Stalinist spatial hierarchies: placing the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in Soviet economic regionalization

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Central Asian Survey, ISSN: 0263-4937, Vol: 36, Issue: 1, Page: 73-92

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Informa UK Limited; Routledge
Social Sciences; Earth and Planetary Sciences; Stalinism; colonization; pastoral nomads; sedentarization; regionalization; History
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Based on research in Russian and Kazakhstani archives, this article investigates connections between policies of peasant colonization, the sedentarization of pastoral nomadic peoples, and the economic regionalization of the USSR. After analysing debates from the 1920s, and limited sedentarization among Kazakhs and Kyrgyz during collectivization, the article argues that only by focusing on the economic regionalization of Central Asia, which placed the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz in two different economic regions with dissimilar priorities, is it possible to explain the radically different outcomes of early Stalinist policies for similar pastoral peoples. The increased central control brought by the Stalinist Great Turn created a new spatial hierarchy directly connecting the bottom of the Soviet social and spatial pyramid, the livestock-breeding regions, to its top, the elite regime cities. The exclusion of the Kyrgyz ASSR from the massive livestock procurements that fed the Soviet political and industrial centres, and which led to the great famine in Kazakhstan (1931–33), can be explained by early Stalinist economic regionalization.