THE MICROPOLITICS OF ETHNICITY. CELEBRATIONS OF SPRING FESTIVAL NAWRIZ IN POST-SOVIET KAZAKHSTAN (Mikropolityka etnicznosci. Obchody wiosennego swieta Nauryz w postsowieckim Kazachstanie)
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The ethnic politics of the state government in post-Soviet Kazakhstan is marked by two main trends. One puts stress on special role and privileges of the titular ethnic group - the Kazakhs, while the other emphasizes the idea of agreement and cooperation between different ethnic groups in this multi-ethnic society. In this article thw authoress presents the old spring festival of Iranian, Zoroastrian origin, Nawriz, which has become one of the central post-Soviet official celebrations in Kazakhstan, as well as in the other Central Asian countries, and is popular among the wide public as a holiday of joy, goodness, blessings and entertainment. This occasion is particularly interesting as an event which reflects both contradictory trends in the state ethnic politics. Nawriz celebrations in big cities, like Almaty, are a forum for promoting consensus between different ethnic groups, and the festival is presented as a secular event and a vehicle of universal values that appeal to all people irrespective of nation, religion, gender or age. However, the other features of Nawriz are stressed during its celebrations in the rural setting of southern Kazakhstan. In those Kazakh-dominated regions Nawriz has attained the status of the most important national Kazakh holiday and, moreover, it has come to be strongly identified with an Islamic heritage. The same festival in different social and ethnic contexts manifests different and even contradictory meanings and functions, and can be used for different purposes connected with ethnic interests and state politics.
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