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The Kazakh Famine of 1930-33: Current Research and New Directions



Although the Kazakh famine of 1930-33 led to the death of 1.5 million people, a quarter of Soviet Kazakhstan’s population, the crisis is little known in the West. However, in recent years a number of scholars in Europe and the United States have begun to research the issue. This article offers an overview of their scholarship, highlighting points of agreement and debate. But despite this new wave of scholarly interest, several facets of the Kazakh disaster still remain poorly understood. This essay concludes by suggesting areas for future scholarly investigation and research.
Abstract:"Although" the" Kazakh" famine"of" 1930-33" led" to" the" death" of" 1.5" million"
West." However," in" recent" years" a" number" of" scholars" in" Europe" and" the" United"
States" have" begun" to" research" the" issue." This" article" offers" an" overview" of" their"
of" scholarly" interest," several" facets" of" the" Kazakh" disaster" still" remain" poorly"
understood." This" essay" concludes" by" suggesting" areas" for" future" scholarly"
rom"1930" to" 1933," a" devastating" famine" ravaged" the" new" Soviet"
republic"of"Kazakhstan." More" than" 1.5" million" people,"approximately"a"
quarter"of" the"republic’s"population"at"the"time,"perished" in"the"crisis."The"
catastrophe,"which"was"sparked"by"Joseph" Stalin’s"policies"of"radical"state"
transformation," provoked" profound" social," demographic," and"
size" of" continental" Europe." Its" effects" continue" to" be" felt" in" independent"
Kazakhstan" today." Though" the" Kazakh" famine" of" 1930-33" has" important"
implications" for" Soviet" history," a s" well" as" the" study" of" mass" violence" and"
comparative" famines," the" crisis" is" little" known" in" the" West." Most" major"
and" the" Kazakh" famine" is" rarely" mentioned" in" synthetic" accounts" of"
This" essay" begins" with" a" brief" overview" of" the" basic" features" of" the"
some"of" the" explanations" given"for"the" Kazakh" famine"at"the"time," and" by"
highlights" the" violent" nature" of" the" Soviet" regime’s" assault" on" Kazakh"
society." It" has" also" begun" to" raise" awareness" of" the" issue" of" the" Kazakh"
famine" of"1930-33" among" historians"writing"in" the" West." But" despite"this"
new"wave" of" scholarly" interest,"several"facets"of" that" disaster" still" remain"
118"" Sarah"Cameron"
The"Kazakh"famine" was"a"part"of"the" collectivization"famines"that" afflicted"
the" Soviet" Union" during" the" years" 1930-33," most" notably" in" Ukraine" but"
also" in" the" Volga," Don," and" Kuban" areas" of" the" Russian" Soviet" Federated"
Socialist" Republic" (SFSR)." Each" famine" was" sparked" by" the" same" basic"
cause."In" 1929,"under"Stalin’s"leadership," the"Bolshevik"Party"launched" the"
First" Five-Year" Plan," a" program" to" transform" society," industry," and"
countryside," uprooting" peasants" from" their" lands" and" funneling" their"
particularly" brutal," and" those" regions" that" had" traditionally" supplied" the"
multi-ethnic" society" composed" of" a" group" of" Muslim," Turkic-speaking"
nomads" known" as" “Kazakhs,”" the" republic’s" majority" ethnic" group" (57.1"
percent" of"the" population)," and" of" significant" Russian" and" Ukrainian"
minorities19.6" and" 13.2" percent" respectively" (Vsesoiuznaia) perepisʹ"82;"
routes" with" their" animal" herds," such" as" camels," sheep," and" horses." They"
of" somewhere" between" two" to" eight" households." This" way" of" life" was" an"
adaption"to" the" peculiarities" of" the" Kazakh"steppe"environment,"including"
the" principle" of" nationality." It" cobbled" together" territories" with" distinct"
cultural," historical," and" environmental" features," creating" what" became"
(ASSR).1"Kazakhstan"was"distinguished"both" by" its" sizeit" was" the" Soviet"
Union’s" second-largest" republic," exceeded" in" size" only" by" the" Russian"
SFSRand" by" the" number" of" its" pastoral" nomads," the" largest" of" any"
republic’s" fertile" northern"and" southeastern" regions." Most" were" relatively"
recent" arrivals," having" settled" the" Kazakh" steppe" under" Russian" imperial"
under"cultivation,"those" settlers" transformed" the" steppe"and" its" economic"
practices,"and" these" changes,"which"ranged"from"shifts"in" trading"patterns"
intensify" the" effects" of" the" Soviet" regime’s" brutal" policies." By" the" early"
Soviet"period,"northern"Kazakhstan"had" become" one" of" the" Soviet"Union’s"
During" 1929" and" 1930," Moscow" launched" the" first" collectivization"
drive."In"certain" Kazakh" regions"of"the"republic,"activists" began" a"program"
of"“full"collectivization"on" the" basis" of" sedentarization,”" a" scheme" to" settle"
and" collectivize" nomads" simultaneously." Famine" began" in" the" winter" of"
struck"Russian"and"Ukrainian"peasant" communities"in" the"republic’s"north"
During" the" years" 1931-33the" height" of" the" Kazakh" faminemore" than"
1.1" million" people," the" vast" majority" of" them" Kazakhs," left" the" republic.2"
They"fled"to" neighbouring"Soviet"republics" but"also"abroad,"to" the"Chinese"
these" refugees" would" never" return" to" Kazakhstan," settling" in" China" or" in"
neighbouring" Soviet" republics" permanently." Within" Kazakhstan," massive"
uprisings," some" numbering" several" thousand" participants," erupted" in" the"
fall"of" 1929" and" throughout" the" years" 1930-33."Red"Army" troops" brutally"
for" much" of" the" famine," corresponded" regularly" during" these" crises," and"
after" the" republic" had" endured" nearly" three" years" of" agony," the" Party’s"
Central" Committee" authorized" limited" concessions," including" the" private"
120"" Sarah"Cameron"
“errors”" in" his" leadership" of" the" republic," and" replaced" him" with" an"
Armenian," Levon" Mirzoian." The" famine" itself," however," continued" until"
1934," when" the" republic" finally" began" a" slow" and" painful" process" of"
While" the" Kazakh" famine" of" 1930-33" resembles" the" other" Soviet"
collectivization" famines" in" its" broad" outlines," it" has" several" distinctive"
rather" than" peasants." Thus" the" dynamics" of" hunger" in" Kazakhstan" were"
instance," was" much" greater" in" the" Kazakh" famine," as" nomads" used" their"
knowledge" of" seasonal" migration" routes" to" evade" repressionwhile" the"
dealing" a" devastating" blow" to" pastoral" nomadic" society.3"Without" their"
herds," Kazakhs" could" not" nomadize." They" had" no" livelihood" or" means" of"
acquiring"food."Prior"to" the" famine," being" Kazakh"was" closely" intertwined"
were" forced" to" sedentarize," or" take" up" settled" livesa" dramatic"
Soviet" Kazakhstan," a" stable" territory" with" clearly" delineated" boundaries"
that"was"an"integral"part"of"the"Soviet"economic"system." But" the"nature"of"
this" state-driven" transformation" was" uneven:" neither" Kazakhstan" nor"
Kazakhs"themselves"became"integrated"into" the"Soviet"system"in" precisely"
the" ways" that" Moscow" had" originally" hoped." The" costs" of" this" state"
formation"were"horrific,"both"for" the"regime,"which"saw"a"massive"drop" in"
the" region’s" agricultural" productivity" in" the" post-famine" years," and"
of" the" disaster’s" death" toll." Of" its" 1.5" million" victims," approximately" 1.3"
million" were" Kazakhs." More" than" a" third" of" all" Kazakhs" perished" in" the"
famine,"and"in"the"aftermath"of"the" disaster" Kazakhs" became"a" minority" in"
existing"elements"of" Kazakh" identity," such" as" kinship" ties," allegiances" to" a"
hereditary" elite," and" the" Kazakh" pastoral" nomadic" way" of" life,"
superimposing" the" category" of" nationality," “Kazakh,”" in" their" place." But"
3"A" secret" police" report" in" October" 1932" calculated" that" animal" numbers" in" the"
republic"had"dropped"by"90.8"percent"in" comparison" with" 1929." In" some" districts,"
despite"the"regime’s"efforts,"many"of"these" pre-existing"features" of"Kazakh"
limited" areas" of" the" republic" in" the" post-famine" years" to" build" up" the"
republic’s" livestock" reserves)," continued" to" play" an" important" role" in"
In"the"decades" after"the"disaster,"the" Kazakh"famine"was"little"discussed"in"
while"touting"the"“victories”"of" collective"farm"construction"in"Kazakhstan,"
acknowledged" “mistakes”" and" “excesses”" in" nomadic" regions" during" the"
years" 1930-33," largely" blaming" Goloshchekin’s" wrong-headed" leadership,"
the" explanation" given" at" the" time" (Tursunbaev" 1957;" Tursunbaev,"
Kazakhskii) aul"1967;"Dakhshleiger" and" Nurpeisov)." Only" in"the" late" 1980s"
of" the" Kazakh" famine" explode" into" public" view." In" 1992" a" government"
commission" under" the" auspices" of" Kazakhstan’s" president" Nursultan"
and" throughout" the" 1990s" the" topic" of" the" Kazakh" famine" dominated"
the" famine," terming" it" “Goloshchekin’s" genocide”" (Abdairaeiymov;"
Abylkhozhin," Kozybaev," and" Tatimov" et" al.)." Other" Kazakhstani" scholars,"
publishing"in"Russian"and" in" Kazakh," offered" rich" investigations"rooted"in"
the" archives" of" the" causes" and" consequences" of" the" fam ine" (Abylkhozhin;"
By" the" late" 1990s," however," there" were" few" scholarly" or" public"
inquiries" into" the" disaster," and" public" attention" in" Kazakhstan" began"
May" 2012," in" a" speech" at" the" dedication" of"a" memorial" to" the" famine’s"
victims" in" Astana," Kazakhstan’s" capital," Nazarbayev" signaled" that" public"
discussion"of"the" famine" might" resume," but" in" a"more" limited" fashion:" He"
urged"Kazakhs"to"remember"the"famine"but" cautioned"against"the"dangers"
122"" Sarah"Cameron"
of" “politicizing”" the" disaster," a" reference" that" evokes" efforts" to" seek"
Historians"in" the" West"studying" the" Soviet" Union" have" been" slow" to"
Sorrow,) the" historian" Robert" Conquest" included" a" chapter" on" the" Kazakh"
famine," which" drew" upon" Olcott’s" materials" and" reached" similar"
decades" until" an" international" group" of" scholars" began" to" revive" it." They"
include" the" French" scholar" Isabelle" Ohayon," the" Italian" scholar" Niccolò"
Park" (Ohayon;" Pianciola" 2009;" Payne" 2011;" Kindler;" Cameron;" Mark;"and"
President’s" Archive" of" the" Republic" of" Kazakhstan," which" holds" records"
pertaining" to" the" activities" of" Soviet" Kazakhstan’s" Communist" Party," has"
released" the" records" of" important" Party" control" commissions" and"
inspectorate" commissions" that" operated" during" the" famine.7"Under"
document" collection" devoted" to" the" Kazakh" famine," the" first" volume" of"
which" has" been" released," which" compiles" archival" documents" from" state,"
5"Nazarbayev"noted:"“But" we" should"be"wise"in"interpreting"history"and"not"allow"
7"At"the"Presidential"Archives,"these" are"the"Peoples’"Commissariat"of"the"Worker-
Peasant" Inspectorate"(collection" 719)" and" the" Authorized" Commission" of" Party"
Control" (collection" 725)," as"well"as" the"“secret”"opis"(subdivision)," of" the" regional"
By" no" means" have" all" of" the" archival" records" relating" to" the" famine"
personal" files" of" certain" key" individuals," such" as" Goloshchekin," remain"
wave"of"foreign"scholars"has"utilized"the" rich"records"that" are"available"to"
make" a" number" of" key" interventions" in" the" scholarly" literature." Their"
combined"research"illustrates" the"violent"nature"of"the" regime’s"assault"on"
scholarship" has" revealed" that" Stalin" knew" of" the" Kazakhs’" suffering" at"
These" findings" puncture" the" long-standing" misconception" that" the"
the" more" brutal" path" that" collectivization" took" elsewhere" in"the" Soviet"
Union." This" notion" still" lingers" in" the" scholarly" literature:" The" Kazakh"
disaster" is" often" dismissed" as" Moscow’s" “mistake”" or" “miscalculation,"
depictions"that"would" seem" to" downplay" the" disaster’s" violent" nature.9"In"
part,"such"portrayals"evoke"the" ideas" of" evolutionary"theorists,"who"argue"
that" the" disappearance" of" mobile" peoples" and" their" transformation" into"
settled" societies" are" an" inevitable" outgrowth" of" modernity." A" number" of"
scholars" working" outside" the" field" of" Soviet" history" have" successfully"
challenged" the" conclusions" of" evolutionary" theory," but" it" has" clouded"
interpretations" of" the" Kazakh" famine.10"Arguably," the" sense" or" the"
be" one" of" the" reasons" that" the" topic"has" been" neglected" for" so" long" by"
scholars" in" the" West." If" this" is" understood" as" a" historical" problem" that"
originated" largely" from" natural" causes," then" it" is" understandable" that"
historians" should" first" turn" their" attention" to" unearthing" those" Soviet"
this" group" of" five" foreign" scholars." One" area" of" disagreement" is" w hen" the"
story" of" the" famine" begins" in" the" 1890s," when" peasant" settlement" of" the"
8"The" historian" Talas" Omarbekov" has" utilized" files" in" Kazakhstan’s" secret" police"
9"Conquest,"for" instance,"argues"that" the"Kazakh"disaster"was" due"to"economic" and"
political" miscalculation," but" was" even" more" profoundly" “a" misunderstanding" of"
10"Both" Kasaba" and" Scott" have" recently" challenged" evolutionary" approaches" to"
124"" Sarah"Cameron"
famine" itself" came" to" an" end," while" Kindler" and" Ohayon" extend" their"
republic,"Moscow"revived"pastoral"nomadism,"the" very"way"of"life"that"the"
regime"had" once" sought" to"eradicate," in" an" effort" to"restore"the"republic’s"
These" differences" in" chronology" point" to" larger" issues." Just" how"
important" was" the" legacy" of" Russian" imperial" rule" to" the" nature" of" the"
Kazakh" disaster?" Would" a" similar" famine" have" occurred" in" the" 1930s"
and" early" twentieth" centuries?" Ultimately," what" did" the" famine" mean" for"
Moscow?" How" did" the" disaster’s" unexpected" consequences," such" as" the"
The" answers" to" these" questions" are" crucial" to" the" larger" field" of" Soviet"
history," as" they" help" us" identify" continuities" and" discontinuities" between"
Russian" imperial" and" Soviet" rule" and" clarify" the" particular" nature" of" the"
These" historians" deploy" different"lenses" and" interpretive" frameworks"
to"analyze"the"crisis." Ohayon"uses"the"tools"of" social"history"to"explore"the"
of"social"transformation"rather"than" on" central" decision-making."Pianciola"
relies"on"the"methods"of"economic"history" to"reveal"the"complex"economic"
story"of"the"famine"is" largely" one"of"violence,"and"he"devotes"considerable"
attention"to"central"and"local-level" patterns"of"violence."In"my"forthcoming"
how" changing" understandings" of" linkages" between" the" environment" and"
These" scholars" have" also" debated" key" questions"related" to" the" Soviet"
regime’s"intentions" in" Kazakhstan" as" well" as" the" course" of" hunger" itself."
11"Kindler" includes" an" eleven-page" (31-42)" overview" of" “Nomads" and" Russian"
Though"there"is"a" general" consensus" that" Stalin’s" first" Five-Year" Plan" was"
various" elements" sparked" hunger." In" Kazakhstan," efforts" to" collectivize"
extract"grain"and"meat"procurements"that"would" be" funneled" to" the" state."
Payne" stresses" the" destructive" nature" of" forced" sedentarization," while"
Pianciola" emphasizes" the" role" of" the" grain" procurements" in" sparking"
hunger."All"of" these"scholars"agree"that"Moscow" sought" to"use"famine"as"a"
means"of" bringing"Kazakhs"under"Soviet"rule."Pianciola"labels"this"process"
disagree"over"the"extent"to" which" Moscow" anticipated" the" full"dimensions"
of"the"crisis"(Pianciola"2004,"191;"Kindler"12)." Of" these" five" scholars," only"
Payne" (in" “Soviet" Steppe”)" has" argued" that" the" Kazakh" famine" should" be"
considered"a" genocide," while" the" others" have" argued," using" various"
Although"this"new" wave" of" foreign" scholarship" on" the" Kazakh" famine" has"
done" much" to" elucidate" the" nature" of" the" Kazakh" crisis," there" are" several"
areas"of" the" disaster" that" remain"under-researched.13"First,"we" do" not" yet"
context." The" essays" in" this" journal" are" a" valuable" step" in" thinking" about"
Soviet"famines" comparatively," but" future"researchers" must" also"scrutinize"
the" connections" that" these" disasters" may" have" had" to" one" another." What"
have" to" the" collectivization" famines," including" the" Ukrainian" famine" and"
famine"in"the"Volga,"Don,"and"Kuban"areas"of" Russia," which" followed" in"its"
wake?" Did" Moscow’s" reaction" to" the" Kazakh" crisis" affect" its" response" to"
12"For"arguments" that"the"Kazakh" famine"should"not" be"considered"a" genocide,"see"
genocide"directly"but"argues"that" Moscow" did" not" plan" the" slaughter" of" Kazakhs."I"
have"argued" that"the"Kazakh"famine" does"not"fit" the"legal"definition"of"genocide"as"
adopted"by"the"United"Nations"General"Assembly,"but"it"may" fit"broader" definitions"
13"The"list"that"follows"is" by" no" means" definitive." As" was" mentioned" earlier" in" the"
essay," the" particular" way" that" the" Kazakh" famine" has" been" remembered" and"
126"" Sarah"Cameron"
subsequent" food" crises?" Did" the" Kazakh" crisis" embolden" Stalin," as" some"
scholars" have" suggested," providing" a" “useful" model”" for" his" assault" on"
followed"national" lines," with" research"on"the"Ukrainian"famine" and" on" the"
Kazakh" famine" entirely" distinct" from" one" another.15"Yet" this" neglects" the"
broader" pan-Soviet" context" of" which" both" crises" were" a" part:" Moscow"
of" the" Soviet" Union" had" implications" for" others." Preliminary" research"
could" not" flee," may" have" been" developed" in" response" to" one" famine" and"
then" deployed" in" another" (Cameron" 18)." Consideration" of" the" Kazakh"
famine" in" its" pan-Soviet" context" may" also" help" scholars" understand" why"
some" regions" of" the" Soviet" Union" did" not" suffer" severe" famine" during"
collectivization."We" know," for"instance," that" officials" in"Soviet" Kyrgyzstan,"
which" was" inundated" with" starving" Kazakh" refugees" by" 1932," cited" the"
needed" to" ascertain" the" ways" that" the" Kazakh" crisis" influenced" Moscow’s"
Another"understudied"area" of" research"is"the"death"toll"in"the"Kazakh"
famine."Like"other"Soviet"collectivization"famines," the" mortality" figures" for"
famine" claimed" the" lives" of" approximately" 1.5" million" people," the" vast"
majority" of" whom" were" ethnic" Kazakhs.16"Some" Kazakhstani" scholars"
unplanned" Kazakh" famine" in" destroying" local" resistance" was" a" useful" model" for"
prior" to" the" Ukrainian" famine," the" historian" Timothy" Snyder" writes:" “By" summer"
1932,"as" Stalin" knew," more" than" a" million" people" had" already" starved" to" death" in"
15"There"are"of" course"exceptions,"but"most" precede" this"new"wave"of"research" on"
the" Kazakh" famine." In" their" book" Davies" and" Wheatcroft" engage" with" articles" by"
16"Maksudov"(770)"argues"that" 1.45"million"ethnic"Kazakhs"and"100,000" people" of"
other" ethnicities" perished." Davies" and" Wheatcroft" (412)" estimate" that" 1.3" to" 1.5"
million"people" died"in"Kazakhstan."Olcott" suggests"that"1.5" million"ethnic"Kazakhs"
propose"higher"figures,"such"as"2.5"million" ethnic"Kazakh"deaths"(Tatimov"
and" Aliev" 216)." Overall" the" mortality" figures" for" Kazakhstan" have" been"
to" collect" data" on" various" famine" indicators" (such" as" births," deaths,"
migration," and" procurement" levels)" from" largely" unutilized" sources,"
including" republic-level" and" regional-level" statistical" archives." Using" this"
data" and" techniques" such" as" historical" geographic" information" systems"
(GIS)"or"electronic"mapping,"Wheatcroft"and"his" team" planned" to" calculate"
previous" studies." Such" a" study" would" also" help" researchers" identify" and"
analyze" regional" differences" in" mortality" rates," a" subject" of" particular"
importance" given" Kazakhstan’s" immense" size." Unfortunately," Wheatcroft"
There" are" particular" challenges" to" further" investigations" into" the"
instance," was" far" more" extensive" than" in" other" Soviet" collectivization"
famines." During" preparations" for" the" 1937" census," some" officials" in"
Kazakhstan" even" used" this" refugee" flight" as" a" way" of" covering" up" the"
famine’s" existence." The" republic’s" precipitous" population" drop," they"
reasoned," could" be" explained" by" the" fact" that" so" many" Kazakhs" had"
accepted" scholarly" measure," the" death" toll" in" the" Kazakh" famine" was"
horrifying." An" accurate" assessment" hinges" upon" detailed" work" with"
population"data"in"other"Soviet"republics,"as"well"as" in"Xinjiang."This" work"
will" include" an" accounting" of" the" famine" refugees" who" fled" and" settled"
Further"work"with"this" statistical"data"may"also"help" answer"a"related"
famine?18"Typically," in" “modern" famines”" such" as" the" siege" of" Leningrad,"
disease"does"not"play"a" major" rolemost"victims"die"of"actual" starvation."
128"" Sarah"Cameron"
Disease" does" not" appear" to" have" been" a" major" factor" in" the" Ukrainian"
Union’s"west,"and"archival"evidence"indicates"that"diseases"such" as"typhus,"
bureaucrats" could" not" even" travel" to" the" most" famine-stricken" regions" of"
the" republic" because" the" outbreak" of" massive" epidemics" made" such" trips"
too"dangerous"(Cameron" 281)."In" the" Kazakh" famine," as" in"other" famines,"
these"diseases" were" induced" by"hunger" and" exacerbated"by"other"famine-
related"phenomena,"such"as"massive"population"movement" and"unsanitary"
conditions.19"Identifying" the" particular" role" that" disease"played" in" the"
Kazakh"disaster"may"also"help"clarify"other"questions,"such" as"why"it"took"
Moscow" so" longnearly" three" yearsto" bring" the" Kazakh" famine" to" an"
Yet"another"underexplored"area" is" the" role" of" Kazakh"actors."How"did"
they" understand" this" assault" on" their" society?" And" how" did" the" disaster"
communication" at" the" republic," oblast," and" raion" levels" of" Kazakhstan’s"
multi-ethnic" bureaucracy" during" the" 1920s" and" 1930s." Thus" the" vast"
and"state"documents"contained"in" the" archives," are" in" Russian." But" within"
and" this" group" tended" to" come" from" a" sector" of" Kazakh" society" that" had"
major" language" of" communication" for" the" steppe’s" nomads." In" the" early"
twentieth"century"Kazakh"elites"had"created"the"first" standardized" written"
form" of" the" Kazakh" language," which" relied" on" a" modified" Arabic" script."
Though"literacy"rates"in"Kazakh"society"remained"low" through" the" 1920s,"
from" this" period," such" as" petitions," newspapers," and" the" minutes" of"
meetings" of" aul," or" local-level," soviets." Frequently" these" sources" contain"
perspectives" and" voices" that" cannot" be" found" in" Russian-language"
documents." Few" outsiders" read" Kazakh," and" it" was" a" language" in" which"
Researchers" have" begun" to" mine" these" valuable" sources" for" insights"
native"languages"such" as" Kazakh" from" the" Arabic"to"the"Latinate"script."In"
the" 1930s" Moscow" changed" the" script" again," to" a" m odified" Cyrillic" script,"
which" is" still" in" use" in" Kazakhstan" today." The" older" Arabic" script" is" very"
difficult" to" learn," even" for" native" speakers" of" Kazakh," and" few" scholarly"
studies" of" the" famine" period" have" utilized" Kazakh" sources" written" in" the"
The"issue"of"sources"raises"another" challenge"particular"to" the"Kazakh"
famine" (in" contrast"to"the" Ukrainian" famine" and" the" famines" in"the"Volga,"
than"literary"culture,"there"are"very" few" primary" sources" that" the" Party" or"
the"1920s" and" 1930s," and" there" are" only" a"handful" of" diaries" or" memoirs"
about" the" period.21"In" Ukraine" the" Welsh" journalist" Gareth" Jones" first"
brought"the"horrors"of" the" Ukrainian" famine" to" the"attention"of" the" West,"
and" his" observations" remain" an" important" insight" into" the" human" side" of"
the"story" of" the" famine" (Gamache)." In" Kazakhstan" there" was" no" similar"
figure" to" chronicle" the" story." Oral-history" projects" on" the" Kazakh" famine"
began" relatively" late," and" because" the" famine" survivors" who" were"
interviewed" were" generally" quite" elderly" and" had" been" small" children"
during"the"disaster,"these" sources" are"of"limited"utility"for"historians.22"To"
capture" the" human" side" of" the" story," researchers" must" seek" out" new"
sources." One" potential" avenue" of" investigation" may" be" Kazakh-language"
literature." While" it" was" not" permitted" to" talk" about" the" famine" in" official"
literary" journals" from" the" time" period," such" as)Zhŭldïz,) indicates" that"
Kazakh" authors" often" wove" the" story" of" the" famine" into"their" novels" and"
short" stories." These" literary" sources" may" yield" important" insights" into"
topics" such" as" the" reconstitution" of" Kazakh" society" in" the" wake" of" the"
disaster" and" the" particular" ways" that" Kazakhs" remembered" the" famine"
are"as"much"about"Kazakhstan’s" own" nation-building" efforts"as"they"are"about" the"
130"" Sarah"Cameron"
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... Food production and supply encounters additional challenges and conflict in Central Asia that are often neglected or poorly understood (Table 3). Known but seldom spoken of is the great Kazakh famine of 1930-1933 when 1.5 to 2.5 million Kazakhs (>25% of the population) died of hunger during Stalin's rule in a preventable disaster [51]. This affects national perceptions of food supply and farming and alerts communities to issues of external (foreign) investment and control, particularly in Kazakhstan. ...
... This spans from energy resources and cropland to Khorgos, the massive dry port and economic zone bordering China and Kazakhstan. Since 2008 the externally documented railway expansion [51,59], much of it in Kazakhstan, went for construction of the Khorgos-Aktau railway from the Chinese border to the Caspian Sea, the Beyney-Zhezkazgan railway and a second line to China at Altynkol, near Khorgos. These are vital links that now connect China with European hinterlands (Table 5). ...
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China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) needs little introduction; the infrastructure investment will reconfigure development in Central Asia. As its origin story and initial encounter, Central Asia offers a prismatic lens to delve into the vital impacts and significant changes wrought by the BRI. In the dryland region, the BRI impact on watersheds and agriculture is a critical challenge with direct implications for food security. Framed by diverse research sources, we utilized spatial datasets from the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative and the World Bank to explore the intersection of food production, water and development. Investigation evaluates the possible trade-offs that Chinese infrastructure investment can have on the communities and environment of Central Asia. The findings identify more than 15,000 km of rail and 20,000 km of roads linked to the BRI crisscrossing the region in 2018. Whilst these transport corridors have improved connectivity, many of these rails and roads traverse important agricultural and water zones, creating undetermined risks and opportunities. Land use change was examined within a 10-km buffer around BRI roads and rails from 2008 to 2018. Railways increased by 23% during this time, yet irrigated and rainfed agriculture decreased whilst urban areas markedly expanded. Contextual research identifies how Chinese policies may encourage agribusiness investment for food exports as possible disruptions to national and regional food supply. However, to date Central Asia provides <1% of Chinese agricultural imports. In fact, Afghanistan is the region's dominant export market, tripling agricultural imports >300% in this time. Similarly, five times more livestock are traded within the region than to China. Evaluating infrastructure change is essential to understand BRI impacts on environments and societies, with the food-water nexus a particular concern in Central Asia. Limited Chinese imports of Central Asian agriculture suggests the region's food security will not be significantly altered by the Belt and Road Initiative.
... It should be noted that Kazakhstan was a part of RSFSR as the Kazak ASSR until 1936, but it is excluded from our analysis, as in the victims of the Kazakh Famine are not counted in the total direct losses for the Russian Federation. This is explained by the fact that the causes and dynamics of the Famine in Kazakhstan differ significantly from the situation in other regions of the USSR (Cameron 2016). ...
Though the 1932–1933 Famine affected both Ukraine (UkrSSR) and Russia (RSFSR), there is still no clear concept of the causes of the Famine and its scale. This study is undertaken to make a comparative assessment of the 1932–1934 direct losses within and between UkrSSR and RSFSR in order to answer the questions as to whether the major grain-producing areas of both republics suffered from the Famine to the same extent and whether the intensity of regional losses was determined exclusively by the grain specialization of the region. Our results show that the regions seriously affected by the Famine comprised a much larger proportion (in terms of territory and population) of UkrSSR than of the RSFSR. The highest excess deaths in UkrSSR are found in the regions that did not play a major role in grain procurement, while in the RSFSSR four grain-producing regions suffered the most. Our analysis suggests that (a) the link between Famine losses and grain procurement is not confirmed in Ukraine, but is partially confirmed in Russia, and (b) extremely high losses are mostly found in the regions where repression policies were much more severe than those introduced elsewhere and for which nationality may be a key factor.
Western scholarship on the foreign policies of the post-Soviet Central Asian states has consistently framed the region as marginalized but ripe for Great Power influence and poised to assume a more important role in world affairs. This article explores the analytical assumptions, institutional agendas, and geopolitical drivers of scholarly and policy portrayals of Central Asia, emphasizing the key role played by the Western military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and the region’s supporting role as logistics providers and security partners. The ensuing local and regional reactions to this intensifying securitization prompted International Relations scholars to explore the limits of Western governance and the liberal international order in Central Asia and highlight the rise of new counter-ordering norms, organizations and networks. This body of work has made important contributions to the now growing literature on post-Western International Relations, but still excludes the voices of many Central Asian scholars themselves and overlooks important regional topics and new analytical approaches.
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One of the distinct characteristics of the 1932–1933 famine is that between 65 and 80 percent of all famine-related deaths (direct losses) in rural areas of Soviet Ukraine (UkrSSR) and its oblasts and some regions of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) occurred during the first six or seven months of 1933, and that in all oblasts of UkrSSR and some regions of RSFSR the number of famine losses increased by a factor of six to 15 between January and June–July of 1933. The historical explanation of this sudden explosion of deaths is critically examined, and a more comprehensive explanation is proposed. We show that the regional variations in these increases in losses are correlated with four factors: extensive household searches for grain with all food taken away in many instances, closing of inter-republic borders and limitation of internal travel by peasants, resistance to collectivization and grain requisitions and repressions, and the “nationality factor.” Analysis of the monthly dynamics of rural losses during the first half of 1933 suggests a possible independent confirmation of the hypothesis that during the searches for “hidden” or “stolen” grain, all food was taken away in many households.
According to the theory of the link between democracy and society's need for educated citizens, the process of transmission of experiences is a basic activity for a society. The conditions of this transmission are the academic, institutional, and political freedom of that society's universities. This transmission takes the form of the communication model: a top-to-bottom form or a horizontal form. The form of transmission is a specific form of rationality expressed in a communicative action. To understand this rationality, it is necessary to analyze existing forms of communication in the context of the history of rationality itself. Today, the digitization of the higher education system has become a global trend, bringing with it new forms of communication. In the Republic of Kazakhstan, the “Industry 4.0” state program affirms that digital communication skills need to be implemented at all levels of social life. The chapter is devoted to the problem of which form of academic communication will be chosen and the consequences of this choice for the Kazakhstan in the future.
Stalin’s collectivization campaigns and the associated famine killed millions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, yet the two countries commemorate the events quite differently. In Ukraine, the Holodomor (death by hunger) occupies a prominent place in the public sphere and is remembered most frequently as a genocidal policy against the Ukrainian nation. In Kazakhstan, the famine takes up little space in the public arena, and officials remain reluctant to call it a genocide. This article explores these differences using two models explaining variation in the politics of memory: one emphasizing the instrumental calculations of political elites and the other emphasizing the historical and cultural constraints that frame contemporary debates. These two models complement each other rather than compete. The contest over the famine in Ukraine was in part a consequence of eastern and western Ukraine’s differing histories, but it intensified when governing politicians deployed the memory of the famine instrumentally in the 2000s. In Kazakhstan, political calculations led the regime to emphasize unity and stability over divisive debates about the past, but historical factors made depoliticizing the famine feasible.
This article explores the environmental, historical and cultural factors that influence civic engagement among rural communities in contemporary Kazakhstan. It traces how forms of nomadic communitarianism as a response to the vicissitudes of life on the open Steppe merged with the imposed collectivism of Soviet society in such a manner that the two were able to coexist together in both policy and practice. Drawing on fieldwork among a number of villages in South Kazakhstan, we argue that, together, the nomadic and Soviet pasts still constitute the core values at work in rural communities, influencing the structure of local power relations and the nature of group association and cooperative venture. Rather than disappearing, these values, if anything, are re-emerging as part of an attempt to legitimise Kazakh culture as the core identity of the modern nation state.
Article This article challenges the ahistorical figure of the ‘steppe nomad’ by presenting some of the main characteristics of Kazakh nomadic pastoralism, which vary widely in time and space. It compares two ethnographic studies conducted a century apart in the same place in south-eastern Kazakhstan: a statistical survey from 1910 and an account of a transhumance in which the author took part in June 2012. Sedentary pastoralism now prevails in Kazakhstan, but a system of seasonal pastures endures in some areas. In Raĭymbek District (Almaty Province), vertical nomadism takes advantage of the altitudinal variations of vegetation and climate. This article demonstrates both the continuity of nomadic routes despite successive crises during the twentieth century, and considers the overall change from quasi-nomadism to quasi-sedentarism. This comparison a century apart also fosters dialogue between history and social anthropology through a dual synchronic approach, seeking to restore historicity to our understanding of pastoral nomadism.
Article Abstract : This article describes the evolution of Kazakh techniques of animal husbandry from the nomadic pastoralism practised in the 19th century, through Soviet rationalisation and professionalisation, to the crisis of this sector due to decollectivisation and to its recover in the 21st century. Two field studies carried out between 1994 and 2013 in two Kazakh auls, a sedentary village and a nomadic summer camp, show on a micro scale how ways of acting on and with livestock, especially sheep, reflect a transformation of the relationship with nature : loosening of the control over animal reproduction and mobility, decline of zootechnic interventionism, in favour of more opportunistic forms of actions, but without returning to the previous versatility of species uses or to a more extensive system. If pastoralism can be a model of sustainable exploitation of the steppes, Kazakh pastoralists practise it not for ecological reasons, but to maintain the essential relationship between livestock and people.
This quote, grisly as it is, could have been a commonplace observation across the Soviet Union in the early 1930s as such sights became the terrible handmaiden of collectivization. This recollection, however, comes not from the usual victim of Stalin’s famine, the peasantry, whose vagabondage always signals a severe social crisis, but nomadic Kazakhs—a nation well acquainted with pulling up stakes during hard times. These Kazakhs, however, were not nomads but desperate “displaced nomads” (otkochevniki), without their herds, far from their familiar migratory routes, who endured not one but innumerable trails of tears at this time. What had been emblematic of a way of life, of Kazakhness (qazaqtyq)—nomads on the move—now became horror, as an observer in Pavlodar related: “It is not rare to meet a Kazakh family, fleeing from who knows where and dragging behind them a sled, on top of which lies the corpse of a child, who died along the way.”3
The article outlines the policies of the Soviet state towards the Kazakh herdsmen between the 1928 crisis and the mid-1930s, in order to explain the death of more than a million Kazakhs during the 1931-1933 famine. Together with the cause more frequently indicated in the literature, the loss of means of subsistence which resulted from the requisitioning and butchering of the herdsmen's livestock before they were pushed into the kolkhozes, it is possible to add the initiatives of the local administrative apparatus, determined primarily by the logic of the requests arriving from Moscow. These initiatives materialized principally in grain requisitions being imposed on the herdsmen, in a process of "redistribution of damages" from the peasants to the herdsmen. Moreover, requisitions and famine caused the collapse of trade between herdsmen and peasants, and this worked more against the former than the latter.
For two thousand years the disparate groups that now reside in Zomia (a mountainous region the size of Europe that consists of portions of seven Asian countries) have fled the projects of the organized state societies that surround them-slavery, conscription, taxes, corvée labor, epidemics, and warfare. This book, essentially an "anarchist history," is the first-ever examination of the huge literature on state-making whose author evaluates why people would deliberately and reactively remain stateless. Among the strategies employed by the people of Zomia to remain stateless are physical dispersion in rugged terrain; agricultural practices that enhance mobility; pliable ethnic identities; devotion to prophetic, millenarian leaders; and maintenance of a largely oral culture that allows them to reinvent their histories and genealogies as they move between and around states. In accessible language, James Scott, recognized worldwide as an eminent authority in Southeast Asian, peasant, and agrarian studies, tells the story of the peoples of Zomia and their unlikely odyssey in search of self-determination. He redefines our views on Asian politics, history, demographics, and even our fundamental ideas about what constitutes civilization, and challenges us with a radically different approach to history that presents events from the perspective of stateless peoples and redefines state-making as a form of "internal colonialism." This new perspective requires a radical reevaluation of the civilizational narratives of the lowland states. Scott's work on Zomia represents a new way to think of area studies that will be applicable to other runaway, fugitive, and marooned communities, be they Gypsies, Cossacks, tribes fleeing slave raiders, Marsh Arabs, or San-Bushmen.