In the twilight of two states: The ’German House’ in Tekmok, Kazakhstan

  • Rita Sanders Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Keywords: nationality policies, ethnic organization, Kazakhstan


The article investigates the nexus of minority group, ‘host-state’ and ‘homeland’ as well as exploring the organization of the German minority in Kazakhstan and how it is linked to the objectives of the two states. In this endeavour, the article takes a perspective from below and shows how people not only cope with contradictory state policies, but also how they creatively use state-given conditions for their own purposes. Though the Kazakhstani Germans, at a first glance, seem to comply with the ascribed role of being a minority within Kazakhstan, their activities often run contrary to the intended outcomes of the two states’ policies. The article focuses on ethnographic descriptions while embedding them in a broader discussion of nationality policies. The data presented here is based on a year-long fieldwork on the topic of German identity, which was conducted in the city of Tekmok, Kazakhstan in 2006–2007.