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Staying at Home

Identities, Memories and Social Networks of Kazakhstani Germans

Rita Sanders

270 pages, 14 figs., 13 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-192-3 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Published (August 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-193-0 eBook

Hb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

“Ethnographically rich, the study is based on a fertile mix of quantitative and qualitative methods such as pile sorting, free listing, network analysis, genealogy, participant observation and interviewing of all sorts. The author convincingly demonstrates that not leaving is nonetheless a dynamic lifestyle which demands efforts of fine-tuning and readjustment to a changing social environment.” · Florian Mühlfried, University Jena, Germany

Despite economic growth in Kazakhstan, more than 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s ethnic Germans have emigrated to Germany to date. Disappointing experiences of the migrants, along with other aspects of life in Germany, have been transmitted through transnational networks to ethnic Germans still living in Kazakhstan. Consequently, Germans in Kazakhstan today feel more alienated than ever from their ‘historic homeland’. This book explores the interplay of those memories, social networks and state policies, which play a role in the ‘construction’ of a Kazakhstani German identity.

Rita Sanders is a Research Project Member at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Cologne. She has worked as a lecturer at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Series: Volume 13, Integration and Conflict Studies
Subject: Refugee & Migration Studies General Anthropology
Area: Europe Asia

LC: DK907.15.G47 S36 2016

BISAC: SOC007000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Emigration & Immigration; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: JFFN Migration, immigration & emigration; JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography


List of Maps, Figures, Illustrations and Tables
Note on Transliteration


  • Kazakhstani Germans and the Study of Nationalities in Central Asia
  • Concepts of Ethnicity
  • Based on Cultural Grounds – Ethnicity as a Resource – Categorization and Power – A Product of Individual Life Experience – Ethnic Boundaries as Cultural Schemas
  • Fieldwork in Taldykorgan


Chapter 1. Memories and Histories

  • Shifting Memories of the Past
  • The Deportation of 1941 – Discrimination against Germans –  Transition and Continuity – The Hard-Working German    
  • The Russian Empire: Colonization of the Kazakh Steppe
  • The Russian Empire: the Settlers from the German States
  • The Soviet Union: Concepts of Nation and Nationality
  • The Soviet Union: Its Formation and Nationality Policies
  • National Delineation – Collectivization – Facing the Menace of the German Reich: The Passport System and Deportations – The Kazakh SSR after 1945
  • Kazakhstan: The Formation of a Nation-State and the Role of Nationality
  • ‘Kazakhization’ – Language Policies – Kazakhstani Identity – Kazakhstani Germans
  • Chapter 2: The Enmeshment of Identities and Life Stories
  • The Truth of Life Stories
  • Four Life Stories, Four Identity Types
  • Soviet Identity – Kazakhstani Identity – Russian German Identity – Kazakhstani German Identity
  • Summary


Chapter 3. Assessing Nationality

  • Nationality as a Unifier of Territorial Belonging, Language, Religion
  • and ‘Mentality’
  • Common Ancestry – Language – Religion – ‘Mentality’
  • National Dichotomies
  • Kazakh Primordialism vs. Russian Constructionism
  • Kazakhs’ Esteem – Russians’ Inclusiveness    
  • Normative Entanglements
  • Summary

Chapter 4. Everyday Nationality in the Kazakh Nation-State

  • ‘The Friendship of Peoples—Is Our Wealth!’
  • Losing Language Hegemony
  • Identification: Strategies and Emotions
  • Kazakhstan as a Homeland
  • Summary


Migration and Social Networks

Chapter 5. Relations in the Locality: Ethnic Mixing and Missing Kazakhs

  • The Relevance of Nationality in Personal Networks
  • The Relevance of Nationality in Marriages
  • Is there a ‘German Community’ in Taldykorgan?
  • Summary

Chapter 6. Disruption in the Transnational Social Field

  • Relatives and Friends Abroad
  • Exodus to a ‘Historic Homeland’
  • Views on Germany
  • Networks and Identity
  • Summary


Chapter 7. Changing Transnational Institutions

  • The ‘German House’
  • Support from Germany
  • Socializing with other Germans
  • A Parish in Transition from ‘German’ to ‘Lutheran’
  • The German House in Transition
  • Summary

Chapter 8. The Divergent Ethnic Policies of Kazakhstan and Germany

  • The Kazakh State’s Official Promotion of Interethnic Harmony
  • The German State’s Contradictory Policies
  • Summary

Conclusion: Germans at Home in Kazakhstan

  • Identity and Memories
  • Identities and Identifications
  • Friendship of the Peoples?
  • Exclusion through Inclusion: The Role of Personal and Institutional Links to Germany


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