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LECTURE | Kazakh nomadic politics and the Russian Administration of the Steppe in the 1820s-30s

Kazakh Nomadic Politics

November 6, 2014

By Rachel Brown

Dr. Virgina Martin’s lecture about Kazakh nomadic political culture over the first ten years of Russian rule in the Middle Horde Kazakh Steppe was held in Thompson 317 at 1:30pm today.

Dr Martin presented her recent research which explores local political views and practices of service, loyalty and governance as she works to challenge the standard outdated nationalist and statist historiographies on resistance and bureaucratization of the Kazakhs during this period.

Her lecture expanded on original research done for her book Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism in the Nineteenth Century, published in 2001, by narrowing her focus to the 10 year period from 1822-1832 in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of  the way Russian rule was integrated into Khazakh societies. By exploring Khazakh concepts of service and loyalty to the Tsar in norms and in practice, and Kazakh perceptions of the Diwan, an alternate historical narrative centered around a broader contextual framework becomes possible.

Faculty and graduate students interested in meeting with Virginia personally while she is here may get in touch with Eric Johnson ( to coordinate

Dr Virginia Martin is an honorary fellow in Central Asian Studies at UW-Madison. Prior to this, she was project coordinator for the UW-Nazarbayev University project to prepare and present the recommendations of a UW-Madison team of consultants on curriculum, faculty, and facilities development issues in NU’s new School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Astana, Kazakhstan. Dr. Martin was a professor in the history department of the University of Alabama in Huntsville for 10 years and served as chief editor of the Central Eurasian Studies Review from 2001-5 and from 2007-09. Her Ph.D. is in history from the University of Southern California in 1996 and previously taught at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She is author of the book Law and Custom in the Steppe: The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian Colonialism in the Nineteenth Century (Curzon Press, 2001), which has recently been translated into Russian as Закон и обычаи в степи: Казахи Среднего жуза и российский колониализм в XIX в. (Almaty, 2012).


by Rachel Elizabeth Brown