14:30 -15:00
Assem Kaliyeva

The waste management system in Astana: The social hierarchy and self-perception among the employees of waste management sector
Advisers: Zohra Ismail Beben & Paula Dupuy

Sandra Real
Narratives of Kumis Consumption and Production in Contemporary Kazakhstan

Advisers: Alima Bissenova & Christina Pugh
Merey Otan
Contemporary music in Kazakhstan and Youth identity

Advisers: Gabriel McGuire & Meiramgul Kussainova

Adel Kudaibergenova
Elderly Women in Kazakhstan: Ageing Experience and Popular Representations
Advisers: Sofiya An & Erika Alpert

Zhuldyz Tashmanbetova
The indigenous Christianity of Kazakh steppe: Adoption of Nestorian Christianity in Medieval Central Asia

Advisers: Daniel Scarborough & Paula Dupuy

Viva-voce examination – Apr 25, Weds.

On Wednesday 25th April at 16.00 Aigerim Kagarmanova will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.
Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Electronic bazaar: Social Media as a Marketplace in Contemporary Kazakhstan photo_2017-10-25_16-25-57
This study focuses on different modalities of social media trade in Kazakhstan and how sellers create trust online using platform features, personal skills and physical locations of stores associated with social media accounts. Researching this topic in Kazakhstan locates this study in a specifically interesting intersection of trade, technology, informality and trust. Social media trade is a part of electronic commerce that is new and technologically advanced type of business, however many traders work informally as they fail to meet legal norms as business registration, paying taxes and giving receipts. Just as individual traders poured to the streets in the period of perestroika, modern day small business owners have occupied social media and turned it into an electronic bazaar. As shops located at bazaars transfer their stores online, and traders learn new technology in order to increase their sales, this study challenges the notion of bazaars being static and backward. Driven by the question of trust building in a complex realm of electronic but yet informal trade, I focus on a concept of a “living account” that is coined by my ethnographic data (interviews, observations and social media content analysis). I explore different dimensions of trade both online and offline to understand how these realms are intertwined in the question of informality and trust. I argue that the “aliveness” of an account produced through regular contact allows sellers to create trust that results in a successful sale. So, as long as an account is perceived to be “living” the question of formal registration, taxes and receipts is not relevant to customers.

Internal Advisers: Aziz Burkhanov & Erika Alpert

External Adviser: Prof. Paul Manning, Trent University