Dr. Zarina Adambussinova, American University of Central Asia in Bishkek
In 1991, the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union and a subsequent declaration of national independence gave ruling elites in Kazakhstan an opportunity to form a new state and nation in various ways. For building new ideological bases, a political elite decided to focus on the promotion of core nation’s interests through a range of state-sponsored campaigns for the rebirth of the Kazakh language, the advancement of ethnic cadres, rewriting national history, and establishing a fundamentally new national heritage. In the emerged discourse of nationalism and capitalism, a state-sponsored heritage serves to support national and economic interests of post-independence Kazakhstan with a major emphasis on state-building and nation-making processes. It also tends to throw off the legacy of the country’s colonial past and build borders to delimit what and who is excluded from being publicly remembered and commemorated. This project draws on a range of conceptual works generated in Heritage and Museum Studies and employs an ethnographic case study. It specifically centers around a small-scale local post-Soviet Museum in Kazakhstan whose official and informal museum activities were scrutinized. The study seeks to explore from a bottom-up perspective the complex relationship between heritage and people professionally dealing with that heritage.
Dr. Zarina Adambussinova is currently a postdoctoral fellow of the Volkswagen Foundation in the Department of Anthropology, Technology and International Development at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Zarina holds a PhD in Central Asian Studies from the Humboldt University zu Berlin, Central Asian Studies Seminar and Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH). Her research interests include heritage, heritage policy, heritage and memory practices, post-Soviet Central Asia, mono-industrial towns (monogorod), informal economic practices. Since October 2020, she has been working on her postdoctoral project “Dealing with Uncertainty: Socio-Economic Survival Strategies of Local Residents in post-Soviet mono-industrial Towns in Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan)”.