Nazarbayev University will hold international conference on Central Asia

This year, Nazarbayev University will host the international conference of The European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS). The theme of the conference, which is scheduled to take place between 5 -7 August 2013 in Astana, is “The Steppe and the Sown.”  The event will gather about 200 participants from 16 countries in Asia, Europe and North America.
“This theme was chosen because we want to talk about Central Asia as a cultural space based on the interweaving of the various layers of nomadic and settled civilizations. It often happens that today, when we talk about historical origins of our people, we focus on a single ethno-cultural essence – Kazakhs only as nomads, Uzbeks or Tajiks only as Dekhkans or urban residents. It turns out that we often underestimate our own historically established multiculturalism. A historical study shows that in the same Kazakh Steppe – the area where today our city is growing and developing –  in XVII – XIX centuries a variety of cultural layers have already converged and diverged, interacted and interweaved. Cossacks and Kazakhs, Tatars and Sarts lived together in our city. At the turn of the 20th century Kazakhs made up 30 percent of the population of Akmola. At that very moment in history or even earlier historical moments, we cannot say that some ethnicity had only one unique lifestyle. Life has always been diverse. The process of cultural borrowing and exchange has never stopped,” says Alima Bissenova, Professor of Anthropology in Nazarbayev University and a member of the conference’s  organizing committee.

The conference program will include 48 sessions in the fields of anthropology, art and literature, linguistics, education, history, politics, sociology, as well as five round tables:  “Scholarship for a Broader Public”,” The Sacred places in Central Asia: continuity and transformation”,” The Development of migration processes in the Post-Soviet Russia and Kazakhstan”,”Central Asia: from the shared history to shared future”, and “Vision and practice of energy consumption”.

At the conference, Kazakhstan will be represented by scientists from 13 universities and research institutes.  Professors of Nazarbayev University are active participants of the conference, many scholars of the university will led sessions and present their own research on migration, national identity, civil development, material culture, music, Kazakh literature, education, agriculture and population, famine, Islamic history, and the history of the borders and sovereignty.

The first conference of The European Society for Central Asian Studies took place in 1987 in London, UK and was convened by the School of Oriental and African Studies. Since then, the event has been held in 11 countries around the world with a frequency of once in two years. The ESCAS conference in Astana, the first ever in Central Asia, will be namely at Nazarbayev University. The previous conference took place in 2011 in the UK at the University of Cambridge.

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