Thu 12 March 2015 | WHAT's NEW?! | Politics of Urban Renewal in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan | Elena Paskaleva | Leiden University

On Thursday 12 March 2015, Elena Paskaleva delivered a lecture on the politics of urban renewal in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the lecture series "WHAT's NEW?! Current Research on Islam and the Middle East."


Urban renewal in Central Asia can be analysed as a visual protagonist of the nationalistic rhetoric. After their independence in 1991, the post-Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been trying to assert their national identity through major building activities. The lecture discussed the latest urban renewal developments in Astana - the newly created capital of Kazakhstan - and in Tashkent - the century-old Uzbek capital. Political and cultural elites of both countries have sought inspiration in the material legacy of their powerful ancestors. While Kazakhstan has developed its ethno-nationalistic discourse around the figure of Genghis Khan, Uzbekistan has propagated Tamerlane as the epitomy of Uzbek national identity. As a result, the urban renewal projects manifest architectural and design elements of local architectural heritage combined with modern technologies. The new constructions range from high-rise governmental buildings to mosques and religious compounds. The style is eclectic. Although the majority of earlier projects were carried out by local artisans and architects, there is a tendency in the last couple of years to open the state commissions to foreign companies and acclaimed architects such as Kisho Kurokawa and Norman Foster. State assets are being used for creating the new image of independent Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as a reliable business partner on a global scale.

Elena Paskaleva

Elena Paskaleva (PhD 2010, Leiden) works on Timurid architecture. At present she is a post-doctoral researcher on Central Asia at Leiden University. In 2014 she was an associate at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the history and socio-political importance of Timurid architectural heritage and material culture in present-day Uzbekistan.


WHAT's NEW?! is a lecture series organised by LUCIS and the department of Middle Eastern Studies. The lecture series focuses on current research on Islam and the Middle East.

Last Modified: 20-04-2015