Abigail Scripka

Kazakh Baqsy, Kumalakshi and Tengrism in Perestroika-era Kazakhstan

Kazakh Baqsy, Kumalakshi and Tengrism in Perestroika-era Kazakhstan
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This project will examine Tengrism, a Nomadic Turko-Mongolic religion in Kazakhstan during Perestroika. The 1980s were tumultuous for Kazakhstan as the development of identity and autonomy, outrages such as the 1986 Zheltoqsan uprising in reaction to the removal of ethnic Kazakh Kunaev from power and being replaced with an ethnic Russian highlights the importance of Kazakh-ness during this period. Entangled with modern Kazakh-ness, Tengrism finds itself at the forefront of conversations when defining what it means to be Kazakh. Through oral testimonies with baqsy (Tengrist and Kazakh shamans) and Kumalakshi (Tengrist and Kazakh Fortune Tellers) across Kazakhstan, archival research and media analysis, this project will piece together the rise of Tengrism as a part of modern Kazakh identity along with understanding the context of different religions in the Soviet Union. Research will be conducted in Russian, Kazakh, and English and will cover, hopefully, all the regions of Kazakhstan via oral reportage. The project will also include video and photographic work to help further conceptualise these practices and history.

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