Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Director of Thesis

Dr. Judith Kalb

Second Reader

Dr. Magdalena Stawkowski


This thesis examines the link between language policy and national identity in Kazakhstan, tracing the relationship between the two across history and describing how they have been affected by the Ukraine War. The Kazakh government has put considerable effort into developing a national identity for contemporary Kazakhstan, but conflicting standards of production make it difficult for a cohesive, well-defined Kazakh national identity to be put forth. Through qualitative and quantitative analyses, phenomenological critical discourse analysis, and ethnographic research, this thesis strives to alleviate existing gaps in Central Asian studies research while arguing that language policy is a lens through which researchers can study the production of national identity in post-colonial and post-Soviet states. I begin with an exploration into the historical forms of Kazakh identity and their connection to the Kazakh language before examining the impact of Soviet language and nation-building processes on the production of Kazakh national identity. I then analyze the ways that the Ukraine War, and more specifically, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, have impacted contemporary language and nation-building policies on both the political and social levels, using ethnographic research conducted in Kazakhstan in July 2023 to investigate their impact on the average person in Kazakhstan.

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