Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Cheryl L. Duckworth

Second Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Third Advisor

William C. Clark


conflict resolution, cultural survival, ethnography, indigenous systems, Kazakh, restorative justice


Advocates of restorative and transitional justice practice have long drawn from practices of indigenous peoples to form the basis for more sustainable, relational, participatory, community-based approaches to conflict resolution. With the resurgence in Kazakh nationalism since the Republic of Kazakhstan independence, repatriated diasporic Kazakhs, who through cultural survival in diaspora retain more of their ethno-cultural characteristics, influence a revival of Kazakh language and culture. The purpose of this study was to understand the indigenous informal restorative conflict resolution practices of the Kazakh people. The questions that drove this study were: What indigenous informal forms of dispute resolution have been in use among Kazakhs, as reflected in their folklore and proverbs; which have continued in use among diasporic semi-nomadic Kazakh populations; and, which, if any, are restorative in nature? This ethnographic multi-case study incorporates participant observation and semi-structured interviews of participants selected through snowball sampling from among diasporic Kazakhs in, or repatriated from, China. Kazakh folklore and proverb collections were examined for conflict resolution practices and values at the family and kinship levels. Key theories used to explore the topic include Post-Colonial Theory of Sub-Altern Agency, Essentialism Theory, Soviet Ethnos Theory, and Restoration of Trust Theory. This study expands the knowledge base regarding indigenous systems of conflict resolution and contributes to the ethnography of the Kazakh people. The existence of indigenous informal restorative Kazakh systems of conflict resolution can inform reassessment and reform of public policy as to alternatives to punitive criminal justice practices.