June 30, 2022

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KAZAKH LIBRARY PROJECT–A BID FOR SOFT POWER

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BETH MCLAUGHLIN WRITES – Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s notorious          comment that “Kazakhs by no means had statehood” earlier than 1991, Kazakhstan has been decided to showcase and rejoice its lengthy and storied historical past.

Shortly after Putin’s 2014 feedback, President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced a 550th anniversary celebration of the Khanate, based in 1465. The celebration of the Khanate’s historical past and tradition continues 4 years later, with a undertaking from the Kazakh Nationwide Educational Library to advertise the nation’s literature on the 2017 World Expo.

The undertaking’s organizers coordinated with Kazakh embassies overseas to determine cultural facilities in choose nationwide libraries. The nation established 17 new facilities in 2016, and new ones proceed to quickly open. Facilities now exist in nations comparable to China, Finland, Hungary, and South Korea. Two facilities opened this 12 months in america, one on the New York Public Library, and the second on the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. Future plans for growth embody the UK, Iran, Bulgaria, and Azerbaijan.

The New York and D.C. facilities embody books in Kazakh, Russian, and English. The gathering options works about President Nazarbayev and his administration’s accomplishments, together with the development of the brand new capital, Astana, and the nation’s internet hosting of the 2017 World Expo, in addition to books authored by Nazarbayev himself.

Further works profile the nation’s historical past and tradition. Well-known Kazakh writers are represented, comparable to Mukhtar Auezov and Sabit Mukanov, in addition to well-known poets Abai, Shakarim and Zhambyl. Umitkhan Munalbayeva, founding father of the undertaking and head of the Kazakh Nationwide Educational Library, mentioned in an announcement for the Astana Instances that, “The books will at all times unite the peoples and continents.”

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In keeping with the 2017 Expo web page highlighting the initiative, the proliferation of the facilities are indicative of the “international curiosity rising round Kazakhstan, Kazakh language and tradition, in addition to Kazakhstan’s financial improvement mannequin.”

The initiative is just like the American Areas run by the U.S. Division of State. Typically hosted in libraries and different public websites, American Areas offers a platform for English language applications, expertise workshops, and information periods about america. The purpose is to extend understanding and construct bridges between america and the host tradition. Kazakhstan’s engagement in this sort of public diplomacy is indicative of its bid to extend its worldwide standing.

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