July-September 2023
Public Discussion ‘(De)coloniality and Its Discontents’

Eurasian Cultural Alliance
Public Discussion ‘(De)coloniality and Its Discontents’

For the past 30 years of independence, the Kazakhstani establishment has deliberately fostered structural inconsistencies within society by manipulating public opinion regarding ethnicity and nationality. Through their dominance in the civil sector, academic community, and cultural sphere, they have hindered open discussions about the past of the Russian Empire and the USSR, which continues to shape our present.
Many non-Kazakh ethnic groups chose to stay in Kazakhstan when the country gained independence, but they have faced challenges of assimilation due to the government's weak social and cultural policies over the past 30 years. There are increasing calls to discrimination against various social groups on economic, legal, and cultural grounds because of their ethnicity or language. These discriminatory attitudes are often intertwined with the discourse of decoloniality, which has gained prominence in public political discussions as a means of challenging the Soviet past. Noncritical acceptance of the concept of decoloniality in its simplistic form may increase the risk of violent identity-based conflicts within society. It determines the necessity of a broad public discussion to reflect on the concept of decoloniality in a systematic way.
The project aim
The project aimed to facilitate critical deliberation of current political issues related to overcoming Kazakhstan's colonial past through the concept of decoloniality by organizing a respectful dialog among local scholars and representatives of civil society with different identities and points of view, as well as exploring the problematic outcomes of various interpretations of the decolonial concept.
Project objectives
-      To introduce the basic meanings of the concept of decoloniality, its different interpretation and discuss them in the context of real political and social issues that Kazakhstan is facing.
-      To raise awareness of the issues surrounding the colonial past and present in Kazakhstan, including risk and challenges related to identity discrimination, as well as potential civil conflicts in case of such discrimination.
-      To facilitate a critical discussion on the concept of decoloniality in Kazakhstan focusing on revealing unreflected problematic aspects of the decolonial discourse.
Main project activities
Three public lectures and a round table were held as part of the project:
-      “Decolonization and Retraditionalization”, August 19, 2023 (social anthropologist and activist Zarina Mukanova);
-      “What and Why Discussions on Decoloniality Are Needed For us?”, August 23, 2023 (social researcher Galym Zhusipbek);
-      “Decoloniality in the Optics of Kazakhstan”, August 30, 2023 (political sociologist Diana Kudaibergen);
-      “What Do We Talk About (and don’t), When We Talk About Decoloniality?”, August 27, 2023 (key speakers - journalist and activist Bella Oiynbetova, social scientist Bhavna Dave, Zarina Mukanova and Galym Zhusipbek).

Five texts on the problem of the decolonial concept were written and designed in the form of a digital catalogue as a result of the project.