On Thursday 15th June at 17.45 Dmitriy Mel’nikov will be defending his thesis in a viva-voce examination.
The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.
Room 8.322B, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Title: Toward Russophone Super-Literature: Making Subjectivities, Spaces And Temporalities In Post-Soviet Kazakhstani Russophone Writing
Abstract: This thesis is devoted to the analysis of literary works by a number of the leading post-Soviet Russophone Kazakhstani writers: Anuar Duisenbinov, Bakhyt Kairbekov, Diusenbek Nakipov, Nikolai Verёvochkin, Il’ia Odegov and Iurii Serebrianskii. Kazakhstan is a country where Russian literature has been developing quite successfully since the collapse of the USSR. There has been a transformation of writing in Russian in Kazakhstan since the country’s independence – with the rise of the new generation of the writers in the 2000s, Russian literature in Kazakhstan transformed into Russophone Kazakhstani literature. In this thesis, I argue for the difference between the younger and older generations of the contemporary Russophone Kazakhstani writers – the latter is focused on post-traumatic sense of loss and absence, while the former is characterized by a more positive identification concentrated on the new national post-independent realities of Kazakhstan. The concept of Russophone super-literature fits most the younger generation of the authors. The main argument of the thesis is that Russophone Kazakhstani literature is a supralinguistic and supracultural realm where complex subjectivities of Russophone Kazakh-ness, “other” Russian-ness and Kazakhstani-ness are produces and expressed. While increasing their community, the younger writers reconsider the imperial and colonial aspects of Russian-ness, incorporate (Russian-Kazakh) bilingualism, keep pace with literary modernity, accumulate their international literary capital and seek for independence from the political and nationalizing agendas of both Kazakhstan and Russia. Despite its growing importance, post-Soviet Russophone Kazakhstani literature is almost unexplored in English-language scholarship. While relying on textual analysis of prose and poetry as well as on in-depth interviews with the Kazakhstani writers, I conclude that now Russophone Kazakhstani literature demonstrates a high degree of vitality, first of all by nurturing new generations of Russophone writers in the Almaty Open Literary School; however, the bright possible future of the literature should not be overestimated, because of a number of problems such as poor national book market, the lack of audience and the continuing de-Russification of the country.
‘The Perception of Volunteering Experiences of Young Volunteers in Kazakhstan’
This thesis focuses on volunteering as a modern phenomenon that has emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan. The volunteering phenomenon has been neglected by social science research in Kazakhstan. Therefore, this study was undertaken to investigate the emergence of volunteering as a new unexplored social process. Particularly, I explore how perceptions of young volunteers form during their volunteering experience, that helps to understand the position of volunteer in Kazakhstani society. This thesis heavily relies on interviews with volunteers and key informants. In addition, I review the laws of Kazakhstan related to non-governmental and non-profit sector that indirectly touches upon volunteering and the recent Draft Law on volunteering (June 16, 2015). The thesis includes the opinions of experts, volunteers and government representatives on volunteers’ position and volunteering phenomenon in Kazakhstan. I explored the notion of volunteering in Kazakhstan, the opinions of participants on their motivations and the benefits from volunteering, the main issues that influence perception and motivation of volunteers in relationships with other actors (society, the state, volunteering organisation). The contribution of the study is the model of the relationships of volunteers with other actors, illustrating how the relationship between volunteers and the state, society and volunteering organisations are important for the volunteering sphere overall.
‘The Internationalisation of Higher Education in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: State Policies and Institutional Practices?’
This thesis deals with the interpretation and implementation of the internationalisation of higher education in Kazakhstan at national and institutional levels. The goal of the study is to find out how internationalisation of higher education is defined in the national policy documentation and in universities’ development strategies on education, how that interpretation is similar/different to those appearing in academic literature, and how it is reflected in the universities’ practices of internationalisation. As the research results illustrate, national and state higher education institutions in Kazakhstan are dependent on state policies in terms of internationalisation, though some freedom is given to universities in academic mobility and international cooperation, and limited by governmental funding for internationalisation activities. Kazakhstani universities plan and implement only the feasible elements of internationalisation, thus minimising the risk of failure.
‘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.
‘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.
’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.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 10th May, Xeniya Prilutskaya will be defending her MA thesis, entitled Juggling risk: Lay perceptions of ecological and health risk in post-Soviet mono-industrial Temirtau, at a viva-voce examination.
The thesis defence is public and open to all, and will be held at 11.30am in Room 8.309 of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.