Behind renaming: state, minorities and toponym changes in Almaty and North Kazakhstan oblasts since 1991
Diego Gordon, Maria
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Lately renaming of districts, towns and villages in Kazakhstan has drawn attention amongst experts, journalists and curious onlookers equally. The topic has caused particular interest within heated debates on Kazakhstan’s nation-building path and the role that national minorities are meant to occupy in that process. In fact, both media and academia have often portrayed policies of renaming in the country as another sign of an ongoing process of “Kazakhization”. During the last decades, scholarship involved in the study of toponyms has developed approaches closer to critical studies in the belief that the study of the landscape, and the elements which conform it (as it is the case of place-names) can be a useful tool in order to expose the prevailing ideologies behind the ones who author it through acts such as naming and renaming practices, or in other words, the ones who hold the power over it. Therefore, the objective of this work is to understand the attitudes of the Kazakhstani state towards its national minorities through the analysis of the acts of renaming which took place since its independence.
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