International Development Planning Review

Profiteers or moral entrepreneurs? Bazaars, traders and development discourses in Almaty, Kazakhstan

International Development Planning Review (2015), 37, (3), 249–267.

Abstract

Drawing on recent ethnographic research, this article explores key aspects of contemporary discourses on the bazaar trade–development nexus in Kazakhstan. Wholesale traders at the Bolashak Bazaar in Almaty, part of the Barakholka bazaar agglomeration and one of the country’s largest markets, have forged particular practices and visions of entrepreneurial development over the last two decades. These have been impacted by state-imposed modernisation agendas and their underlying goals. Using an actor-centred approach, I show how trade entrepreneurs’ identities and social representation are challenged by statist developmentalism. However, I argue that traders also embrace a grassroots understanding of what socio-economic development should be like and thereby question the outcomes of seemingly utopian, state-led modernisation efforts on the ground. Through this focus it becomes apparent that the knowledge, aspirations and representations of actors in terms of social change constantly intersect, overlap and condition each other.

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NAZARBAEV, N. (1997), ‘Kazakhstan-2030’, available at: http://www.akorda.kz/ru/page/kazakhstan-2030_1336650228 (accessed 22 April 2015). Google Scholar

ÖZCAN, G. (2010), Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia Google Scholar

QAZAKSTAN ULTTYQ ENTSIKLOPEDIYASY (1999), ‘Bolashaq’ (Future), Almaty, 2, 364.Bolashaq 2 364 Google Scholar

ROBERTS, S. (2007), ‘“The dawn of the east”: a portrait of a Uyghur community between China and Kazakhstan’, in I. Beller-Hann (ed.), Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia, Aldershot, Ashgate, 203–17.“The dawn of the east”: a portrait of a Uyghur community between China and Kazakhstan Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia 203 17 Google Scholar

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SPECTOR, R. (2011), Protecting Property: The Politics of Bazaars in Kyrgyzstan, Ann Arbor, MI, Umi Dissertation Publishing.Protecting Property: The Politics of Bazaars in Kyrgyzstan Google Scholar

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THOMPSON, E. P. (1971), ‘The moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century’, Past & Present, 50, 76–136.The moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century Past & Present 50 76 136 Google Scholar

THOMPSON, E. P. (1991), Customs in Common, New York, NY, New Press.Customs in Common, New York, NY, New Press. Google Scholar

WORLD BANK (2009), ‘Bazaars and Trade Integration in CAREC Countries’ (report prepared by the World Bank), Washington, Dc, World Bank, available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTKAZAKHSTAN/Resources/SkeinsSilkBorderlessBazaarsBorder-TradecentralAsia_eng.pdf (accessed 18 October 2013). Google Scholar

YESSENOVA, S. (2006), ‘Hawkers and containers in Zarya Vostoka: how “bizarre” is the post-Soviet bazaar’, in N. Dannhäuser and C. Werner (eds), Markets and Market Liberalization: Ethnographic Reflections, Research in Economic Anthropology Series, 24, 37–59.Hawkers and containers in Zarya Vostoka: how “bizarre” is the post-Soviet bazaar Markets and Market Liberalization: Ethnographic Refections, Research in Economic Anthropology Series 24 37 59 Google Scholar

YÜKSEKER, D. (2004), ‘Trust and gender in a transnational market: the public culture of Laleli, Istanbul’, Public Culture, 16, 47–65.Trust and gender in a transnational market: the public culture of Laleli, Istanbul Public Culture 16 47 65 Google Scholar

AHRENDT, H. (1958), The Human Condition, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press.The Human Condition Google Scholar

ALEXANDER, C. (2007), ‘Soviet and post-Soviet city planning: a case study from Almaty’, Critique of Anthropology, 27, 165–82.Soviet and post-Soviet city planning: a case study from Almaty Critique of Anthropology 27 165 82 Google Scholar

ALFF, H. (2013), ‘Basarökonomie im Wandel: Postsowjetische Perspektiven des Handels in Zentralasien’ (The changing bazaar economy: post-Soviet perspectives of trade in central Asia), Geographische Rundschau, 65, 20–25.Basarökonomie im Wandel: Postsowjetische Perspektiven des Handels in Zentralasien Geographische Rundschau 65 20 25 Google Scholar

ALFF, H. (forthcoming), ‘Trading on change: bazaars and social transformation in the borderlands of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang’, in J. Zhang and M. Saxer (eds), The Art of Neighbouring, Chicago, IL, Chicago University Press.Trading on change: bazaars and social transformation in the borderlands of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang The Art of Neighbouring Google Scholar

ANGERMANN, M. (2006), ‘Zwischen Autozug und Drahtseilakt: Grenzüberschreitendes wirtschaftliches Handeln in Zentralasien dargestellt am Transithandelsmarkt Kara-Suu im Ferganatal’ (Between long vehicle and high-wire act: cross-border economic action in Central Asia as exemplified by the Kara-Suu Transit Trade Market in the Ferghana Valley) (MA Thesis, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin).Zwischen Autozug und Drahtseilakt: Grenzüberschreitendes wirtschaftliches Handeln in Zentralasien dargestellt am Transithandelsmarkt Kara-Suu im Ferganatal Google Scholar

BRUNO, M. (1997), ‘Women and the culture of entrepreneurship’, in M. Buckley (ed.), Post-Soviet Women: From the Baltic to Central Asia, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 56–74.Women and the culture of entrepreneurship Post-Soviet Women: From the Baltic to Central Asia 56 74 Google Scholar

DELEUZE, G. (1995), Negotiations, 1972-1990, New York, NY, Columbia University Press.Negotiations, 1972-1990 Google Scholar

FERGUSON, J. (1990), The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development”, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press.The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development”, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho Google Scholar

FORUM PREDPRINIMATELEY KAZAKHSTANA (2009), ‘Analiticheskiy otchet po polevym issledo-vaniyam proekta “Issledovanie voprosov chelnochnogo biznesa v Kazakhstane”’ (analytical report on field research within the project “Research of Issues of Suitcase Business in Kazakhstan”), Almaty, Forum Predprinimateley Kazakhstana.Analiticheskiy otchet po polevym issledo-vaniyam proekta “Issledovanie voprosov chelnochnogo biznesa v Kazakhstane” Google Scholar

HUMPHREY, C. (2002), ‘Traders disorder and citizenship in provincial Russia’, in C. Humphrey (ed.), The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies after Socialism, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 69–98.Traders disorder and citizenship in provincial Russia The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies after Socialism 69 98 Google Scholar

KAISER, M. (2005), ‘Cross-border traders as transformers’, in R. Kollmorgen (ed.), Transformation als Typ sozialen Wandels. Postsozialistische Lektionen, Historische und Interkulturelle Vergleiche (Transformation as a Type of Social Change. Post-Socialist Lessons, Historical and Inter-Cultural Comparison), Münster, LIT-Verlag, 191–213.Cross-border traders as transformers Transformation als Typ sozialen Wandels. Postsozialistische Lektionen, Historische und Interkulturelle Vergleiche 191 213 Google Scholar

KARRAR, H. (2013), ‘Merchants, markets and the state: informality, transnationality and spatial imaginaries in the revival of Central Eurasian trade’, Critical Asian Studies, 45, 459–80.Merchants, markets and the state: informality, transnationality and spatial imaginaries in the revival of Central Eurasian trade Critical Asian Studies 45 459 80 Google Scholar

KAZAKHSTANSKAYA PRAVDA (2011), ‘Krasnaya liniya arkhitektury vostochnykh bazarov’ (The red line of architecture of oriental bazaars), Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, 12 May, available at: http://kazpravda.softdeco.net/c/1305146814 (accessed 25 November 2013).Krasnaya liniya arkhitektury vostochnykh bazarov Kazakhstanskaya Pravda http://kazpravda.softdeco.net/c/1305146814 Google Scholar

KOCH, N. (2012), ‘Urban “utopias”: the Disney stigma and discourses of “false modernity”’, Environment and Planning A, 44, 2245–62.Urban “utopias”: the Disney stigma and discourses of “false modernity” Environment and Planning A 44 2245 62 Google Scholar

KOCH, N. (2013), ‘Bordering on the modern: power, practice, and exclusion in Astana’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tran.12031/full (accessed 20 February 2015). Google Scholar

LARUELLE, M. and PEYROUSE, S. (2012), The Chinese Question in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change and the Chinese Factor, New York, NY, Columbia University Press.The Chinese Question in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change and the Chinese Factor Google Scholar

LASZCZKOWSKI, M. (2011a), ‘Building the future: construction, temporality, and politics in Astana’, Focaal, 60, 77–92.Building the future: construction, temporality, and politics in Astana Focaal 60 77 92 Google Scholar

LASZCZKOWSKI, M. (2011b), ‘Superplace: global connections and local politics in the mega mall, Astana’, Etnofoor, 23, 85–104.Superplace: global connections and local politics in the mega mall, Astana Etnofoor 23 85 104 Google Scholar

LITER (2011), ‘Za bazaar otvetim’ (For the bazaar we are bearing responsibility), Liter, 16 April.Za bazaar otvetim Liter Google Scholar

LOMNITZ, L. and SHEINBAUM, D. (2004), ‘Trust, social networks and informal economy: a comparative analysis’, Review of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 10, 5–26.Trust, social networks and informal economy: a comparative analysis Review of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences 10 5 26 Google Scholar

MINISTERSTVO EKONOMICHESKOGO RAZVITIYA I TORGOVLI (2010), ‘Programma razvitiya torgovli v RK na 2010-2014 gody’ (Programme for trade development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the years 2010-2014), available at: http://www.minplan.gov.kz/economy-about/8433/35280/ (accessed 18 October 2013). Google Scholar

MINISTERSTVO KOMMUNIKATSII I TRANSPORTA (2011), Modernizatsiya i Rost Konkurrentnospo-sobnosti Ekonomiki Kazakhstana (Modernization and Increase of competitiveness of Kazakhstan’s Economy), Almaty, Qazaq entsiklopediyasy.Modernizatsiya i Rost Konkurrentnospo-sobnosti Ekonomiki Kazakhstana Google Scholar

NASRITDINOV, E. and O’CONNOR, K. (2010), Regional Change in Kyrgyzstan. Bazaars, Cross-Border Trade and Social Networks, Saarbrücken, Lambert Academic Publishing.Regional Change in Kyrgyzstan. Bazaars, Cross-Border Trade and Social Networks Google Scholar

NAZARBAEV, N. (1997), ‘Kazakhstan-2030’, available at: http://www.akorda.kz/ru/page/kazakhstan-2030_1336650228 (accessed 22 April 2015). Google Scholar

ÖZCAN, G. (2010), Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia Google Scholar

QAZAKSTAN ULTTYQ ENTSIKLOPEDIYASY (1999), ‘Bolashaq’ (Future), Almaty, 2, 364.Bolashaq 2 364 Google Scholar

ROBERTS, S. (2007), ‘“The dawn of the east”: a portrait of a Uyghur community between China and Kazakhstan’, in I. Beller-Hann (ed.), Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia, Aldershot, Ashgate, 203–17.“The dawn of the east”: a portrait of a Uyghur community between China and Kazakhstan Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia 203 17 Google Scholar

SADOVSKAYA, Y. (2012), ‘The dynamics of contemporary Chinese expansion into Central Asia’, in F. Chang and S. Rucker-Chang (eds), Chinese Migrants in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, London and New York, NY, Routledge, 85–105.The dynamics of contemporary Chinese expansion into Central Asia Chinese Migrants in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe 85 105 Google Scholar

SCOTT, J. (1976), The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia, New Haven, CT, and London, Yale University Press.The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia Google Scholar

SCOTT, J. (1998), Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, New Haven, CT, and London, Yale University Press.Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed Google Scholar

SIK, E. and WALLACE, C. (1999), ‘The development of open-air markets in East-central Europe’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23, 697–714.The development of open-air markets in East-central Europe International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 23 697 714 Google Scholar

SPECTOR, R. (2008), ‘Bazaar politics: the fate of marketplaces in Kazakhstan’, Problems of Post-Communism, 55, 42–53.Bazaar politics: the fate of marketplaces in Kazakhstan Problems of Post-Communism 55 42 53 Google Scholar

SPECTOR, R. (2011), Protecting Property: The Politics of Bazaars in Kyrgyzstan, Ann Arbor, MI, Umi Dissertation Publishing.Protecting Property: The Politics of Bazaars in Kyrgyzstan Google Scholar

STADELBAUER, J. (1987), ‘Kolchozmärkte in Großstädten der südlichen Sowjetunion’ (Kolkhoz markets in the cities of the southern Soviet Union), Erdkunde, 41, 1–14.Kolchozmärkte in Großstädten der südlichen Sowjetunion Erdkunde 41 1 14 Google Scholar

TENGRINEWS (2012), ‘Nazarbaev posetil MTsPS khorgos na granitse s Kitaem’ (Nazarbaev visits IcBc at the border with China), Tengrinews, 26 May, available at: http://tengrinews.kz/markets/nazarbaev-posetil-mtsps-horgos-na-granitse-s-kitaem-214796/ (accessed 18 October 2013). Google Scholar

THOMPSON, E. P. (1971), ‘The moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century’, Past & Present, 50, 76–136.The moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century Past & Present 50 76 136 Google Scholar

THOMPSON, E. P. (1991), Customs in Common, New York, NY, New Press.Customs in Common, New York, NY, New Press. Google Scholar

WORLD BANK (2009), ‘Bazaars and Trade Integration in CAREC Countries’ (report prepared by the World Bank), Washington, Dc, World Bank, available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTKAZAKHSTAN/Resources/SkeinsSilkBorderlessBazaarsBorder-TradecentralAsia_eng.pdf (accessed 18 October 2013). Google Scholar

YESSENOVA, S. (2006), ‘Hawkers and containers in Zarya Vostoka: how “bizarre” is the post-Soviet bazaar’, in N. Dannhäuser and C. Werner (eds), Markets and Market Liberalization: Ethnographic Reflections, Research in Economic Anthropology Series, 24, 37–59.Hawkers and containers in Zarya Vostoka: how “bizarre” is the post-Soviet bazaar Markets and Market Liberalization: Ethnographic Refections, Research in Economic Anthropology Series 24 37 59 Google Scholar

YÜKSEKER, D. (2004), ‘Trust and gender in a transnational market: the public culture of Laleli, Istanbul’, Public Culture, 16, 47–65.Trust and gender in a transnational market: the public culture of Laleli, Istanbul Public Culture 16 47 65 Google Scholar

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Alff, Henryk