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Accepted Paper:

Constructing the Underground: Almaty Nightlife’s struggles with Virtue Signaling and Decoloniality  
Abigail Scripka (Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History) Kamila Narysheva


Nightlife has always been a vessel for social movement, activism, and community-building across the world, in the case of Almaty we have seen nightlife evolve in similar ways. Almaty DJs in the past years have earned international notoriety on platforms like Boiler Room and Hör. With this notoriety along with DJing abroad, DJs have brought what they have learned from huge nightlife scenes like Berlin and Copenhagen to Almaty. Keeping this in mind, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nightlife scene of Almaty has seen a huge shift. Solidarity events for Ukrainians would immediately become common, fundraising for humanitarian aid, but at the same moment Russian relokanti began to fill not only the streets of Almaty, but also the clubs.

Our paper seeks to explore the themes of solidarity, virtue signaling, and decoloniality through the lens of the Almaty nightlife scene. It seeks to address the issues of how the scene only addresses social issues (like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, violence against women, LGBTQIA+ issues, and Israel-Palestine) on a superficial level as a means of seeking notoriety. Additionally addressing the way the arrival of relokanti has impacted social movements within the nightlife scene along with the colonial attitudes they have brought with them towards Kazakhstanis and the contrasting issue of Kazakhstani artists continuing to rely on Russian notoriety.

The authors come from two varying perspectives, Kamila Narysheva is a Kazahkstani DJ and curator based in Almaty, whose main curatorial research is mainly focused on the ideas of decoloniality and self-identity in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Having lived in Russia for two years Kamila holds a unique perspective on the ways in which coloniality shapes the mentality of Russian relokanti in Kazakhstan and perception of Central Asian migrants in Russia.

Whereas Abigail Scripka is a queer researcher from the United States and Thailand whose work is rooted in decoloniality, they have spent 2 years living in Kazakhstan and Central Asia and they currently live in Berlin, their perspective on these issues comes from an academic, Western, and outsider perspective but also share the perspective of having lived in Russia with Kamila. Together this paper will serve as a dialogue between the two authors from their varying perspectives and backgrounds despite similar theoretical and methodological approaches.

Panel CULT02
(Post-)colonial and Decolonial Attitudes in Central Asian Culture
  Session 1 Thursday 6 June, 2024, -