Most of the photographs in this collection are from my fieldwork in Kazakhstan from 2009 to 2015. They include several images from the archives, as well as those of rural and urban life. My goal is to give a sense of the overlapping histories in Kazakhstan, where the Soviet past remains entranched in the present. Here you will find photographs of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, as well as the village of Koyan located on the test site  border and where I also work.    

Ethnic Kazakh women and children in a photograph likely taken at the turn of the 20th century. Date and author unknown (National Archive of Karaganda Oblast, Kazakhstan).

Celebrating 25 years of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Image printed in the "Socialist Karaganda" newspaper. November 18, 1945.

Village of Koyan in the distance. One of the many settlements bordering the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (or the Polygon) in Kazakhstan. Fall 2010.

Children playing soccer near the village of Koyan. Fall 2010.

Collecting hay near Koyan. Summer 2015.

Koyan men stacking hay on top of a barn roof. In winter, this hay will be used to feed cows, sheep, goats, and horses. Fall 2010.

Resting before another trip to the fields. Fall 2010.

Animals returning from pastures near Koyan. Fall 2010.

Koyan sheep. Spring 2011.

Billowing smoke from a fire burning near the village of Koyan. Fall 2010.

Although common in Kazakhstan, fires destroy animal pastures. Women carrying water drums toward the fire line. Fall 2010.

Large grass fires are notoriously difficult to put out. This one burned for more than a month traveling across the nuclear test site. Fall 2010.

Koyan men and women hitting the flames with sheepskins. Fall 2010.

Crater formed from an underground nuclear explosion. Summer 2015.

Inside the crater, a lake that formed after an underground nuclear explosion. Summer 2012.

Petroglyphs near Koyan showing what looks like a wolf, an arhar (wild mountain goat), and other animals. Fall 2010.

An arhar (wild mountain goat) observing from a distance. Fall 2010.

View from a summer kitchen in Koyan. Spring 2011.

Final 212

Cooking manty, traditional Kazakh dumplings, in a summer kitchen. Summer 2012.

Third grade lesson in Koyan. Fall 2010.

Searching for mumio in the rocky outcroppings near Koyan. No one is certain whether Mumio is an organic or an inorganic substance. After boiling it has a tar-like consistency. Mumio is believed to have medicinal properties. Fall 2010.

Preparing mumio. Fall 2010.

Koyan resident searching for wood in one of the abandoned Soviet-era winter farms. Spring 2011.

My attempt at playing the dombra, the traditional instrument of Kazakhstan. Fall 2010.

First snow in Koyan. November 2010.

View in the direction of the nuclear test site. November 2010.

Recently plowed winter road. Winter 2011.

Soviet-era stained glass at a museum in the Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology in the city of Kurchatov, the former administrative center for the atomic bomb project. Winter 2011.

Soviet-era stained glass at museum in the Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology in Kurchatov, the former administrative center for the atomic bomb project. Winter 2011.

The city of Kurchatov was once a closed and secret city during the Soviet era. It was known by many pseudonyms, one of them being "konechnaya," or the end of the railroad line.

Former and abandoned Committee for State Security (KGB) building in Kurchatov. Summer 2012.

Children playing in Kurchatov. Summer 2012.

Foam pad produced at the TechnoPark of Nuclear Technologies in Kurchatov. Winter 2011.

The Irtish River near the city of Semey (former Semipalatinsk). Summer 2015.

Memorial to the victims of nuclear testing in the village of Kainar. Summer 2012.

An atomic lake that formed after the Chagan test, an underground nuclear detonation. Summer 2012.

Earth mounds found around the Chagan crater. Summer 2012

Child holding a banner during one of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear protests in late 1980s.

View of Kazakhstan's capital Astana from a recently built beltway. Summer 2015.

Cycling team Kazakhstan in training. Summer 2015.

Kazakhstan's capital Astana, with modern buildings and the Baiterek (Tree of Life) monument in the distance. Summer 2015.

Baiterek (Tree of Life) monument model in the Atameken Ethno-Memorial Complex in Astana. Summer 2015.

Baiterek (Tree of Life) monument at night. Baiterek is also an observation tower and a popular tourist attraction. Astana. Summer 2015.

View from the Baiterek monument in Astana. Summer 2015.

Astana buildings. Summer 2015.

Another view of Baiterek. Summer 2015.

Khan-Shatyr shopping mall in Astana. Summer 2015.

Astana in winter 2011.

Copper mine near the city and lake Balkhash. Summer 2015.

Fishermen in Lake Balkhash. Summer 2015.

Tian Shan Mountains visible from the southern city of Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. Spring 2011.

Almaty Barakholka bazaar. Summer 2010.

Charyn Canyon near Almaty. Summer 2011.

Altai Mountains in eastern Kazakhstan. Summer 2009.

Soviet-era mural in Aksu, Kazakhstan showing workers building socialism. Summer 2015.

Close up of a Soviet-era mural in Aksu, Kazakhstan showing workers building socialism. Summer 2015.

Close up of a Soviet-era mural in Aksu, Kazakhstan showing workers building socialism. Summer 2015.

Soviet-era mural in Semey (former Semipalatinsk). Summer 2015.

Karaganda artist. Summer 2015.

Painting by a local Karaganda artist. Summer 2015.

© 2015 by Magdalena Stawkowski

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and content without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is prohibited

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