The last of the former Soviet republics to declare independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,Kazakhstan has spent the last two decades struggling to redefine its cultural identity. Despite sweeping economic and political reforms, the wounds left from nearly eighty years of repression, forced collectivization, starvation, and violence still haunt the country.
While for many younger Kazakhs this tumultuous past is nothing but a history lesson, the grandmothers of Kazakhstan have lived through the entire struggle for autonomy and independence. These babushkas bore witness to years of destruction and regeneration. The history of their homeland and the memories of the past are inextricably intertwined.