Globalization of Multicultural Regions: Discursive Landscapes of policy transformation (energy, urban development, language and education)

Building on the success of and inspired by the collaborative project “Capturing globalized energy discourses in an exhibition landscape (2017)”, the partnership between School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan) and School of Applied Linguistics of Zurich University of Applied Science (Switzerland) undertakes to expand academic collaboration.


The project aims to observe linguistic and visual realizations of transforming globalizing multilingual discourse at a single time and space, the modern day Kazakhstan, while performing comparative analysis with similar cases in Switzerland. The project will focus on the linguistic landscape of Astana, the new urban, multi-lingual, multi-cultural new capital of Kazakhstan, manifesting transition of an economy, of a state, of a culture. The observed transition is multifaceted and represents an exciting overlay of factors including, interaction of tradition vs. modernization, modernizing push of an energy-driven economy, political transition of a former USSR republic, multilingualism and multiculturalism, an orthography reform (Cyrillic- into Latin-based). The aspirations of modern day Kazakhstan, to integrate into modern global intercultural community, while preserving and showcasing its cultural uniqueness and diverse heritage, are manifest in the local linguistic landscape as means of communicating various insights on culture, commerce, technology to domestic and international audiences.


The project explores discursive landscapes of policy transformations focusing on discourse related to policy changes, developing a longer-term research project in contrastive discourse analyses and developing further networking between actors of the existing strong Swiss-Kazakhstan collaboration.


The project investigates topical, narrative and strategic formation of language use in Astana and on comparable sites in Switzerland applying textual as well as transtextual analysis. The proposed project will benefit from fruitful entanglement of linguistic discourse analysis and "linguistic landscape" and "geosemiotics", developing further the potential for sharing of knowledge.

The key aim of the project is to document and perform in-depth analysis of discursive formations in their “natural” environment, and informed by a linguistic perspective on discourse analysis. While performing documentation of language use in the urban context, the focus will be on situated, multimodal practices of discourse. Data collection in the proposed project is performed by the students, co-supervised by the project supervisors at Nazarbayev University and ZHAW School of Applied Linguistics. The discourse analysis methodology will build on three levels of analysis:

  • Formation of Topical Concepts – regularities in regards to cognitive concepts;
  • Formation of Narratives – framing of topical concepts by means of visual and textual plots;
  • Formation of Discursive Strategies – recurring concepts and frames on the stage of urban signs and in relation to their specific interests.


The resources of the proposed project are used to organize preliminary activities, such as mutual visits between Kazakhstan and Switzerland, to organize planning and training workshops, and for presentation by faculty and students of the experience and interim results of the project.

The project contributes to the cooperation between Kazakhstan and Switzerland in the domain of education, and will lay the infrastructural and methodological foundation for further sustained longer-term collaborative activities.