Dr Elmira Köchümkulova coordinates the Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit at UCA, and is an Associate Professor at the School of Arts and Sciences. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees with the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington and is one of the leading cultural anthropologists in the region.
Dr. Köchümkulova has edited books and authored articles on Central Asian music, oral traditions, Islam, and nomadic cultures. She has presented extensively at international conferences and lectured on Central Asian Islam, Kyrgyz musical and oral traditions, nomadic life, and funeral customs at leading universities and research centres, including Harvard University’s Central Asian Studies Group, the University of Chicago’s Central Asian Studies Society, and Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Dr. Köchümkulova’s research focuses on the historical and contemporary significance of traditions and customs in Turkic Central Asia. She is the co-editor of the UCA/Aga Khan Music Initiative textbook Music of Central Asia: An Introduction, contributing several chapters on Kyrgyz oral tradition and music, and taught the UCA pilot course based on the textbook. She served as scholarly editor and coordinated the production of a seminal two-volume collection Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions (in Kyrgyz language), the first scholarly text on Kyrgyz instrumental music authored by Asan Kaybïlda uulu and published by UCA’s Cultural Heritage Book Series.
She is currently working on several books on topics ranging from Kyrgyz national identity to Kyrgyz funeral lamentations. She speaks six languages and is an accomplished musician and composer, having performed widely across the United States and Central Asia.