UCA News - Issue 67

Date: 15 December 2010
Other languages: Русский язык |

The UCA Public Lecture Series continues to highlight emerging research in Central Asia, providing forums for lively discussion and exchange of information. At the beginning of the academic year, the Series featured topics ranging from community perspectives on glacial change to Bukhari mourning traditions.

Regional Efforts for Sustainable Land & Forest Management
On September 17, Nurbek Kuldanbaev, of the public foundation Relascope, and Tonje Økland, of the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, jointly presented a lecture on Terrestrial Environmental Monitoring Project in Central Asia (TEMP-CA).

Degradation of land and forests are widespread in Central Asia threatening social and food security. TEMP-CA, a partnership project between Norway, Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was initiated in 2004 to establish and develop a terrestrial environmental monitoring program based on international standards. The lecture described TEMP-CA and results from forest monitoring sites in the Fergana Valley including the establishment of a monitoring system for understanding effects of anthropogenic stress factors on forest trees, ground vegetation and soil; the development of a framework for an integrated forest and environmental monitoring program; training field workers, scientists and laboratory engineers on forest condition, vegetation ecology, taxonomy, soil chemistry and soil classification; and collaborations and information sharing initiatives. 

Community Perspectives on Glacial Change
On September 20, Fulbright Student Scholar Ann Piersall presented a lecture on Local Perceptions of Glacial Retreat and Livelihood Impacts in the At-Bashy Range of Naryn Oblast.

Glaciers act as a main water reservoir to millions of people in Central Asia. The total glaciated area within the Tien Shan has decreased approximately 25-35% in the 20th century, reflecting worldwide patterns. The lecture described research in the At-Bashy Range, where residents utilize the mountain environment and glacial melt to sustain their livelihoods, to understand local perspectives of glaciers in a physical and cultural context and the ways in which changes in glaciers are impacting livelihoods. The research found that although At-Bashy residents unanimously recognize the importance of mountains and glaciers as a source of cultural identity and physical resources, political and social factors of change tend to outweigh the impacts of environmental change. This research qualifies local perspectives to compliment extensive quantitative research on glacier retreat and will provide information to support and assist communities as they develop workable solutions for predicted impacts of climate change.

Internal Migration & Changing Urban Dynamics
On November 18, Rita Salmorbekova, Chair of the Sociology and Tourism Department, Institute for Social Development and Entrepreneurship in Bishkek, presented a lecture on Social Tension in Modern Kyrgyzstan: A Sociological Analysis of Emerging Urban Neighbourhoods.

Key reasons behind growing social tension in Kyrgyzstan are unemployment and an increase in poverty. This is exacerbated by internal migration as people move to seek employment. Since 1991, as many as 47 new migrant neighbourhoods have been established on the outskirts of Bishkek. Many of these lack basic social services and infrastructure, resulting in protests and an increase in social and inter-regional conflicts within the neighbourhoods. The lecture provided a socio-demographic portrait of these communities, based on systematic data collection and analysis of interviews with inhabitants from 18 neighbourhoods. The study aimed to identify causes of social tension, and develop recommendations to decrease these tensions by bridging the gaps between representatives of different regions of the country, helping newcomers adapt to their new cultural environment and solve social problems in their neighbourhoods. The study identified goals and prospects for community development, and recommendations were developed and provided to stakeholders, including the Mayor of Bishkek, state representatives and members of the business community.

Shifting Politics in Kyrgyzstan
On November 25, 2010, UCA Central Asian Faculty Development Programme Fellow Asel Doolotkeldieva presented a lecture on Shifts in Center-Region Relationships as a Condition of Politics in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Traditional approaches to the study of politics in Central Asia closely link political developments to changes and actions within the political elites of the Center. However, the March 2005 and April 2010 revolutions in the Kyrgyz Republic began with mobilization from within the regions, not the central elite. While the central elite continue to impact developments in the regions, it is increasingly constrained by political dynamics in the periphery. This lecture discussed the Center-region relationship in the Kyrgyz Republic and analyzes the form and the dynamics of interdependency. It started with the hypothesis that actors on both sides continuously struggle to produce a clear picture of the motives and actions of the other side, producing conflicts that unfold and regularly produce waves of political instability in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

Music & Mourning in Bukhara
On December 2, UCA Senior Research Fellow Alexander (Sasha) Djumaev presented a lecture on Tradition of Ashura among the Iranians of Bukhara (Uzbekistan) in the Context of Socio-Cultural and Religious Life of the City.

Dr. Alexander Djumaev presenting on the Ashura tradition of BukharaDr. Alexander Djumaev presenting on the Ashura tradition of Bukhara.The lecture described a unique Bukhari cultural phenomena – the religious mourning ceremony of ashura (rawzakhoni) practiced by the Iranian Shi‘ite community in Bukhara city and surrounding areas. Bukhari ashura combines internal Bukhari and external Azeri and Irani influences. Various musical traditions of multicultural Bukhara influence the ceremony and each performer furthers a phase of the ceremony. . Research confirms deep ties between co-existing Shi‘ite religious rituals and Sunni traditions within the Bukhara in the past and the present. This lecture described the contemporary ceremony of ashura with a focus on its socio-cultural and artistic relevance and also described the different ways the ceremony is conducted depending on its location.

For more information about UCA’s Public Lecture Series, contact Duishon Shamatov at: duishon.shamatov@ucentralasia.org.