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Contesting public spheres: "discussion clubs" in Kazakhstan between politics, science and Islam

Dina Wilkowsky

The project looks at the Discussion Clubs in contemporary Kazakhstan as a public institution that gives citizens an opportunity to discuss political and social processes and to represent their interests in relation to state policy. It aims to determine both local conditions, which lead to the emergence of Discussion Clubs within the local society, and factors promoting their innovative dynamics as a new form of intellectual communication. Through the comparative analysis of their strategies and value concepts, the project will examine media spheres and methods of presentation, which people are using to spread their ideas about the political and cultural development of the country. Another interest of this investigation is how the Clubs view the current transformations taking place in Kazakhstan and the extent to which they are able to create a local network that can influence political decisions and religious changes. The research, based on empirical data and comparative reflections, is intended to contribute to the scholarly debates, not only in identifying political and spiritual dynamics in the post-Soviet realm, but also in understanding tensions arising in public spheres - between the local, the national, and the global, between past and present, and between external and internal impacts.