logoBy Allen Ruff and Steve Horn. On December 16, 2011, Kazakhstan state security forces opened fire on striking oil workers in the Caspian Sea company town of Zhanaozen. According to the official count, 15 died and upwards of 70 were wounded (unofficial casualty counts ran much higher). Jailings and repression of critics and political opponents of the regime have continued since. The “Zhanaozen Massacre” seemingly went unnoticed by the Western faculty members and administrators working at the recently opened Nazarbayev University, located in the country’s ostentatious new capital, Astana. Opened in 2010, the mutli-billion dollar showcase university came about through a joint venture involving the country’s authoritarian regime under “Leader of the Nation,” Nursultan Nazarbayev, the World Bank, and a number of major—primarily U.S.—“partnering” universities.
As a result of deals shaped and brokered by the World Bank in 2009 and 2010, scores of academics flocked to the resource-rich, strategically located Central Asian country. They remain there despite the fact that every major international human rights monitor has cited the regime for its continuing abuse of civil liberties and basic freedoms. In the process, Kazakhstan has become a proving ground for the World Bank’s “education reform” efforts and a revealing case study of the deep-seated “soft power” workings of the U.S. imperial order. Read more...