Bordering on the modern: Power, practice and exclusion in Astana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


State-led urban development projects, especially in non-democratic settings, are conducive to a top-down analytic that focuses on state planners and architects. The goal of this article is to explore how we might decentre this narrative and jointly consider elite and non-elite narratives, through an analysis of discourses of modernity as enacted in and through these statist urban projects. Deploying a practice-based analytic, I explore how notions of 'modernity' are performed and enacted through the exclusionary practices of elites and non-elites alike. Taking the case of Kazakhstan's new capital city, Astana, I examine how the state-led urban modernisation agenda simultaneously draws upon and re-inscribes a set of interlocking popular geographic imaginaries (Soviet/modern, urban/rural, north/south), and demonstrate how ordinary citizens are not just passive spectators, but active participants in the political drama of state- and city-building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-443
Number of pages12
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Bordering
  • Capital city
  • Kazakhstan
  • Modernity
  • Practice turn
  • Urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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