Archive for October 18, 2007

Nazarbayev’s autobiography

Sorry for the gap in posting.  We will have wireless Internet access at our new flat soon, in the mean time we are still settling in. I’ve been in Almaty less than a week and have been meeting many people. Also, I’ve been reading Nazarbayev’s autobiography that was published in 1998.  He has an interesting perspective about the Kazakh Nomad from his own experience from p. 16. 

“Bolshevik historians misunderstood the nature of traditional Kazakh nomad culture. They believed that the Kazakhs did nothing but move around the steppes at random, like gypsies. In reality, their life was far more structured. Most had a permanent winter home, with out-buildings, normally built out of wood, known in Kazakh as a kystau. They usually had a fixed summer habitat as well. Typically, the Kazakh nomad possessed large herds of cattle and so needed a vast territory on which to graze them. It was simply impossible for them to stay in one place. The system was also highly regulated. Everybody knew exactly to whom each piece of land belonged and where the border ended, making it impossible for members of one family or clan to cross into land belonging to another. Indeed, borders were always an extremely important matter. Disputes about them, dzhirdau, lay at the heart of some of the worst crises or conflicts on the steppes.”

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