UCA Launches New Books in Cultural Heritage Series
The University of Central Asia (UCA) recently introduced three new books in its Cultural Heritage Book Series at a book launch event in Bishkek.
“A key component of UCA’s mission is to help the different peoples of Central Asia preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritages as assets for the future,” said Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General and Dean of Graduate Studies.
Respect Graces the Living, Lamentation Graces the Dead: Kyrgyz Funeral Laments and Lamenters by Dr. Elmira Köchümkulova documents the content and practice of Kyrgyz funeral laments or koshoks. Practiced primarily by elderly women, koshoks are one of the oldest genres of Kyrgyz oral tradition and are in danger of being lost to influences of fundamentalist Islam, rapid urbanisation and globalisation. The book includes a DVD with 30 audio examples and rare video footage of Kyrgyz funeral customs and koshok performances.
Kyrgyz Herders of Soviet Uzbekistan: Historical and Ethnographic Narratives by Köchümkulova and Mamatkerim Köchümkulov documents the experiences of Kyrgyz herders in Soviet Uzbekistan from 1941 to 1995, highlighting the Soviet experience, relations between nomadic Kyrgyz and sedentary Uzbeks and the role of Kyrgyz women in family and society. The book includes photographs of nomadic families in the Yspy jailoo (summer pasture) from the 1970s by Köchümkulov and a DVD documenting a trip to the jailoo in 2009.
Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan, with photos by Margaret Morton and text by Professor Nasser Rabbat, Köchümkulova and Altyn Kapalova, is the first photographic documentation of unique Muslim cemeteries in Central Asia, which combine Muslim architectural forms with traditional Kyrgyz structures and Soviet enamel portraits, highlighting the diverse and complex influences on this seemingly remote region.
UCA’s Cultural Heritage Book Series is a growing collection of works by regional and international scholars aimed at preserving Central Asia’s unique and diverse cultural heritages through research, documenting, archiving and supporting regional scholarship. The books were published with support from The Christensen Fund.
“These books highlight key components of Kyrgyz culture, as well as unique collaborations between researchers, photographers and tradition bearers who all share a common mission of documenting and preserving vital, but also waning, cultural traditions,” said Köchümkulova who leads the Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit at UCA, and contributed to each of the books.
The event included an exhibition of photographs from the books, a screening of the documentrary Herders | Funeral Laments, ethnographic film Three Women in the Jailoo from Kyrgyz Herders and traditional Kyrgyz musical performances.