Mankurtism, monuments and marketing: Identity and power in post-Soviet contemporary art of Central Asia

Kasia Ploskonka
The following article will cover three contemporary notions of identity and power in Central Asia through the use of post-Soviet contemporary art studies. Case studies will consist of topical artworks on the thematics of mankurtism, monuments and marketing within post-Soviet Central Asia. The themes transition from what has been seen as an erasure of longstanding cultural tradition, language and lifestyle by Soviet colonisation, known as mankurtization in Chingiz Aitmatov's literary language.
more » ... iterary language. After which, crucial in the creation of memory, fostering allegiance and modern credence has been the indoctrination of new identities. Based on nation-building while still under the Soviets, propagandising through monuments has been an example of this. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, borders were drawn for the Central Asian Independents. Nation-building was already complete, having begun under the Soviets. What came next was a repurposing of existing tools by nation-branders left behind by the Soviets and the marketing of new identities both internally and internationally. The practice of nation-branding emerged in the mid 1990s, shortly after Central Asia's independence. Marketing of Central Asia was aimed at building internal and international identities which have been the product of public relations campaigns, as well as government and the elites' exercise in power. Despite the recent shared history of the region, post-independence growth has been uneven, due to the influence of geopolitics and the adoption of international models of state governance. My arguments will stem from the examination of several artist practices from different Central Asian countries coupled with their current political discourse. My aim is to show that complete identity erasure and reconstruction has not happened, but rather there has been a selective forgetting and privileging by the new elites in an attempt to solidify the importance of one's standing on an international platform.
doi:10.25501/soas.00024142 fatcat:xbebos25bbdh7nf2hb6ftmxqiq