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Regeneration and exclusion in Astana, Kazakhstan

June 2015

Astana, the new capital in Kazakhstan, represents more than just a new start; for architects and planners it became a means of symbolising the country’s movement away from centralised Soviet control

Author of the paper on which this article is based:  Natalie Koch, Syracuse University, New York

Appeared in: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers: Volume 39, Issue 3

Reference: Koch, N. (2014) Bordering on the modern: power, practice and exclusion in Astana, TIBG 39:3, p432-443

Kazakhstan became independent in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the same year. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led the ruling Kazakh party from 1989, decided in 1994 to move the country’s capital from Almaty, near the Kyrgyzstan border, to Aqmola in the central north of the country. Later renamed Astana, the new capital represented more than just a new start for Kazakhstan; for architects and planners it became a means of symbolising the country’s movement away from centralised Soviet control. By undertaking this state-led regeneration, it can be argued that architects and planners also created a means by which some groups became socially excluded. While there has been previous research on how the ‘elite’ players within a population can socially exclude the ‘other’ (in this case, those who do not subscribe to a particular ‘modern‘ vision of Astana), this paper builds on research that investigates how non-elites may also participate in this practice.


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