Based on ethnographic research with contemporary artists and galleries in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Nauruzbayeva traces the ways in which the Soviet-era notions of art as a public good are transforming into art as a private commodity. In the process of renegotiating the loss of the former state sponsorship and recruiting private consumers for their art, Kazakhstani visual artists challenge the notion of the market as an inevitable force that emerges out of the self-interest of market players.

After independence the Uzbek government maintained a monopoly over ideology, exploiting the remaining Soviet institutional and cultural legacies. The state expressed national identity through tightly controlled mass spectacles, including theatrical and musical performances. Adams focuses on these events, particularly the massive outdoor concerts the government staged on the two biggest national holidays, Navro’z, the spring equinox celebration, and Independence Day. Her analysis of the content, form, and production of these ceremonies shows how Uzbekistan’s cultural and political elites engaged in a highly directed, largely successful program of nation building through culture.

Please note that seating for this event is available on a first come, first served basis. Please call on the day of the event to confirm. Please bring an identification card with a photograph (e.g. driver's license, work ID, or university ID) as part of the building's security procedures.

The Kennan Institute speaker series is made possible through the generous support of the Title VIII Program of the U.S. Department of State.


  • Laura Adams

    Lecturer, Sociology Department, and Director, Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus, Harvard University
  • Zhanara Nauruzbayeva

    Post Doctoral Fellow, Harriman Institute, Columbia University