Zifa-Alua Auezova will be the Central Asia Visiting Scholar in November 2016

Zifa-Alua Auezova will be the Central Asia Visiting Scholar in November 2016. Dr Auezova will deliver two guest lectures on Thursday, 10 November and Monday, 28 November within the Central Asia Initiative at Leiden University.

Zifa-Alua Auezova

Zifa-Alua Auezova received her PhD degree at the Department of Oriental Studies of St. Petersburg State University in 1994. She is the former president of the European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS), and has lectured at Al-Farabi State University and Leiden University. Currently, she is the owner of Eurasian Perspective and is a member of the Founders’ Board of the Mukhtar Auezov Foundation.

10 November: Ideologies vs. historiographies in Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia

Writing a history requires a proper understanding of current social values and dominant categories of public discourse, besides the subject of study itself. In 20th c. Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia (including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan) it also required exercising vigilance in regard to constantly changing ideological attitudes to certain historical events and personalities.

The most important challenge during the Soviet period in Central Asian historiography was probably the need to change the perspective from a “local” to the Soviet one. To understand the “local” perspective, we will discuss the most significant pre-20th century historical treatises on tribes and ruling dynasties of Central Asia in the context of influences of Persian, Mongol and Turkic historiographic traditions on self-identification of the local tribes. Further, we will discuss the formation of Soviet perspectives to most significant events and personalities from Central Asian history, as well as their transformations under the pressure of changing ideology.

The disintegration of the Soviet state followed by the declaration of state sovereignty of former Soviet Republics, led to the reconstruction of intellectual legacies that were discarded in the Soviet period as “nationalistic”, “anti-popular”, “ideologically harmful”, etc. In the newly independent Central Asian states this process resulted into revisiting pre-Soviet historical narratives. We will consider the contents of post-Soviet textbooks on history, reflecting the search for the ‘right national ideology’ in the region.  

Time: 13.15-15.00 hrs
Venue: Leiden University, VRIESH4/008A, Leiden

28 November: ‘Nationalism’, ‘internationalism’ and ‘collective memory’ in Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia

The five states of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – gained state sovereignty as the result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, now twenty-five years ago. Ideologies underlying the current revisions in ‘collective memory’ of these states strive in a rather similar way for the restoration of elements of ethnic legacies that were destroyed or damaged during the Soviet period.

To get a better understanding of the nature of the current ethnocentrism in the region, we shall look back to the history of Soviet public discourse on ‘internationalism’ as a basis for ‘global’ solidarity between working people, on one hand, and as a rule of conduct within Soviet society, on the other, as well as consider certain events and names that had to be eliminated from public discourse in Soviet Central Asia.

In our discussion of the post-Soviet practices of public commemorations in Central Asia expressed in mass media, literature, historiography, decorative and monumental arts, etc. we shall also consider the nature of similar processes in the heart of the former empire in Russia. Russian nation-building and experiences in “collecting memories” after the collapse of the USSR have been serving to a great extent as modus operandi for other post-Soviet states, as well as an indicator of what has been permissible in a post-Soviet society.

Finally, we’ll discuss post-Soviet transformations in the geopolitical self-identification of Central Asian states, which have resulted in cooperation and exchange in the areas of academic research and arts within the region and outside - Turkey, Iran, China and Mongolia.

Time: 15.15-17.00 hrs
Venue: Leiden University, Lipsius Building, Room 235C, Leiden

Last Modified: 01-11-2016