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Soviet and post-Soviet city planning: a case study from Almaty.

Alexander, C.



Through the case study of Soviet and post-Soviet Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan), this article considers how the idea of rational planning was bolstered in the Soviet era by a belief in universalizing approaches and the primacy of scientific truth over local ethics and knowledge. However, in practice, plans were rarely implemented. A succession of contingent events left city officials caught between an immediate necessity for basic shelter and grand plans for quite different futures. This also revealed the tension between rationality as the goal of harmony between man and nature, and rationality as the means to get there. Many citizens believed harmony had in fact been destroyed by statist intervention. The revolutionary logic — supposedly natural laws framing rationality — appeared again after the end of the Soviet period. This time, however, the inverse resulted. The emergence of the market was retrospectively rationalized through the bureaucratic form as an inescapable result of historical determinism.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2007-06
Deposit Date Sep 5, 2012
Journal Critique of Anthropology
Print ISSN 0308-275X
Electronic ISSN 1460-3721
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 2
Pages 165-182
Public URL