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From Steppe to Stage: Racialization and the Making of the First Kazakh National Opera

Thursday Lecture Series

dateSeptember 29, 2022 timeThursday, 12:15pm–1:45pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Painting of four Kazakh women

The Society of Fellows hosts the Thursday Lecture Series (TLS), which runs regularly throughout the academic year. The Fall Semester TLS, our Fellows present their own work, chaired by Columbia faculty.

"From Steppe to Stage: Racialization and the Making of the First Kazakh National Opera"

Lecture by Knar Abrahamyan
Chaired by Eugenia Lean

This talk examines racial politics in the creation and performance of the first Soviet Kazakh national opera, Kyz Zhibek (1934), by the Jewish-Russian composer Yevgeny Brusilovsky. It explores how the process of making the opera was informed by racialization whereby Brusilovsky ascribed pre-conceived notions of inferiority, such as metric inability and vocal difference, to Kazakh musicians. The presence of racialization in the so-called “soft power” realm of cultural production was intricately connected with veiled yet highly coercive political ends of the Soviet state—assimilation, subjugation, and erasure of Kazakh identity—with the aim of eliminating resistance to imperial domination.

This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.