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|Nom, adresse et source||Activités relatives au PCI|
|Aigine Cultural Research Center - Aigine CRC|
Общецтвенньй фонд кулътүрно-исследовательский центр Айгине [ru]
93 Toktogul Street
Tel.: +996312664832; +996312661952
Date de création: 2004
- oral traditions and expressions
- identification, documentation,
research (including inventory-making)
Aigine Cultural Research Center works in the field of traditional knowledge, education, humanities and social research. Founded in 2004, the Center set a goal of studying and preserving natural and cultural heritage and diversity in Kyrgyzstan. Having started with primarily academic projects such as study and documentation of the ancient tradition of pilgrimage to sacred sites, the Center adopted Participatory Action Research approach as the main working principle of the Center. The majority of Aigine’s projects are aimed at safeguarding biocultural heritage with focus on three domains a) sacred sites including its natural, spiritual, social components and dimensions, b) the great heroic epic “Manas.Semetey. Seitek” as well as small Kyrgyz epics, c) the folk music. All elements of biocultural heritage that Aigine aims to preserve comprise in themselves intangible cultural elements.
Over the course of its work Aigine came to realize that biocultural heritage can be best preserved when it is integrated in contemporary life and when stakeholders and rigthsholders manage to build meaningful collaboration. Thus, since 2007, Aigine identified two additional objectives:
Preserving, developing and integrating traditional wisdom with contemporary life and aiming to incorporate the positive potential of traditional wisdom in decision-making at all levels of public and political life;
Seeking points of rapprochement and interconnection among esoteric knowledge and science, nature and culture, traditions and innovations, West and East, and other experiences often seen as oppositions.
Designed to meet Center’s objectives, Aigine projects have directly contributed to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Kyrgyzstan. Aigine has been building effective connections with both traditional practitioners and state agencies, thus bridging important stakeholders and rightsholders involved in preservation of biocultural heritage. Since 2007, Aigine have been promoting inclusion of elements of traditional knowledge on sacred sites and revived folk musical systems into formal education. Some Aigine projects contributed to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage through exposing positive potential of traditional culture in preventing conflicts in the society and empowering vulnerable social groups (e.g. disabled youth). Thus, Aigine’s broader objectives aiming to preserve biocultural heritage at whole explicitly encompass an objective of preserving intangible cultural heritage.
Since 2005 till present, Aigine CRC has been conducting a study on sacred sites in all provinces of Kyrgyzstan. The study includes identification, documentation and inventory of sacred sites throughout the country. Students of local universities, «village intellectuals» and practitioners have been involved in field research in each province. Findings of the study made it possible for Aigine to define an outline of Sacred Geography of Kyrgyzstan. It contains the inventory of 920 sacred sites, which includes locations and descriptions with pictures of the places, recognized by local people as sacred or holy. Besides the inventory, the study investigated intangible cultural elements such as historical and contemporary dimensions of sacred sites, as well as, beliefs, rituals and traditional practices. The study results suggest that sacred sites in Kyrgyzstan should be considered as both natural and cultural heritage, which represents local land and indigenous culture in unity.
Aigine has been working for safeguarding a tradition of reciting the Manas epic, which is considered to be unique element of intangible cultural heritage of Kyrgyzstan. Working in close cooperation with epic chanters, Aigine has helped to build strong nationwide network of epic narrators. In last three years, Aigine has pioneered creation of a video compilation of the entire Manas, Semetei, Seitek epic trilogy recited by the contemporary epic chanters. This 67 hour-long video compilation is the first and the only video version of the entire epic trilogy ever created in Kyrgyzstan and beyond. The video compilation meets standards of modern ‘digital age’ and serves as a documented baseline of the current state of the contemporary epic recitation. The video compilation of the epic trilogy has been distributed free of charge among all the educational intuitions throughout the country so that students and teachers can have better access to study materials on the epic heritage. Also, the video compilation was made available on local and international video-sharing websites to contribute to preservation and promotion of the epic heritage in the Kyrgyz Republic and abroad.
Aigine sees promoting diversity to be a key component of preserving epic heritage. Thus, Aigine has been working on studying and supporting newly emerging version of the epic presented by a female practitioner. This version evoked numerous debates in the society at large at Aigine has conducted a series of workshops on mitigating contention points between male and female practitioners.
Aigine’s another groundbreaking project aimed at safeguarding epic heritage was a School for Novice Manaschys conducted from 2010 to 2012. One of the main objectives of the School was to revitalize and enhance traditional mentor-apprentice system that has been lost. Over the course of the project, nine young epic reciters were recruited out of more than thirty applicants from all over Kyrgyzstan. This School gave the young manaschys a unique opportunity to meet with and learn from recognized epic chanters during few-day-long workshops three times a year. The School became a ground for sharing manaschys’ spiritual experiences and improving their recitation skills. Aigine’s projects contributed a great deal to a successful nomination of Manas. Semetei. Setek epic trilogy for the UNESCO ICH List.
In 2009-2014, Aigine implemented a project called En Belgi on promoting traditional musical heritage. En Belgi is music note system developed by a prominent traditional musician – Nurak Abdrakhmanov, which facilitates learning to play komuz, the folk musical instrument. The system builds on intangible traditional cultural elements such as traditional mentorship, values and practices. In 2011-2012, Aigine introduced the En Belgi system in formal education.
Senior researchers at Aigine hold advanced degrees in humanities and social sciences. Both senior and junior researchers constantly thrive to improve their research skills and expertise by combining academic research and education with applied projects. Dr.Gulnara Aitpaeva, Director and Founder of Aigine worked for a long time at the Department of Anthropology at American University of Central Asia and attended special courses on Methods in Ethnoecology at Duke University in 2007.
Since 2005, Aigine CRC has been using PAR – participatory action research in order to preserve and promote the phenomena of intangible cultural heritage related to Kyrgyz epics, folk music, sacred sites, practices related to weather and environment, and many others. By its essence PAR demands involvement of all stakeholders, but in the first turn it requires putting practitioners, bearers and custodians in the center of a problem solving process.
Aigne has been successful in building fruitful and meaningful cooperation with traditional practitioners and local communities. For instance, a series of national and international level gatherings with the epic chanters in 2010-2014 allowed conceiving and implementing the idea of creating a video compilation of the Manas. Semetey. Seitek trilogy. En Belgi project resulted in creating informal country-wide network of music teachers, while the research on sacred sites and consecutive workshops with traditional practitioners created a basis for establishing an informal network of sacred sites’ guardians.
Aigine thrives to build trust-based and long term cooperation with all its partners and prioritizes interests and needs of local communities, traditional practitioners and knowledge holders. This approach proved effectives since it fosters self-organization and strong horizontal ties among stakeholders. For example, the community of the epic reciters took a lead in identifying the list of core episodes for the video compilation and the epic chanters who were to recite each episode. The epic chanters were directly involved in video-shooting and editing of the final version.
Aigine constantly keeps communication with the members of the sacred site guardians’ network. Strong ties allow Aigine to update information on sacred sites on a regular basis. Aigine’s publications (more than 10 books in Kyrgyz, Russian and English) and electronic resources allow traditional practitioners to have their say. For example, trust-based and mutually respectful cooperation between Aigine and the informal network of the sacred site guardians resulted in joint attempts to lobby and advocate legal recognition of sacred sites and related intangible cultural elements