Russian Immigration and its Effect on the Kazak Steppes, 1552–1965

  • Rebecca W. Wendelken


The history of the Kazak steppes is primarily a story of the relationship between the nomad and the settled. Sometimes the interaction was peaceful. More often it was not, as the two groups struggled over how to utilize the vast steppelands. The arrival of Russian peasants had an enormous impact on the modern history of the Kazak steppes. Their movement into Asia has been compared to the western expansion of America—a sort of Russian “manifest destiny.”1 Like Americas, Russia’s frontier region already contained numerous peoples with a variety of economic cultures, ranging from nomadic to settled farmer.2 Beginning in the late nineteenth century, waves of settlers from European Russia immigrated to the Kazak steppes.3 Their motivations for this perilous journey were simple—land and freedom.4 But the land was occupied. Russia came to see these nomadic peoples as obstacles in the path of settlement and later as her own “white man’s burden.” At that point Russia, like other imperialistic European powers, succumbed to the apparently inescapable urge to remold the Kazaks in a European image and make them into agricultural peasants. This urge, which continued into the Soviet period, dramatically altered Kazak society, culture, and economy.


Rural Economy Soviet Period Soviet Republic Population Redistribution Kazak Population 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Andrew Bell-Fialkoff 2000

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  • Rebecca W. Wendelken

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