ZMO-Lecture Series: Islam and Society in Central Asia
SPEAKER: Dr. Elmira Kochumkulova
Time: Tuesday, 22 February 2011, 5 p.m.
Zentrum Moderner Orient
Kyrgyz cultural practices, especially funeral customs, are closely tied with Kyrgyz history, a nomadic way of life, spiritual worldview, and oral tradition. With the adoption of Islam, the formerly nomadic Kyrgyz incorporated many beliefs and practices into their existing value system. Until today, Islamic, native spiritual beliefs and practices co-exist in everyday Kyrgyz life without contradicting each other. Of the traditional Kyrgyz life cycle rituals, funerals present rich and unique source of information for understanding the identity, and local forms and contextualization of Islam in Kyrgyz society.
The lecture will provide an overview of the structure and essential aspects of a Kyrgyz funeral such as the erecting a yurt, killing a horse, women’s singing of lamentations, men’s out loud crying, distribution of gifts of clothes to relatives who wash the deceased body, burial, and subsequent memorial feast offerings to honor the deceased spirit. The presentation is combined with photographs as well as video-excerpts of a Kyrgyz funeral and memorial feasts from the AksÃ¯ region of southern Kyrgyzstan where Dr. Kochumkulova conducted her ethnographic research.
Dr. Kochumkulova is a scholar specializing in the nomadic cultures and oral traditions of Central Asia, and is a Research Associate at the University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She received her BA and MA from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, and her Ph.D. from their Interdisciplinary Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2007. She has several publications on Islam and Nomadic Heritage in Kyrgyzstan.
The lecture will be held in English.