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Shara Zhienkulova as the “femina Sovietica”. Emanicipation in Stalinist Kazakhstan

This article explores the potential of the Kazakh “model woman” narrative in the context of the socio-cultural perspectives of Stalinism in traditional oriental societies. In her well-written memoirs, Shara Zhienkulova, founder of the Kazakh dance school, reconstructs personal accounts of the Bolshevik cultural modernization project, through the introduction of new cultural practices and her own hard-won battle for a place in the new Soviet culture. We argue here that while her body served the regime as a kinesthetic mediator for the projected ideological imperatives to be oriented on European style – in the Soviet manner – her soul and mind remained (as containers of personal and ethnic memory) ethnic Kazakh in nature. Through her memoirs Shara Zhienkulova intended to leave not only a name but also a voice in the Kazakh culture, recounting the inner world and thoughts of subaltern women.

By Didar Kassymova and Elmira Teleuova No Comments on Shara Zhienkulova as the “femina Sovietica”.