Labour, housing and migration in a former Soviet steel town
(University of Naples L'Orientale)
Paper short abstract:
In Temirtau, Kazakhstan’s (former Soviet) steel town, industrial and post-industrial urban spaces and lifestyles coexist in a context of protracted labour restructuring. Housing, labour and migration shape the way in which social inequalities are created and redefined.
Paper long abstract:
Since the arrival of Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal in 1995, Temirtau, a city in central Kazakhstan whose origins and development over the last seventy years have been symbiotic with its steel production, has been witnessing a progressive erosion of industrial jobs and a substantial reshaping of its urban landscape. Protracted, large scale out-migration of Germans and other Russian speaking peoples since the early 1990s, and the more recent arrival of Kazakhs from the south and from abroad, have significantly altered the composition of the city's population. Capitalist restructuring, migratory movements and the government's new nation building policies have triggered new social divides and inequalities, but also conducted to the emerging of new lifestyles, aspirations and anxieties, and to shifts in consolidated community practices. In this context, my paper devotes specific attention to the interdependencies subsisting between migratory movements, the 'flexibilization' of labour and industrial employment, and the bust and boom of real estate and housing. By looking at their materiality and sociality, the paper will discuss in how far these urban 'fields' are dealt with constructively or are contested, and address continuity and change in the local forms of social inequality. The paper will show how industrial and post-industrial spaces and orientations mingle in distinctive ways in Temirtau, and, more at large, how this recent development can contribute to the anthropology of (post-) industrial work and space.
Post-industrial revolution? Changes and continuities within urban landscapes