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Colonial Policy, Social Trust, and Economic Resilience: The Long-term Impacts of Imperial Russian Settlement in Southern Kazakhstan

Event Type
Department of Geography & GIS
Lecture Hall 2079 Natural History Buildubg
Sep 10, 2021   3:00 - 4:00 pm  
Nora Webb Williams, Department of Political Science, UIUC
This event is free and open to public
Department of Geography & GIS
Originating Calendar
Geography and Geographic Information Science

Social trust is a driver of many important political and economic processes and outcomes, including democracy and economic development. In this project, I ask two questions about social trust: How do colonial legacies shape social trust? And how does the level and type of social trust present in a community affect the resilience that community will demonstrate in the face of unexpected disasters? I address these two questions by analyzing the politics, economics, and history of Kazakhstan. Bringing to bear a wide variety of data sources, including historical records, surveys, images shared on social media, nighttime lights satellite imagery, and interviews, I find that geographic patterns of social trust in southern Kazakhstan are linked to Imperial Russian policy decisions about colonial settlement. In Almaty oblast (region), where 19th and early 20th century colonial settlement was relatively intense compared to neighboring Jambyl oblast and was coupled with higher rates of Kazakh land displacement, I find lower rates of social trust in formal state institutions in the early 21stcentury. Those social trust patterns also map on to variation in rural village resilience after the collapse of the Soviet Union. On average, communities in Almaty oblast, with lower vertical trust, were better able to rebound after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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