osmonova, kishimjan


Housing and Notions of Social Justice: Soviet Legacy and Present

Astana is Kazakhstan’s new fashionable modernist capital since 1997 where the number of internal migrants during the period of ten years almost tripled making it a ‘City of Migrants’ in addition to being referred by Kazakhs a ‘City of the Future’. This paper draws from ethnographic fieldwork conducted during 2009-2010 in Astana to get a deeper understanding of everyday lives of internal migrants in the new capital. The objective was to capture the imaginations of inhabitants in this new urban social milieu.   This paper addresses ‘Change and Continuity’ in terms of how social justice is interpreted in the light of housing shortage in Astana at present. Housing is the biggest challenge for internal migrants in Astana given the astronomical rental and housing prices. The current Kazakh government addresses the housing shortage in the new capital in a similar vein as the Soviet system did.  However Kazakhstan now struggles to find an acceptable balance between the forces of market economy with notions of competition on the one hand and the notions of welfare state and social justice on the other.

Individual competition is now widely accepted in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, where people rely on themselves to solve their problems. Nevertheless, housing is an issue where the Soviet ideas and beliefs about housing redistribution are strongly evoked. Astana’s new government elite enjoy privileged access to housing but internal migrants who want to be included in the Astana discourse of the modern and successful Kazakhstan have high hopes for the new housing as well. In the context of shortage of urban housing I look at various competing ideas about access and claims to housing and illuminate how old and new concepts co-exist and even generate new practices and norms on what constitutes social justice and equality in Kazakhstan today.

Friday 26 October 11.15-13:15 Panels VIII, Panel 21 Social Welfare and Well-Being: Problems and Challenges (Hall 8)