The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Diana Kopbayeva
diana kopbayeva

Building the eternal nation: an exploration of discourses of the nation in Kazakhstan

Supervisors: Dr Anselma Gallinat and Dr Nick Megoran

My research contributes the existing scholarship on nation-building in Kazakhstan by arguing that Kazakhstan has employed a creative and at times contradictory mixture of civic and ethnic approaches to nation-building that is currently most clearly reflected in the notion of the ‘eternal nation’ introduced in 2014. This concept underlines the leading role of the Kazakhs whilst recognizing the equal rights of other ethnic groups in the envisioned multi-ethnic nation-state, which is simultaneously cast as existing from past through present into the never-ending future. To explain this type of discourse that merges civic and ethnic approaches to nation-building, this thesis suggests the term ‘civico-ethnic’, claiming that rather than exclusive categories, civic and ethnic models of nation-building often co-exist. The thesis has adopted a constructivist approach to the nation as demonstrated in works by Anderson (1991), Gellner (1983), and Hobsbawm & Ranger (1983), to illustrate how a small yet powerful elite can create the nation by producing discourses through government initiatives, projects and anniversaries. The thesis employs a combination of documentary research and discourse analysis to explore three nation-building projects in depth: school and university syllabi on national history; the notion of Eurasianism and the role and place for the nation-state this produces; and practices and discourses on Kazakh ancestry and the glorious past that support Mangilik El, the ‘eternal nation’.


  • Kopbayeva, D. (2012). ‘HOW TRANSNATIONAL MIGRATION CHALLENGES TRADITIONAL NOTION OF CITIZENSHIP’, Ekonomika, sociologiya i pravo: jurnal nauchnyh publikaciy (Economy, sociology and law: journal of academic publications,11, pp. 123-128
  • Kopbayeva, D. (2013). ‘Is Astana a nationalistic project? The role of Kazakhstan’s new capital in development of the national identity’, The European Scientific Journal Special edition, 2, pp. 800-813
  • Kopbayeva D. (2014) ‘Building the Kazakh nation: an exploration of the discourse of nation-building in Kazakhstan’ [Online]. Newcastle: Postgraduate Training Program, Newcastle University [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 22 March 2016)


  • Building the Kazakh nation: an exploration of the discourse of nation-building in Kazakhstan, Paper presented at 1st Year HASS conference ‘Illuminating Research' within Postgraduate Training Program, Newcastle University, 24 June, 2014.
  • Building the nation through history writing. The role of Genghis Khan, Paper presented at the Annual Nawruz Postgraduate Workshop on Central Asia: Spaces of Central Asia, Exeter, United Kingdom, 18-19 March, 2016.
  • Discussant ‘Memory, Imagination, and Media: Nation Making in KZ’, The 17th CESS Annual Conference held at Princeton University on November 3-6, 2016.
  • Presenter and panel chair on ANNUAL NAVRO'Z / NAWRUZ POSTGRADUATE WORKSHOP ON CENTRAL ASIA: ‘Contemporary Spaces of (Greater) Central Asia’, Newcastle University, UK, March 21-22, 2016.

Teaching: Sociology of Health and Illness

Qualifications and Achievements:

  • International scholarship ‘Bolashak’ of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for PhD program 2013
  • International scholarship ‘Bolashak’ of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for MA program 2010
  • Scholarship of the International Summer School of KIMEP (Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research) July-August/2012

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