Resurrecting the Nomads: Historical Nostalgia and Modern Nationalism in Contemporary Kazakh Popular Music Videos

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Abstract:

This article analyzes three recent music videos by several Kazakh1 popular musicians: the multinational artist Batyrkhan Shukenov, the ethno-pop band Urker, and the young dombra (two-string lute) virtuoso Asylbek Engsepov. These videos, all produced since 2002, reflect varying degrees of historical nostalgia and nationalism through music and images of Kazakh traditional culture, creating powerful messages of Kazakh national identity for contemporary audiences in Kazakhstan. Drawing upon historian Ronald Gregor Suny's concept of a national “narrative” and Svetlana Boym's notion of “restorative nostalgia,” the article interrogates the types of images used and the reactions that they inspire in their audiences. The article examines not only issues of national identity construction and musical nation-building, but also probes the political motivations and implications of state involvement in the propagation of Kazakh musical nationalism in a multicultural, post-Soviet Kazakhstan.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007760902985833

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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