Monday, September 01, 2014

On Kazakh Statehood

Of course there were forms of statehood in Kazakhstan run by the indigenous population before the territory finally became completely absorbed into the Russian Empire in the 19th century. But, the modern Kazakh state is a direct successor of the Kazakh SSR formalized in 1936. The actual borders of the Kazakh SSR had already been finalized in 1932 when it was still the Kazakh ASSR (formed in 1924) and the Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast was detached from Kazakhstan and made part of the RSFSR. Four years later in 1936 the Karakalpak ASSR was transferred from the RSFSR to the Uzbek SSR. The creation of Kazakhstan as a modern nation state starts in 1920 with the creation of the Kirgizstan ASSR in its territory. At that time the Soviet government like the earlier Tsarist regime still wrongly referred to the Kazakhs as Kirgiz and the Kyrgyz as Kara-Kirgiz. This first republic did not encompass much of the southern and eastern territory of modern day Kazakhstan including the area around Almaty. These territories only became part of Kazakhstan with the formation of the Kazakh ASSR in 1924. These national territories, the Kirgizstan ASSR, Kazakh ASSR, and most of all the Kazakh SSR had many of the trappings of the modern nation state, although they lacked the key attribute of political independence. The Kazakh SSR had national borders, national symbols, a national history, and a national cadre of leaders. By 1991 the only thing it lacked to make it a functioning state was political independence. The state structures inherited by the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1991 were all entirely constructed during the Soviet era and drew almost no influence at all from earlier forms of Kazakh statehood. The creation of the current Kazakh state and indeed the transformation of the Kazakh people into a modern nation along European lines only occurred in the 20th century. So while one can clearly point to earlier Kazakh state formations perhaps as early as the 16th century, these forms of statehood were very different from the modern nation state that is the model for present day Kazakhstan. They were not models or influences for the later development of Kazakh statehood under Soviet rule. Kazakh statehood as it stands today is a project that the Soviet government embarked on starting in 1920 and as such is relatively new.

No comments: