Why not a world city? astana, ankara, and geopolitical scripts in Urban networks

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43 Scopus citations


The world cities literature typically examines how and why certain cities achieve world city status, but this article examines why some actors eschew the world city competition and choose not to engage the discourse, despite deploying the very same urban development tactics. Through a case study of Astana, Kazakhstan's new capital city, I argue that state-and nation-building concerns in the era of independence have prevailed over interests in engaging the free market and liberalist narratives that accompany the world cities discourse. Demonstrating how the Nazarbayev regime has largely modeled its Astana project on Atatürk's development of Ankara, I jointly examine geopolitical discourses that shape how the relationship between the two cities is narrated and interpreted by elite and ordinary citizens alike. Drawing on data from interviews, focus groups, and participant observation conducted in Kazakhstan from 2009-2011, I demonstrate how these identities support the Nazarbayev regime's state-dominated economic arrangements much more effectively than could a neoliberal world cities script.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-130
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Kazakhstan
  • Turkey
  • capital city
  • comparative urbanism
  • geopolitics
  • world cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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