LIT-03
Representations of Self and Other in Kazakh Literature

Convenors:
Christopher Fort (University of Michigan)
Emily Laskin (University of California Berkeley)
Chair:
Christopher Fort
Discussant:
Emily Laskin
Theme:
LIT
Location:
IMES Conference Room 512
Sessions:
Thursday 10 October, 17:00-18:45

Abstract:

This panel will address representations of self and other in Kazakh-language literature from the Russian imperial to the Soviet period. With a focus on Kazakhs as a burgeoning nation engaging with powerful neighboring political forces, each of the papers in this panel explores the ways in which local and traditional Kazakh knowledge came into contact with, and in some cases transformed, Russian or Chinese attempts to understand and control Kazakhs and their territory. Additionally, each paper takes a novel or set of novels as its primary text, which allows the presenters on this panel to analyze how Kazakh identity functioned in the national imaginary, especially in contrast to the imaginary of other regional identities. Papers include a discussion of Kazakh local knowledge and the limits of Russian colonial knowledge, as well as the reception of this vision of life on the peripheries of the Russian Empire, in Mukhtar Auezov's novel Abai Zholy; an examination of a Soviet-era Kazakh retrospective on Russian imperial-era methods of collecting and producing knowledge on and about the Kazakh steppe in Esenberlin's novel Kōşpendiler; and an account of the forced modernizations faced by Kazakhs caught between Soviet and Chinese communist territories, with a focus on the literary works of the late-Soviet Kazakh writer Qabdesh Zhumadilov and the ways that his fiction differed from official narratives about Kazakh people in Western China. As a group, these papers will open lines of inquiry about local and trans-regional Kazakh responses to international political and social forces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with broader implications for how studies of Central Eurasian literature can address both local and global historical and political developments.