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7 English Podcasts about Kazakhstan You Have to Listen to

Tune into local and foreign experts’ review of Kazakh politics, business, culture and more

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Image credit: QazMonitor (Adelina Kulyashkina)
Image credit: QazMonitor (Adelina Kulyashkina)

It feels like every fifth person in Kazakhstan has a podcast nowadays. You can find a show on almost any topic, from the country’s internal affairs to society, in both Kazakh and Russian. Unfortunately, the selection for audiophiles who want to learn about Kazakhstan in English is not as vast.

QazMonitor curated a list of foreign-made podcasts about Kazakhstan and Central Asia with a sprinkle of a few stand-alone episodes that feature personal stories or fun facts about our country.

Most of the podcasts on the list offer weekly or biweekly recaps of important news and life in Kazakhstan.

Spotlight on Central Asia

Spotlight on Central Asia is produced by the Oxus Society, a nonprofit organization in the US that seeks to reassess the region’s culture, politics, and history. Every two weeks, Michael Hilliard and Alimana Zhanmukanova release an episode covering the general political trends in Central Asia from the previous week.

A typical episode offers a deep dive into a particular event with the help of a guest expert. The subjects range from why Kazakhstan almost doubled its military spending to investigating the growing Indian presence in the country. Given the name of the podcast, many of the episodes do not center on Kazakhstan specifically, though they do give necessary context on each country of the region.

The podcast is available on their official website, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

Music Planet: Road Trip

Do you know what a dombyra is? How about sybyzgy? Nine minutes of the ‘Kazakhstan’ episode by BBC 3 Radio’s Music Planet: Road Trip cover the basics of traditional Kazakh music. The host of the episode, Zhadyra Zhumakulbay, examines the musical style of the pieces that play in the background.

You can find this episode on BBC 3 Radio’s official website.

Entrepreneurship Series

Entrepreneurship Series is a podcast that focuses on business inventions originating from different countries. Each episode discusses a distinct trend.

Last year, the podcast recorded an episode with Zhaniya Sauranbayeya, the founder of ONE ROOM PROJECT fashion school that teaches creative design and 3D modeling. During the episode, Zhaniya talks about modern Kazakh fashion and how the country’s industry is evolving.

She shares her take on local designers who, in recent years, have started to rethink their understanding of what ‘Kazakh-made’ means. Topics discussed in the episode include the shift from printing national ornaments on clothes to embracing multiculturalism.

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Central Asia Inside/Out

This is a show for those who lean towards the more academic side. Central Asia Inside/Out from Central European University highlights student research on historical, cultural, and socio-political issues related to Central Asia. Hosted by Elmira from Kazakhstan and Grace from the U.S., the podcast explores both insider and outsider perspectives on popular assumptions and stereotypes about the region.

Remembering the collective traumas of the past is a central theme of each installment Episodes touch on such subjects like the Great Famine of 1930-1933, or the effect of Cold War on the inhabitants of the small town of Sharora in modern-day Tajikistan.

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts.

CounterVortex

Do you know the story behind the “Nevada Semipalatinsk” movement and how it connected an indigenous tribe in America and the Kazakh people? Bill Weinberg of CounterVortex podcast dives deep into the history of anti-nuclear movements in Kazakhstan and the U.S.

1989 saw the rise of the largest anti-nuclear movement in the history of the Soviet Union. Led by Kazakh author Olzhas Suleimenov, people protested the testing of nuclear bombs at the Semipalatinsk Test Site.

Meanwhile, another anti-nuclear movement in the U.S., Nevada Desert Experience, spent a decade fighting for the end of nuclear testing on the ancient land of the Western Shoshone people.

United by a common cause, activists in both continents were able to close down the sites - in 1989 for Semipalatinsk (now Semey) and in 1992 for Nevada.

The podcast is available on the official site of CounterVortex, Soundcloud, and Apple Podcasts.

Icebreakers: A conversation about Canadian and Eurasian business

Icebreakers is a biweekly podcast by the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA) that explores how Canadian and North and Central Asian businesses and personalities intermingle with each other. The host Nathan Hunt interviews leaders, politicians, and artists that have worked with companies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.

The episodes touch on what Canadian entrepreneurs need to know in terms of state regulations, unpredicted situations, and the overall business climate to be able to prosper in the region.

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Audible, and Spotify.

QazMonitor: Daily News Podcast

The Qazaqstan Monitor delivers its readers reliable news and stories about current affairs about Kazakhstan in different formats, including podcast.

QazMonitor: Daily News Podcast allows you to stay in the know about the latest events in short, bite-sized segments. Links to new episodes are posted on QazMonitor’s Instagram stories every morning from Monday to Friday.

The first episode will be available on September 6.

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