As the rest of Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union, Kazakstan has experienced a process of fundamental economic and social transformation since the country gained independence. After a series of dramatic crises, which lasted for most of the 1990s, more recent years have seen a constant up and down of the local economy, fuelled be the booms that came along with the growing revenues from oil and gas extraction. This enabled trickle-down effects that benefited many of the people in the region but also set in motion a process of rapid social change and stratification. This panel will take up the general theme by looking at one particular region, namely the south-eastern part of Kazakstan, also referred to as Zheti-Suw, or Land of the Seven Rivers. Representing a rather privileged part of the country due to its fertile soils and the closeness to national and global trade routes, the region offers an apt insight into more general processes. Being based on original empirical fieldwork, the papers in the panel will investigate the economic and social changes going on by looking at a range of related topics such as rural economy, trade and urbanisation as well as the new role that kinship and ethnicity play in this picture. Key questions to be tackled are thus: Who are the winners and losers in this transformation process? What kind of social networks are relevant for that? How is success in life publicly expressed? What strategies do people apply to adapt to the new institutional frameworks?