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Nari Shelekpayev

Nari Shelekpayev's picture
Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures


Ph.D. History, Université de Montréal

M.A. Social Sciences, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

B.A. Political Science, Nankai University


I study the urban, cultural, and political history of the late Russian empire, the Soviet Union, and its successor states. I am working on two book-length projects at the moment. The first one is a political and urban history of Kazakhstan and its capital cities in the 20th century. It is also a comparative history of non-European states (based on the cases of Brazil, Canada, and Kazakhstan), which relocated or transformed their capital cities in the transition “from colony to nation” from the late 19th century onwards. My second project focuses on the history of Kazakhstan and the way its cultural forms and political systems have evolved and co-constructed one another under the Soviet rule. My future research will focus on the urban and cultural history of the late Soviet Union and its successor states and will adopt comparative and transnational perspectives. I am particularly interested in the genealogy and practices of Soviet and post-Soviet performance, the history of Eurasian music and soundscapes, and the cultures of resistance in contemporary Russia and Kazakhstan. I have published in Slavic Review, Russian Review, Kritika, Ab Imperio, Cambridge’s Urban History, Planning Perspectives, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, and other journals. Before coming to Yale, I taught Soviet and Eurasian history as well as urban and global history in the Department of History at European University at Saint Petersburg. Before Saint Petersburg I was a postdoctoral fellow at Sciences Po Paris, France and the Albert Einstein Fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany.

Current Book Projects:

Visible Power: the Invention of Capital Cities in Brazil, Canada, and Kazakhstan (1850-2000)

Arts of Subversion: Making Official Cultures in the Soviet Kazakhstan (1920-1950)

Journal Articles (selected):

“Soviet Cultures Between the Past and the Future” in N. Shelekpayev (ed.), in Rereading Soviet Cultures: The Russian Review at 80 (online),

“The Man Who Struck the Judge with a Fly Swatter: Justice and Performance in Contemporary Kazakhstan,” Slavic Review 80 (2), 2021, 363-382.

“Ottawa and the Making of Canada’s National Identity on the Eve of the Confederation,” Urban History, 2021,

“Rethinking Transfers of Power and Public Protest in the Soviet Kazakhstan, 1959-1989,” Europe-Asia Studies 74 (5), 2022, 857-871.

(With Aminat Chokobayeva), “Центральная Азия между ‘стратегическим эссенциализмом’ глобальных символов и ‘тактическим эссенциализмом’ националных нарративов,” The Russian Sociological Review 19 (3), 2020, 70-101.

“Whose Master Plan? Kisho Kurokawa and ‘Capital’ Planning in Post-Soviet Astana, 1995-2000,” Planning Perspectives 35 (3), 2020, 505-523.

“Capital Cities, Politics, and Urban Life in Central Asia, 1955 – 2017,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 21(2), 2020, 413-425.

“Говорить со стиснутыми зубами? Стыд, власть, и женское тело в современном Казахстане,” Новое Литературное Обозрение / Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie 161 (1), 2020, 157-174.

“Astana as Imperial Project: Kazakhstan and its Wandering Capital City in the 20th Century,” Ab Imperio 2018 (1), 157-189.

“Making Cities Great Again?,” Journal of Urban History 44 (3), 2018, 533-538.

FASSLA Slavic Languages and Literatures