In Search of Kazakhness: The Televisual Landscape and Screening of Nation in Kazakhstan
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 23, Number 3, Summer 2015
- pp. 321-340
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This article examines how the nation is presented and staged on the small screen in Kazakhstan. Television is a mirror in which the nation can project itself as an “imagined community.” However, the Kazakhstan authorities waited a long time before investing in the small screen. As the country feels more pressure from Russia and younger generations seek a greater sense of Kazakh identity, the authorities seem decided to invest into soft power tools that reinforce Kazakhstani/Kazakh cultural autonomy. After a brief overview of the Kazakhstani televisual landscape and its recent evolutions in ownership, language, and audience ratings, I examine documentary films as a reflection of official historiography, and then decrypt the broadcast “Signs. Legends of the Steppe,” which encapsulates the new genre I name patriotic entertainment.