Robert Kindler: ‘New York in the Steppe’ - The Sedentarization of the Kazakh Nomads.


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2012. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 47-62.

The Bolsheviks believed that the bringing about the sedentariness of the Kazakh nomads would help to revolutionize the steppe and its people. Yet this and collectivization did not bring modernity to the Kazakh aul but famine, contagion and death. The utopia of ‘European villages’ in the steppe resulted in the nightmare of dull collective farms and more than 1,5 million deaths during the years of hunger. ‘Sedentarization’ and collectivization led to a demographic disaster and the collapse of Kazakhstan’s economy. Despite the ‘sedentarization’ campaign’s formal failure, the Bolsheviks had some reason to see it as a success. Besides the openly acclaimed economic goals, ‘sedentarization’ and collectivization were intended first and to gain tight control over the population of the steppe. Nothing proved to be more efficient in than this social catastrophe did. Famine and mass flight turned millions of people into uprooted and impoverished individuals who became objects of forced resettlements and were squeezed into collective farms by coercion. The Kazakhs became dependent on the state in a way they had never been before. This situation made leading communists change their minds: To some extent, nomadism became one possible way of life among others and an accepted method of production. ‘Soviet nomads’ could not elude the state’s control.

Über den Autor

Robert Kindler, M.A., geb. 1978 in Neindorf, 1998–2005 Studium der Neueren/Neuesten Geschichte, Politikwissenschaften und Kulturwissenschaften in Berlin und Voronež. 2006–2009 Bearbeiter eines Drittmittelprojekts zur Sesshaftmachung der kasachischen Nomaden am Lehrstuhl Geschichte Osteuropas an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Seit 2009 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter ebendort. Redakteur für Osteuropäische Geschichte bei H-Soz-u-Kult (
Veröffentlichungen u.a.:

  • Revolution in Russland, 1917–1921, Erfurt 2007 (mit Jörg Baberowski und Christian Teichmann)
  • Die Starken und die Schwachen. Zur Bedeutung physischer Gewalt während der Hungersnot in Kasachstan (1930–1934)«, in: Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 59 (2011), H. 1, S. 51–78
  • Auf der Flucht – Die kasachischen Nomaden und die Hungersnot von 1930–1934«, in: Matthias Middell/Felix Wemheuer (Hg.): Hunger, Ernährung und Rationierungssysteme unter dem Staatssozialismus (1917–2006), Frankfurt/M. 2011, S. 35–57.