The Virgin Lands Campaign in Kazakhstan: A Social History, 1954 - 1964

  • From today’s perspective, the Virgin Lands Campaign (VLC), an initially agricultural intervention which unfolded in Soviet Kazakhstan in the decade between 1954 and 1964 and turned into a major social reform, appears like a mosaic made of pieces which, although fitting together seemingly well, were of a different nature, scale, importance and clarity. This dissertation is an attempt to deconstruct this phenomenon and, in so doing, to find how the VLC as a sequence of agricultural, social and ideological interventions, interplayed with larger developments associated with Khrushchev’s leadership, in the specific setting of the Kazakh countryside. I seek to answer two questions: How did the social and ideological settings of Soviet Kazakhstan change with the onset of the VLC and what implications did this have for the livelihood patterns and cultural identification of Kazakhs? What kind of development was triggered by the VLC in the Kazakh countryside and beyond, and what was the role of other, larger processes characteristic of the Soviet Union as a whole, in this transformation? I answer these questions in five chapters, which mirror the dimensions of the VLC. Chapter 1 proffers a lens of construction and planning to show how the VLC, on the one hand, laid the foundation for the radical improvement of the standard of rural living in Soviet Kazakhstan and, on the other, contributed to the preservation of customary means of existence in the Kazakh steppe. Chapter 2, which looks into a drive to boost livestock production in the Virgin Lands from 1957 onwards, introduces the earlier obscure players of the VLC, that is, stockbreeders and animals. Chapter 3 explores the Virgin Lands as an arena for social engineering efforts to build the internationalist society. Chapter 4 takes a closer look at one of the cultural identifiers, the Kazakh language. Chapter 5 considers the role of another cultural identifier, Kazakh literature, in legitimizing the VLC in the public eye.

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Meta data
Publishing Institution:IRC-Library, Information Resource Center der Jacobs University Bremen
Granting Institution:Jacobs Univ.
Author:Aliya Wedelich, née Tonkobayeva
Referee:Marc Frey, Corinna R. Unger, Marc Elie
Advisor:Marc Frey
Persistent Identifier (URN):urn:nbn:de:gbv:579-opus-1010117
Document Type:PhD Thesis
Language:English
Date of Successful Oral Defense:2020/11/27
Date of First Publication:2021/12/13
Academic Department:Social Sciences & Humanities
PhD Degree:History
Focus Area:Diversity
Other Countries Involved:Italy
France
Call No:2020/27

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