Monday, March 10, 2008

Concert poster politics?

Here's the deal when it comes to advertising cultural events in Almaty: if it's Kazakh music or theater, the posters for it will most likely be in the Kazakh language (the official "state language"). If it's ANY other kind of music or theater - European, Russian, Korean, German, etc. - the poster is always in Russian (the official "language of inter-ethnic communication").

In this photo, there are five posters (excluding the bottom left-hand corner) advertising events that are all related to the same "Plenum of the Composers' Union of Kazakhstan" -- but the one in the top right-hand corner is in Kazakh because the program is being performed by the Kurgmangazy Kazakh Folk Orchestra (see my earlier post about this).

You are probably asking me why this is true. Well, I'm kinda of asking myself the same thing -- my impression is that 1) the advertisers figure that only Kazakhs (and only those Kazakhs who speak Kazakh, which is not all of them) would be interested in such an event, OR 2) the advertisers, performers, and/or composers involved are intentionally excluding non-Kazakhs (or non-Kazakh speakers) from the event. Maybe option #2 isn't realistic, since why would they exclude a large part of the paying public? Perhaps government subsidies are somehow involved, maybe also intended to show (official) preference for Kazakhs and Kazakh-speakers?

ALSO, why wouldn't a non-Kazakh speaker be interested in Kazakh music or theater? Music doesn't require translation, and they have translation devices at the theaters - so what's stopping them from marketing to the (sizeable) non-Kazakh speaking portion of the Almaty population?

Ah, the never-ending cultural politics of formerly Soviet Central Asia...gotta love it.

1 comment:

beto dotô said...

hat's off to you for being able to read either languages! i just feel dyslexic...