Homeland Conceptions and Ethnic Integration Among Kazakhstan’s Germans and Koreans

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Through comparative analysis of the reactions of Kazakhstan’s Germans and Koreans to the emergence of an independent Republic of Kazakhstan, this book enhances understanding of firstly, the conflicting dynamics of socio-political integration in post-Soviet space; secondly the role played by “kin-states” in the creation or negation of “return myths,”; and thirdly, the significance of small-scale homelands in the process of de-and re-territorializing identity. The analysis in this study combines library/archival research with survey and interview data from the late independence period (1996-2002) in an effort to elucidate the interactive nature of place, power, and identity.


“In this present work, Diener provides a valuable contribution to this geographic research agenda. His focus on identity as a discursive field and a category of practice that is constituted through a sense of place and a process of reterritorialization engages with and makes its own contribution to the leading edge works in the fields of cultural and political geography, political anthropology and ethnosociology. His focus on two of the deported peoples whose members were forcibly resettled in Kazakhstan provides an exceptionally clear lens through which to assess the reterritorializing and rescaling of place and identity among disaporic communities … this study relies on more than secondary source materials and content analysis of official documents, speeches and laws, in that Diener has tested his ideas about reterritorialization and rescaling of disasporic identities through the use of his own surveys and in-depth interviews among Koreans and Germans in Kazakhstan. This enriches the study enormously, and provides the reader with a much more nuanced understanding of the interactive ways in which identity and sense of place are reterritorialized and rescaled in the contemporary Soviet Union.” – (From the Commendatory Preface) Robert J. Kaiser, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“One of the most important themes in the modern globalized world has been the increased interest in national identity. This phenomenon has been strongly influenced by the proliferation of new states in the post-Soviet era. The rise of nationalism and national conflict has been important in many regions of the world from East Timor through Quebec. In some regions this has been a quiet call for increased rights, while in others, nationalism has exploded in ethnic cleansing and armed conflict. Few events can mobilize the population of a region like nationalism. Diener has provided a timely account of the changing nature of nationalism in the modern world system, using examples from a region that is gaining prominence in the post-September 11th world. For many years, Central Asia has been an important crucible of national identity in the Soviet sphere. Now, as world attention is focused on Central and Southwest Asia, the national conflict in Central Asia has become an important topic. Diener’s discussion of nationalism in Kazakhstan provides an example of the problems that are associated with nationalism in the newly independent states of post-Soviet Central Asia. While Diener’s account of nationalism in Central Asia is an important read for scholars interested in the region, this book represents an important advancement of the general literature on nationalism. A large amount of the literature on nationalism tends to ignore the geography behind nationalism, or relegates discussions of geography to the map of the distribution of nationalities in a region. Diener destroys this archaic conception of geography through an emphasis on homeland as an integral source of identity for nations. Diener’s discussions of displacement and belonging are important and essential reads for anyone interested in political development throughout the world. In a world where competing claims to land is becoming an important flashpoint issue, as in India and Pakistan, Diener provides a powerful discussion that links nationalism to issues of territorial identity and rootedness in territory … Overall Diener has produced a profound work, one that should be read by not only scholars focusing on Central Asia, but anyone interested in nationalism and conflict throughout the world. Diener’s discussion of homeland as an influence on the development of nationalism propels geography into an important player in the discussion of national development. His discussion of the fleeting nature of national identity and nested identities will help explain issues of nationalism in regions as diverse as the European Union and sub-Saharan Africa. In short this is an important work, one that breaks new ground in the geography of nationalism literature in particular and the national literature in general.” – Richard L. Wolfe, Ph.D, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

“This manuscript on Kazakhstan’s minority problems is an excellent piece of original research on what will doubtless be a major issue of concern in former Soviet States over the next decade. Amid all the social science research product of the past decade concerning the collapse of the old Soviet Union, the problems that Diener has focused on have frequently been ignored by Western researchers, and for understandable reasons. Yet over the past dozen years these minority ethnic and linguistic problems are turning out to be critical in many of the new ex-Soviet states. Accurate and contemporary data are difficult to obtain. One must normally have a local language facility, an understanding of the cultural milieu, and the experience of being present on-the-ground for a substantial period. Diener is one of the very few with these characteristics and has gained this position by investing much time and effort in obtaining the necessary skills and support for this research task. In addition, he applies to the analysis of these minority issues a command of the relevant conceptual framework necessary for a successful study. Diener demonstrates his command of the relevant literature of ideas about territorialization, transnationalism and disapora politics.” – Julian V. Minghi, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina

Table of Contents

1. Territorialization, Transnationalism, and Diaspora Politics
2. Ethno-Political Situation in Kazakhstan
3. Historical Sketches
4. Data Analysis
5. Conclusion

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