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Challenging Colonial Power: Kazak Cadres and Native Strategies

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The paper brings into focus the mediating role of Kazak leaders in sustaining a feasible balance between the workings of Russian imperial and Kazak native structures. By placing the analysis in the pre-Soviet colonial context and involving the native perspective, the paper challenges the vision of colonialism as viewed from the coloniser's perspective. It argues that not imperial policies but the vicissitudes of everyday colonial practice had finally reshaped the relationship between the Russian coloniser and the Kazak colonised. As the paper shows, this framework enabled the latter to renegotiate the terms under which they could continue to make use of their tribal networks. Ultimately, these networks came to operate as a middle ground and a buffer zone that facilitated Kazak participation in imperial Russian and Soviet structures and, at the same time, proved instrumental in alleviating the devastating effects of central decision making.


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