PUBLICATION: Adrien Fauve, « A tale of two statues in Astana: the fuzzy process of nationalistic city making » (February 2015)

9 février 2015

Adrien Fauve (Ceri, Science Po)

« A tale of two statues in Astana: the fuzzy process of nationalistic city making »

Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity (February 2015)



In the summer of 2009, statues stood leaning in a yard, beyond Independence Square in Astana. The situation was incongruous and constituted an enigma: Why were these monuments left alone in shambles? This paper argues that nationalistic city making is more of a resource for people involved in patron/client relationships and a contingent outcome, rather than a planned strategy. This case study, drawing on evidence gathered through qualitative methods with artists and urban-planners, hence reveals a paradox: in Kazakhstan, there surely is a state incentive to produce nationalistic symbols, but in the absence of a mid-term strategy, city-planners and the people they work with improvise in order to answer local authorities’ demands, and use this opportunity to advance their own interests. Hence, the political production of space is considered a fuzzy process, contingent on the agency of multiple subjects, and treated as an outcome of Foucauldian “micro-physics of power.” But even though it is erratic, it still creates the built environment which will be reacted upon by citizens. Finally, this sociopolitical perspective on nationalistic urbanism demonstrates that Astana’s scenery is a fuzzy “landscape of power” instituting an erratic Kazakhstani regime, based on the political economy of symbolic goods.

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