Margarethe Adams (Stony Brook)
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- Room 213
- Sunday 13 October, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Laurel Gray (George Washington University)
Paper long abstract:
Decolonizing Uzbek Dance: Honoring the Roots of Gesture
This paper responds to assertions that contemporary Uzbek stage dance is an artificial Soviet-era invention and that Uzbek women's dance was created in imitation of professional dancing boys, or batchas. While systematic Soviet training did shape performance style, Uzbek dance contains elements of a traditional gestural language. Male Europeans travelers, denied access to the women's quarters, or ichkari, wrote about dancing boys, but this does not signify that women had no dance culture. Boys who later became batchas were raised as small children in the women's quarters, immersed in a feminine movement vocabulary. A variety of still-existing regional styles and differing dance intentions - such as ritual - reveals sources without connection to Soviet choreography. An analysis of the kinesphere used in Uzbek folk dances provides a method to evaluate movement. Insights also draw upon Alan Lomax's theory of choreometrics, a system which posits that traditional dance grows from everyday movements. Repetitive activities, such as horseback riding and silk production, change the human body in ways that impact flexibility and range of movement. Dance gestures literally embody these quotidian activities, turning them into expressive elements. I also draw upon my own experiences of researching, studying and performing Uzbek dance for 40 years, including personal transmissions from my teachers and noted artists. I argue that to label Uzbek stage dance as "ersatz," is in itself a new type of colonialism. It dismisses a gestural heritage connected to the historical experience of Uzbek women and reflects a bias of "dance" as an activity consigned to specialized movers rather than a vital element of cultural expression. My paper proposes a more nuanced understanding of the origins of the gestural heritage of Uzbek dance that reflects traditional life ways and links it through a shared movement vocabulary to other Turkic peoples.
Paper long abstract:
The demise of Central Asian Pavilions of contemporary art at the Venice Art Biennale (2005-2013) inaugurated a period of discontent and disillusionment in the local art world that coincided with the sharp turn in the Eurasian politics triggered by the Maidan and subsequent occupation of the Crimea and Donbass by Russia.
This 'post-Venetian period' in the development of contemporary art in Central Asia saw a growing demand for its institutionalisation on a national level and a further deviation from the integrational sentiment of the early 2000s. Kazakhstan launched an ambitious Ruhani Zhangyru programme with four international exhibitions of Kazakh contemporary art in 2018. Uzbekistan responded with the creation of Arts and Culture Development Foundation (ACDF) with a mission 'to stimulate a creative intercultural dialogue and integrate art in Uzbekistan into the global art world and cultural space'. The Asanbay-Centre, a 'multi-disciplinary cultural venue for people to gather and to enrich their life through art, education, and entertainment-related programs' opened in Bishkek in 2017.
Since the mid-2010s, Moscow-based Garage Museum of contemporary art has begun several research programmes in Central Asia. In 2018, it supported the establishment of the centre of contemporary culture 'Tselinny' in Almaty and in 2019 became involved in a similar centre in Tashkent, operated by the ACDF.
In this paper, I will analyse these institutional developments and mixed responses they evoked from the local and international art world as part of hybrid war waged between various players in the region. Using my own experience of working with these institutions, first-hand accounts by artists and curators, official documents and available publications, I seek to demonstrate how different and often clashing political agendas determine complex ideological configurations, power struggle, curatorial and artistic practices in the Central Asian art scene.
Author:Mohammad Sadegh Ansari (Columbia University)
Paper long abstract:
Scholarship on the history of science and philosophy in the Islamic world used to perceive commentaries as a sign of the decadence and decline of scientific output and the depletion of innovative thinking among scholars of the medieval Islamic world. Scholars of Islamic science and philosophy have recently pushed back against this perspective by giving some long overdue attention to the commentary tradition in the late medieval Islamic world as a vehicle for expressing innovative thoughts in different scientific disciplines. Complementing these new trends in contemporary scholarship, this paper will examine ʻAbd al-Qādir al-Marāghī (d. 1435 CE)'s commentaries on Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Urmawī's (d. 1294 CE) two musical treatises. While al-Urmawī's two treatises, written in Arabic, became the staple of learning the science of music in the post-14 th century Islamic world, al-Marāghī's treatises, written in Persian, were among the most important commentaries written on the two treatises, especially among the scholars of the Persianate world by introducing the Urmawian discourse to the cultural sphere of Transoxiana. In this paper, I will examine al-Marāghī's comments on al-Urmawī's discussions regarding the question of the acoustics of sound production, as presented in the former's multiple treatises written in Tabriz and Samarqand. Beginning a few centuries before al-Urmawī with al-Fārābī, the great philosopher from the 10 th century CE, scholars of the science of music in the Islamic world discuss a number of issues regarding the mechanics of sound production. In providing his arguments on sound production, al-Urmawī is critical of al-Fārābī, arguing that the latter's discussions of the phenomenon do not accord with our experience of the phenomenon. Al-Marāghī on the other hand, defends al-Fārābī against al-Urmawī's attacks, by claiming that the latter has essentially misread and consequently misunderstood the former's remarks on the subject. Al-Marāghī's comments are, however, more than mere polemical refutations, as he not only refutes al-Urmawī's remarks, but also ultimately clarifies certain ambiguities in al-Fārābī's text and in doing so contributes to a centuries long debate among the scholars of the science of music in the medieval Islamic world on the question of the acoustics of sound production.
Authors:Julien Bruley (University of Lille)
Daler Kaziev (Cornell University)
Paper long abstract:
Manas is the eponymous character of an oral tradition - the Manas epic - shared only among the Kyrgyz people beyond artificially created borders whether they are living in Kyrgyzstan, China or Afghanistan. If we can access a large amount of documentation or observe the presence of the Manas epic tradition in those countries, very little seems to speak for it in the context of the Kyrgyz communities in the Eastern Pamirs of Tajikistan.
This article analyses the concept of "kyrgyzness" (traditional self-identification of the Kyrgyz people and how it is manifested) and its use among the Kyrgyz communities in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan through the Manas epic, which has been propelled the main paragon of national ideology in Kyrgyzstan. Although cultural revivals among the indigenous peoples of Central Asia are a normal social-cultural process after the end of Soviet Union, a two-weeks fieldwork on the Murgab district (GBAO province, Tajikistan ) realized by the two authors reveals that the Manas is little known and far to be worshiped as it is in Kyrgyzstan.
As a result, a different aspect of "kyrgyzness", like the one crafted and understood in Kyrgyzstan, exists on its own in the Murghab district. This can be explained by the complex context of the latter - there are mutual relationships, a strong sense of homeland, exchanges and shared values between Kyrgyz and others different ethnic, linguistic, religious groups in the region. Moreover, it illustrates that the tradition of Manas disappeared from Tajikistan, due to colonization and Soviet ideological restrictions onto Pamirs' cultures, but was reintroduced after the collapse of SSSR, mainly by media, and cultural exchanges with Kyrgyzstan, where Manas was boosted as a moral and heroic model.
This study shows, through the example of Manas, how the Eastern Pamirs' Kyrgyz communities are continuously re-constructing, re-building, and renewing their multiple self-determinations in the pluralistic space called Murghab.
Anthropologists (Till Mostowlansky above all) and other academic authors have already produced an important amount of knowledge, but we would like to open the existing debate on that area, rethinking the concepts of cultural boundaries, cultural revivals, colonization, relationships between lands and peoples in the Eastern Pamirs, a remote but yet central place as a source of new knowledge for Central Asian issues under the conditions of contemporary geopolitical and social-ecological changes.