Staunton, September 15 – Most people believe that there are only two choices people in the post-Soviet states have as far as identity is concerned: a civic identity based on their citizenship in this or that country or an ethnic one based on their nationality. But the situation is far more complicated than that at least in some places.
That reality is highlighted by a Kazakhstan legal specialist’s proposal to give citizens of that country the chance to declare in their passports not only their ethnicity but also their clans, a measure of how important such sub-national identities remain there (zakon.kz/4742267-v-kazakhstane-predlagajut-po-zhelaniju.html andkazpravda.kz/rubric/obshchestvo/kazahstantsam-predlagaut-ukazivat-rodovuu-prinadlezhnost-v-pasportah/
There is no reason his proposal couldn’t be adopted, the legal specialist says. After all, Astana has established special rules for “persons of Kazakh nationality” to change their patronymics or family names to reflect the older national and clan traditions of using “uly” or “kyzy” rather than the Russian “-ich” and “-ova.”
It will be interesting to see whether Suleymanov’s proposal gains any traction in Kazakhstan, but it may be even more instructive to track whether it is taken up elsewhere. At least one site in Buryatia where clan traditions are strong has already given it prominent coverage, and more may follow (asiarussia.ru/news/9128/).