Young People’s Perspectives on How ‘Zhuz’ and ‘Ru’ Clans Affect Them: Evidence from Three Cities in Post-Soviet Qazaqstan

Yerkebulan Sairambay


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, elites seeking political power in the newly independent Qazaqstan fostered the use of clan affiliations, such as ‘Zhuz’ and ‘Ru’, in order to develop a Qazaq identity. However, this change resulted in clan politics at both the elite and individual levels, which have become an integral part of today’s clan divisions in modern Qazaq society. The main purpose of this paper is to explore how contemporary young Qazaqs perceive Zhuz and Ru clan-based kinship divisions to affect them. The research objectives of this work are achieved through an extensive review of the relevant literature, as well as through a careful analysis of the outcomes of semi-structured interviews (n=20) and online surveys (n=200) with young people from Nur-Sultan, Aqtau, and Shymkent. This article finds that young Qazaqs perceive Zhuz and Ru clans mainly to affect them in terms of employment, marriage, and online media.


modern clans; Zhuz; Ru; clan-based divisions; Qazaqstan; Kazakhstan

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