Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Gerald Creed

Committee Members

Katherine Verdery

Michael Blim

Bruce Grant

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


Central, Asia, Ethnicness, Germans, Intimacy, Labor, Property, Kinship, Post-Soviet, Territoriality


Civic nation-building as a concept has emerged within the political discourses of various post-Soviet states, particularly in relation to the status of ethnic minorities in Russia and Kazakhstan. This dissertation investigates the institutional efforts to establish civic nations in these states among their non-titular populations. My primary ethnographic sites are the various institutions producing and serving the discourse of civic nation-building to understand how the transmission of concepts and behaviors relevant to the civic nation operate in the context of daily interactions. I demonstrate the institutional dependence upon what I identify as “ethnicness” within the discourse and procedures of civic nation-building. My inquiry into this phenomenon largely takes place among communities with significant populations of people publicly identifying as ethnic German. I analyze this community and its members’ sense of “Germanness” as a case to understand how individuals from other ethnicized communities react and coalesce with the discourse and activities of civic nation-building. I generally conclude that attempts at civic nation-building are met with tremendous ambivalence. Yet, its discourse often resonates with the targeted audiences given its partial emergence from familiar Soviet ideas and practices. In addition, civic nation-building processes occasionally offer the distribution of valuable resources to those whom they engage.