"From Steppe to Stage: Racialization and the Making of the First Kazakh National Opera"
Lecture by Knar Abrahamyan
Chaired by Eugenia Lean
This talk examines racial politics in the creation and performance of the first Soviet Kazakh national opera, Kyz Zhibek (1934), by the Jewish-Russian composer Yevgeny Brusilovsky. It explores how the process of making the opera was informed by racialization whereby Brusilovsky ascribed pre-conceived notions of inferiority, such as metric inability and vocal difference, to Kazakh musicians. The presence of racialization in the so-called “soft power” realm of cultural production was intricately connected with veiled yet highly coercive political ends of the Soviet state—assimilation, subjugation, and erasure of Kazakh identity—with the aim of eliminating resistance to imperial domination.
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