Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit

A critical part of the University’s mission is to help the different peoples of the region preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritages as assets for the future. The custodians of traditional knowledge are aging and, with limited resources to engage in preservation, this knowledge is under threat from several forces including migration and outside influences.

The University’s Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit (CHHU) is advancing the University’s mission by preserving and promoting the unique and diverse cultural heritages of the region through research, documentation, archiving and support of regional scholars. Currently located at UCA’s Bishkek office, the Unit will move to UCA’s new campus in Naryn.

The Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit was created to:

  • Preserve unique and diverse cultural heritages through research, documenting, archiving and supporting work of regional scholars;
  • Enhance understanding of socio-cultural and historical processes in Central Asia and contribute to international academic discourse on the region;
  • Serve as a knowledge hub for scholars, researchers, students, musicians, cultural practitioners, tradition bearers, stake holders and decision-makers;
  • Enhance UCA’s academic programmes in the School of Arts and Sciences, including the undergraduate Central Asian Studies minor;
  • Enrich cultural engagement and activities across UCA’s three campuses.
  • Promote cultural diversity, pluralism and understanding across cultures and generations in Central Asia; and
  • Promote Central Asian cultural heritage internationally through English translations of fundamental oral, literary, and historical works.


In partnership with other stakeholders, UCA research fellows are capturing and preserving existing information and cultural collections, while generating new dialogues and narratives on cultural heritage and identity in Central Asia. Key research themes include:

  • Cultural traditions: continuity, adaptation, and change
  • Life cycle rituals and feasting traditions
  • Oral and literary expressions of culture
  • Music
  • Religious and philosophical heritages of Central Asia
  • Local and regional histories of Central Asia
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture

Increasing Access to Central Asian Traditions

To increase awareness of and access to Central Asian traditions, the CHHU is translating fundamental Central Asian oral and literary works. This process of documentation and dissemination will enrich both academic and artistic initiatives. Initiatives include translating seminal Central Asian literature into English and producing ethnographic documentary films.

Cultural Archives

The Unit is generating photographic and film records of Kyrgyz cultural activities, perspectives and sites including photographs of seasonal migrations to summer pastures, funeral customs, memorial feasts and traditional games, and films on funeral customs and lamentations, komuz music, wedding customs and sacred sites.

UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series

The UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series promotes understanding across cultures and generations by supporting Central Asian scholars conduct original and high-quality research, and publish and disseminate their work to regional and international audiences. UCA, with its partners, also supports the development of resources on Central Asian cultural heritage by other publishers.

Books on Pamiri History and Cultural Heritage

Archaeological Map of the Eastern Pamirs (GBAO), Mira Bubnova, 2015 (Russian).
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Archaeological Map of the Western Pamirs (GBAO) Mira Bubnova, 2008 (Russian).
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The Musical Arts of the Pamirs, Vol I-V. Nizom Nurdjanov, Fayzulla Karomatov and Bahriniso Kabilova, 2010-2015 (Russian).
Volume I: Musical Heritage of the Pamirian Tajiks,
Volume II: Musical Performance and Dances of the Pamirian Tajiks,
Volume III: Ritual Music: Birth, Wedding, and Funeral
Volume IV: Tales, Epics and Legends
Volume V: Instrumental Music and Lyrical Songs
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Safar-name of Nasir Khusraw (11th Century), forthcoming 2015.

The History of Tajik Philosophy, Volume II, From Ancient Times to the Beginning of the 20th Century, forthcoming 2015 (Tajik).

Books on Kyrgyz History and Cultural Heritage

Respect Graces the Living, Lamentation Graces the Dead: Kyrgyz Funeral Laments and Lamenters, Elmira Köchümkulova, 2015 (Kyrgyz).
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Kyrgyz Herders of Soviet Uzbekistan: Historical and Ethnographic Narratives, Elmira Köchümkulova and Mamatkerim Köchümkulov, 2015 (Kyrgyz and English)
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Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan. Photos by Margaret Morton, text by Nasser Rabbat, Elmira Köchümkulova and Altyn Kapalova, University of Washington Press, 2014.
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The Ancient Monuments of the Tian-Shan, Kubat Tabaldiev,2011 (Russian)
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Kyrgyz Küüs, Instrumental Music, Volumes 1-2, Asan Kaibylda uulu,2011 (Kyrgyz).

Cultural Heritage Book Series
Type: Brief
Size: 781KB
Date: October 2016
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Other languages:  Русский язык | Кыргыз тил