Grassroots Resource Preservation and Management in Kyrgyzstan: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Heritage on a Human Scale

Asipa teaching Anne to make Sharduk (felt rug).
Bolot, Yimadin & Asipa - Summer Pasture picnic
Yimadin Fishing (all photos courtesy Anne Pyburn).
 Aida Abdykanova and Caroline Beebe, overlooking Bishkek
Asipa Adumbaevaat at Bolot’s school museum at Kara-Suu, with posters made by Kub
project team member and school principal, Zamir, with school flag.
Kubat Tabaldiev signs his new book on Kyrgyz archaeology, and Chynarbek Joldosho

This case study is intended to begin a public conversation among both urban and rural people about intellectual property and cultural heritage in Kyrgyzstan, a post-Soviet nation where ties to the past have been attenuated and even severed. 

In Kyrgyzstan, local communities have little or no awareness of the heritage resources in their midst, and damage to sites is simply incidental to farming, mining, or building.

Co-developed by K. Anne Pyburn (Indiana University—Bloomington), Avaz Tursunbaev (Director, Uzgben State Museum and Mausoleum and Tower, and President of the Kyrgyz Sacred Heritage Association), Momytbaev Yimadin Birnazarovich (Deputy, Kara Sas, Herdsman), Abakir Kalybekov (Physics Teacher at Chargynov, Ozgorush, Toktogul region), and Caroline Beebe (PhD, Information Specialist, USA), this case study has grown out of an earlier project.
Over the past four years, Anne Pyburn and Caroline Beebe have collaborated with more than 100 Kyrgyz, Canadian, Kazak, Uzbek and American stakeholders to begin to address questions around cultural heritage, and to offer useful information and timely support to Kyrgyz citizens as requested. As a result, Kyrgyz people from various backgrounds participated in the “Silk Roads” project that set the groundwork for the current research funded by IPinCH. The Kyrgyz people designed 13 small-scale sustainable, culturally-appropriate, and community-embedded projects that address the preservation and educational use of IP and cultural heritage.
Three projects were deemed of primary importance since they address many of the IPinCH goals, while satisfying the Kyrgyz project objective of completing demonstration projects of sufficient variety and scope to inform the design and implementation of the remaining ten projects, each of which further Kyrgyz identification and protection of important cultural heritage themes.
Project 1: Developing a New Foundation for an Ancient Structure
This project capitalizes on the local community’s existing engagement with an internationally-significant heritage site that is an ancient architectural masterpiece with local spiritual significance.  The site is in immediate danger because previous archaeological excavation was left unconsolidated, and faces future preservation concerns because of the several avenues of development being suggested. A public opinion survey designed and administered by Avaz Tursunbaev will discover what types of improvement and development the citizens of Uzgen will approve and support. Administering this survey will simultaneously engage the public in thinking and talking about this site, hopefully enhancing their engagement with the place, not only spiritually, but also through awareness of the practical importance of preservation.
Project 2: Cultural Heritage as Environmental Protection:
This project will preserve oral traditions unknown to the younger generations of Kyrgyz by reconnecting young people to their heritage and their country’s resources, inspiring them to be better stewards of their material and spiritual heritage. Co-developer Abakir Kalybekov will record a series of traditional songs and stories and take these to visit radio stations in Bishkek, Koch Kor and elsewhere for a weekly radio show. He will design and print a companion workbook for children ages eight to twelve, presenting values of heritage preservation through traditional stories, songs and petroglyphs.

Project 3: Recovering Heritage Memories

Momytbaev Yimadin Birnazarovich has begun to create a photographic and video-graphic record of the archaeological and cultural treasures in his local area. He would like to develop these onto an ethnographic map that could be used to develop tourism, by a) directing visitors to sites they would like to see; b) to people who would be willing to talk to them; and c) by offering them some information about the area and its residents. At the same time casual visitors will be tactfully discouraged from intruding at sites that local people consider sacred.

Photos: Asipa teaching Anne to make Sharduk (felt rug); Bolot, Yimadin & Asipa prepared a summer pasture picnic; Aida Abdykanova and Caroline Beebe, overlooking Bishkek; Yimadin fishing; Asipa Adumbaevaat at Bolot’s school museum at Kara-Suu, with posters made by Kubat Tabaldiev; project team member and school principal, Zamir, with school flag; Kubat Tabaldiev signs his new book on Kyrgyz archaeology, and Chynarbek Joldoshov celebrates. All photos courtesy of Anne Pyburn.  


Research Themes

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methods engage communities in all aspects of the research process. 

Aida Abdykanova
IPinCH Fall Gathering
George Nicholas
American Anthropological Association Conference, Session: Reversing the Legacy of Colonialism in Heritage Research (Montreal, Quebec)
On Display: Local Museums and Heritage in Kyrgyzstan
K. Anne Pyburn, C. Beebe, A Zhumabaeva
World Archaeological Congress Intercongress (Indianapolis)
Teaching Resources
History of Kyrgyzstan in Drawings and Photographs (Poster Set in Kyrgyz)

This exhibition, created by Kubatbek Tabaldiev, consists of 11 large hard boards. Each board represents a different chronological period of the history of Kyrgyzstan on the basis of archaeological sites and artifacts in the form of pictures, maps and photographs. This exhibition can be used as a visual teaching aid on the history and archaeology of Kyrgyzstan. 

Kochkor Teacher's Workshop Toolkit

Asipa Zhumbaeva is a specialist in teacher training. She used her professional networks to set up a workshop for teachers in her area (around Kochkor). 

Videos & Podcasts
Teacher Education Workshop Videos, Part 1
Asipa Zhumbaeva

This 2015 workshop for teachers was organized by Asipa Zhumbaeva to help educators develop heritage-oriented curriculum for schools in the Kochkor region of Kyrgyzstan.  

Teacher Education Workshop Videos, Part 2
Asipa Zhumbaeva

This 2015 workshop for teachers was organized by Asipa Zhumbaeva to help educators develop heritage-oriented curriculum for schools in the Kochkor region of Kyrgyzstan.  

Kochkor Bashi (Kum-Dobo Village) Museum
Kaerbek Konurbaev

The Kum-Dobo Museum Project was being developed by Kaerbek Konurbaev who is a citizen of Kum-Dobo village, located in Kochkor rayon of Naryn oblast in Kyrgyzstan. In this video by Asipa Zhumbaeva he is teaching local children about the heritage site of Kum-Dobo, which is under their village. 

Shapak School (Kara-Suu Village) Museum
Bolbek Uluu Bolot

In the museum in the Shapak School of Kara-Suu Village, Kyrgyzstan, teacher Bolbek Uluu Bolot tells his students about their heritage. 

The Silver Horse Tack of Sheisheva Molbubu
Sheisheva Molbubu

This is a video made in 2016 of Sheisheva Molbubu, who was citizen of Kara-Suu Village in Kyrgyzstan all her life and was 82 years old at the time of the film. 

How to Make a Horse Whip
Bolbek Samudinov and Konokbaev Sultan

This video was made in 2014 by Bolbek uulu Bolot, a teacher in Kyrgyzstan. The interviewer/boy is Konokbaev Sultan, one of Bolot’s students; the person being interviewed is Bolot’s father, Bolbek Samudinov. 

Interview on Heritage Values with Kum-Dobo Villager

Konurbaev Kaerbek is committed to the preservation and research on the medieval city that is beneath Kum-Dobo Village where he lives. 

Travelling to the Asian Petroglyphs
Aldaiarov Zamir

In this video, 7th-grade students from Alaidar uulu School, Kara-Kungoi Village in Kyrgyzstan are going on a field trip into the mountains near their village.

Anne Pyburn and Aida Abykanova
Anne Pyburn & Aida Abykanova

Anne Pyburn and Aida Abykanova discuss heritage, archaeology, and identity in Kyrgyzstan, and chat about their IPinCH-supported project, Grassroots Resource Preservation and Management in Kyrgyzstan.

Anne Pyburn

Anne Pyburn presenting on the Grassroots Resources Preservation and Management in Kyrgyzstan project at the IPinCH Midterm Conference. Sept 30th - Oct 1st 2011.