What do Turkmens think of Kazakhs?
Why being late has become part of Kazakh culture
The Kazakh culture hides some peculiarities. But where do habits come from that have been cultivated for generations? Finally we learn why people are usually late in Kazakhstan and why we should treat SUVs as a cultural phenomenon. The TurkologistAımanKodar has done research on this topic and with Caravan.kz talked about their results. We translate the article with the kind permission of the editors.
The scientist Geert Hofstede has developed criteria for cultural characteristics. There are several levels. The first is the obvious level. In Kazakhstan, when we leave the airport, it immediately catches the eye ... a large number of jeeps. When I was studying in Turkey I saw that they mainly use compact cars which are popular in many countries around the world. I didn't realize before that this was part of our culture. Our country is an oil producing country, gasoline is cheap - it is possible to have jeeps. Not every country can afford it.
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The second criterion for Hofstede are rules and regulations. We are talking about our great Kazakh uyat, which has already become a parable in pagan times.
What is the norm anyway? It's what is accepted in society. If you don't do something - you will be scolded, ridiculed, or your behavior will surely be corrected. If there is one norm in Amsterdam, there is another here - this is determined by each culture itself. If this does not happen, the culture loses its identity and it remains without its own appearance.
Three magic words
Once, when I was giving a lecture at Al-Farabi University in Almaty, one of the listeners said (and I agree with her) that we have three components to our Kazakh upbringing: the first is Uyat, the second is Obal, and the third is Sauap.
Uyat, as you know, is shame. By Obal, we mean a wasted resource. And finally, Sauap - the belief that if you've done someone good, you will definitely get credit for it. These are three magic words for raising children. They are an indicator of our mentality. The Kazakhs are a people who know the price of conscience, who try to distribute resources wisely, and who earn their living with karma.
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Another sign of the manifestation of culture is contextuality. There are peoples for whom the context is important, which means they have to use a lot of words.
The Japanese are the most contextual people, they will never say no to you even if they disagree. For example, the Russians speak clearly and specifically about one case. Each nation is also more or less open to the other. If one compares the Kazakhs and the Japanese, it turns out that the latter are a rather eastern nation. We are more straightforward compared to them, but when we compare ourselves to the Germans we seem more tactful than them.
The right to be late
Another important point that is captured by culture is the attitude towards space or territoriality. When a person has high territoriality, he keeps his limits and does not allow anyone near him. With us Kazakhs one can speak of a low territoriality. The roads of the Silk Road ran through our country, our living space was always open, the steppe was extensive. We ourselves had to split up in the room.
Why is a Kazakh woman late? For him or her, space is more important than time - space dominates. The transition to Jailau (dt. Alm - pastureland, on which the Kazakh nomads keep their cattle in summer - editor's note), the so-called Kokteu (i.e. the resettlement in spring - editor's note) took place at a specific one Time instead. But people didn't even notice them because they lived so much fused with nature.
With us, time lies in an unconscious channel
So it simply comes from our historical way of life: Even if we no longer ride horses or live in yurts, everything has become a great simulacrum (from the Latin simulacrum - “image” of “pretend to pretend”) and a pleasant memory developed, but the mentality remains. And in this mentality we still have the same attitude at the moment. Time is with us in an unconscious channel and we don't worry about it because it has no value. There are peoples for whom it is of value: they always have to be on time. You feel your own culture particularly strongly when you meet someone else. It may be that one person (from another culture) does not understand that the other (Kazakh) person has the right to be late, for example.
With us you can be late and apologize and everyone will understand. A paid parking lot recently emerged. Do you remember how people got upset? It seemed ridiculous to her to pay for time.
I found another interesting connection: agricultural peoples develop spatial arts, while our nomads prefer temporary arts such as music, word.
Male versus female
This may not be obvious to some people, but we live in a male society where success, wealth, power and of course showing off are important. But believe me, it can be different.
In female societies, comfort is important and how much you realize yourself as a person is important. There every person is unique, individual, and you have to appreciate him as he was born, with all his abilities and qualities.
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For us it's more about the money
Turkey, for example, is a female society - service, restaurants and hotels are well developed. For us, it's more about status, about money, but a person's comfort is not important as long as they are doing well.
Weakness is not encouraged, and neither is expressing feelings in public. In male societies competition dominates and conflicts are often resolved by scandals, while female societies always try to smooth things over.
Strong collective thinking is one of our cultural idiosyncrasies. The roots of this phenomenon can be found again in the steppe.
As my father, the writer and philosopher Aýezhan Kodar, wrote is “The steppe […] the Dominance of space over the point ”. You cannot survive alone in the steppe. "
Gatchev also noted that it is impossible to settle in a tent near the yurt. You are either our guest and we let you in as a local or you are our enemy who was left to die in the steppe in front of the yurt.
Hence this collectivism, which we have in common, comes from. We have not appropriated this space. He is our common, we do not abandon each other. What matters to us is the opinion of the group. We are not encouraged when someone falls out of the pattern - everyone is clearly doing their job, then the pattern will work. This structure was formed by the ancient Turkic peoples - now we can move on to other mental constructions, but people pass them on from generation to generation. It seems right to them because it has always been that way. No matter how many Kazakh black sheep I see, society usually doesn't care about them.
The principle of survival
Societies can be vertical and horizontal. For example, we cannot go to an official and ask something of him, as in America, where society is horizontal and flat and the boss listens to others.
In general, the principle of hierarchy is very strong in more eastern societies, at least in the Arab, Chinese, Japanese and Turkish worlds. But with the existence of the hierarchy there is the problem that the lower layers cannot reach the upper layers, there is no communication. When society is flat, you can see everything there. And with a vertical structure, the above can't see what's going on down there, it's like a deaf phone.
Why do we have a positive and respectful attitude towards the hierarchy? It was a principle of survival: in the past, if we did not have a strong leader that people would follow, they would not survive in the steppes.
Don't lose your own culture in the process of globalization
Today our society is in the process of globalization. Your image will change a little, but the main thing is that we do not get lost again in this process. We need to be aware of the things that rule us in order to rethink their legacy. We can be more flexible to keep up with modernity. I am very supportive of this, which is why I looked at my father's magazine - «Tamyr». I understand that his main message is to hear and understand the other, to give that other the right to exist, to be tolerant, and to establish a dialogue.
Yes, we would like to shine brightly, but there are also modest societies. What is their essence and how they exist is very interesting.
I am in favor of people from different cultures understanding one another and listening to one another. I hope that our magazine and my father's intellectual club can contribute to international dialogue.
The conversation with Aıman Kodar ledMarina Hegaı, Editor for Caravan.kz
Translated from the Russian by Hannah Riedler
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