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Nomad for export, not for domestic consumption: Kazakhstan's arrested endeavour to 'put the country on the map'

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Concepts such as 'branding' and 'image-making' hitherto confined to the corporate domain have recently become popular among nation states, guiding their public diplomacy projects. This article examines one of those projects: the epic film Nomad (2005). A grandiose state-sponsored endeavour, this film was designed to introduce Kazakhstan, its people and its history to the world and to brand the country as a creative modern economy. However, once released, Nomad made little impact in the public consciousness and proved unsuccessful not only internationally but also domestically. This raised the question of the reasons for the failure of such a costly cinematic effort. This article addresses the question at what juncture of conception or production precisely did the film lose its viewers. To this end the film's story is situated within both Kazakh past and present cultural milieus in order to explain both the state's branding choices and missed opportunities.
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Keywords: Ablai Khan; Borat; Kazakh cinema; Nomad; creative economy; place branding

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Calgary

Publication date: December 20, 2011

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