Identity and development: Kazakhstan’s transformation from recipient to donor of development assistance
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In recent years, re-emerging development actors are said to be changing, and even challenging, the international aid landscape. This thesis examines how Kazakhstan, an authoritarian, post-Soviet state, has formulated its policy of official development assistance (ODA) and performed its identity as a donor. The thesis argues that Kazakhstan’s donor identity and ODA policy are constructed through discursive encounters of development between Kazakhstani state actors and representatives of the international development community. To advance this argument, it examines Kazakhstan’s transformation from recipient to donor during the period 1991–2017. The thesis both applies and extends Hansen’s post-structuralist framework of the mutual constitution of state identity and policy to Central Asia and the policy area of ODA. In doing so, it contributes to the literature in two ways: empirically, it adds an in-depth case study of an authoritarian post-Soviet state to the growing literature on emerging donors and the ongoing changes in the development aid landscape. It also extends the scholarly debate about the relationship between identity and policy as well as the role of international actors in policymaking in Kazakhstan. The thesis answers two main research questions: How has Kazakhstan, an authoritarian, post-Soviet state, been constructed as a donor of development aid? In this process, how is development represented, negotiated and contested by the actors involved? The research questions are answered by applying discourse analysis to official documents and media articles from both Kazakhstani and international sources, as well as 30 interviews carried out during fieldwork in 2014 and 2016. Three key encounters with the international development community are found to be shaping Kazakhstan’s transformation: First as an aid recipient, then as an aspiring donor seeking membership of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and finally as a donor partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide and institutionalise ODA. The thesis concludes that Kazakhstan’s ODA policy, in contrast to those of other emerging donors, largely concerns the country’s linkage to and recognition by established development actors, the DAC and the UNDP, as its main Others instead of the recipient countries, the Kazakhstani public or civil society. Through its close linkage to the DAC and the UNDP, Kazakhstan’s donor identity and ODA policy have reaffirmed the authority of these established actors.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2025-05-19
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 19th May 2025
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