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«Sanjyra» Oral Histories

In 2020, Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit collaborated with the “Sanzhyra” Center for Cultural and Historical Research to publish oral histories of elderly people from village communities who have led exemplary lives. This project provides space for respected elders to share their stories on their own terms and publishes the life narratives to connect new generations to the heritage of their families and communities.  

The current generation of elderly people in Kyrgyzstan represents a unique link in historical memory because they bridge the gap from the pre-Soviet experiences of their grandparents to their own experiences of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. This generation also has unique insights into the histories of their village communities. These memories of unwritten village histories and personal Soviet experiences constitute local cultural heritage that is often glossed over in regional or national sources.

“Sanzhyra” Center has filmed and transcribed over 300 in-depth oral history interviews in eight districts of Kyrgyzstan. CHHU is now working to publish the collected, edited narratives of these interviews for each region in digital format . Beginning in Summer 2021, CHHU, in collaboration with UCA's School of Arts and Sciences, partners with the Sanzhyra Center to extend the project to further regions and to develop an open-access, online project archive.