Photo project about the life of the Russian Kazakhs divided by the border with their ethnic country.
Kazakhs are the tenth largest indigenous community in Russia. According to the census of population in 2010, there were about 640,000 Kazakhs in Russia (about a million according to unofficial data). They live mainly in countryside (villages, auls) in the areas bordering with Kazakhstan: Astrakhan, Volgograd, Omsk, Saratov, Samara, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Kurgan, Novosibirsk regions, Altai Kray and Altai Republic. This is a huge area with a range of more than 7,000 kilometers. Their ancestors were nomads who lived here before the Slavic colonization, or who moved here during the time of the Russian Empire. Being already a settled people, Kazakhs moved to Russia in the late 1920s-early 1930s because of a forced collectivization and a hunger in Kazakhstan.
In connection with the collapse of the USSR and the formation of an independent state of Kazakhstan, an actual question about the Motherland had appeared to the Russian Kazakhs. Representatives of the Kazakh national cultural societies in Russia voiced a position the essence of which was that the Russian Kazakhs have two homelands: Russia as a place of birth and of permanent residence, and Kazakhstan as a historical homeland where their ethnic roots are. Despite the special resettlement program to Kazakhstan, the Russian Kazakhs migrated to their ethnic homeland in a small number. Some emigrants for various reasons returned to Russia. However, they consider it important to visit historical places, cultural centers, and places of pilgrimage in Kazakhstan. Such migrations happen all the time.
In their lives, the Russian Kazakhs give a great importance to the traditional rituals. These rituals do not look as those as a century ago. Forms of rituals are evolving, changing from generation to generation, or disappear entirely. But, on the one hand, there is a need for ritual arrangement of the main stages of life. On the other hand, there is a traditional scheme on which the rituals are based. Its basis is a ritual feast. Kazakhs reproduce the disappeared rituals and create the new ones in a traditional form.