Destruction of Kazakh Economic Institutions and the Collapse of Political Institutions under the Tsar

Event Format
In person
CGIS South, S354, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Professor Christopher Hartwell (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) will examine the interplay of economic and political institutions in Kazakhstan of the 19th century under Tsarist imperial oppression. The event will be held in person and requires registration. Hosted by the Program on Central Asia.

Economists posit that there is a hierarchy of institutions, with political institutions determining the distribution of economic resources and founding economic institutions. However, previous research in this vein has shown that economic institutions have a profound effect on the shape of political institutions in the long run. Discussing a thousand years of property rights understanding in the Kazakh lands, Hartwell examines the effects that Russian colonialism had in, first, destroying indigenous property rights and second, the effects that this had on nascent Kazakh political institutions. In particular, he finds that the nomadic and frontier economic institutions of the Kazakh way of life fostered decentralized political institutions unmoored from static geographic boundaries. The centralization and imperium of Russian rule in eradicating Kazakh economic institutions thus exposed the political institutions as inadequate to a modern Eurasian state conception, making them easier to be co-opted into the Russian imperial grasp.


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