Preserving History & Building Capacity: UCA Initiative to Preserve Pamir Archives

Date: 16 February 2011
Other languages: Русский язык |

Click to enlarge imageWorkshop participants at the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe, December 201013-14 December 2010, the University of Central Asia (UCA) organized a workshop to identify the scope and status of primary sources related to the Pamir region at the various Institutes of the Tajik Academy of Sciences (TAS). The vast repositories of rich written, visual and sound collections provide tremendous resources for research and the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations. Twenty-five participants from the Institutes of the Tajik Academy of Sciences (History, Humanities, Manuscript and Oriental Studies); the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS); and UCA attended the workshop held in the beautiful premises of the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe. Along with presentations on archival materials, unpublished research monographs, and ongoing research by participants and their colleagues, two key objectives of the workshop were to discuss needs related to the preservation of fragile and endangered materials and the training young Central Asian on the use of these primary sources in their research.

Bringing the Past Alive
Focusing on written treasures, Dr. Shohzodamamad Mamadsherzodshoev (IIS Library, Khorog) presented on The Importance of Manuscripts in Studying the History of Central Asian People and described IIS’ holdings in Badakhshan, in both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as well as on practical measures to preserve and store manuscripts. Dr. Sulaimonsho Ghulomshoev (Institute of History, Dushanbe) described the rare books and manuscripts of Soviet orientalist Aleksandr Semenov. A founder of Tashkent State University and the Central Asian School on Oriental Studies, = Semenov had an outstanding collection, and was a specialist on the history of Islam in Central Asia. In his presentation, The Role of Semenov and His Library in Studying Ismailism, Dr. Ghulomshoev stressed the need to preserve the collection. Other sessions included presentations on Silki Guharrez by Dr. Qudratbek Elchibekov (Institute of Manuscript and Oriental Studies) and Grammatical Structures of Minor Pamirian Languages by Dr. Shodikhon Yusufbekov (Institute of Humanities).

Highlighting images of yesterday, Dr. Larisa Dodkhudoeva (Department of Ethnography, Institute of History) presented the Institute’s photographic archives in presentations on rare but disintegrating collections of photos, Ethnographic Photo Documentaries of the Pamirs and History of Pamiri Women according to Photo Documentaries from the Early 20th Century. She also stressed the need to preserve, digitize and catalogue the collections.

Echoing sounds of the past, Tayakal Haidarov (Institute of Humanities in Khorog and IIS) presented on Oral Traditions of the Pamirs. It was noted that the Institute of Humanities and the Institute of History both have sound archives that could be combined for preservation and research purposes. UCA’s collaboration with scholar Dr. Nizom Nurdjanov to produce a three-volume collection on The Musical Arts of the Pamirs documenting the rich musical heritage of Tajikistan was described by Dr. Bahriniso Kabilova (A. Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography, Dushanbe), as an example of an initiative that preserved rich content, making it accessible to a new generation of musicians and scholars.

Yesterday’s History - Today’s Partnerships
UCA and IIS indicated interest in supporting preservation and restoration efforts of archives in TAS within the context of their institutional research priorities, and reaffirmed their commitment to publishing or republishing seminal works on the Pamirs. IIS’s Hakim Elnazarov stressed IIS’ priority research areas of religious and socio-cultural aspects of Central Asian life. UCA Director General Bohdan Krawchenko confirmed that UCA is committed to restoration and archiving activities not just in the Pamirs but in the region as a whole. Director of Research Nasreen Dhanani specified that investments to preserve the rich cultural resources should be linked with the objective to produce high quality original research and build capacity among the young generation to use primary sources.

Participants identified regional needs, including the lack of skills in handling and preserving manuscripts and the lack of equipment and technology to restore, digitize and preserve collections. UCA Senior Research Fellow Sunatullo Jonboboev conducted a session on proposal development to help participants continue to identify and present priorities for collaborative activities. The production of a manual on reading and working with manuscripts, based on initial work done by the late Senior Fellow Alimardonov Amriyazdon (Institute of Manuscript & Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, Tajikistan) was proposed, as was the need for training of younger researchers. AKHP Head Sharofat Mamadambarova concluded that the workshop was a successful first step towardsfuture partnerships to preserve existing archives on the rich heritage of the Pamirs.

For more information contact: Sharofat Mamadambarova at

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