History and Memory in Kyrgyzstan

“A deeper understanding of the past is an important route to greater inclusion and national dialogue. The Centre is pleased to engage in this rich discussion with participants on the importance of history and memory in advancing pluralism in Kyrgyzstan”

Jayne Barlow
Director of Programs, Global Centre for Pluralism

Toward an Inclusive Society

The Global Centre for Pluralism has launched a series of initiatives to build awareness of the role that history and memory play in promoting pluralism in Kyrgyzstan. In 2017, the Centre ran a masterclass for history educators in partnership with EUROCLIO – European Association of History Educators (based in The Hague, Netherlands).

In 2016, work included a call for research papers and a forum where the papers were presented, a meeting with the President’s History Commission, and a professional development workshop for history educators. These three events, all held in December in Bishkek, marked the culmination of work to build awareness and capacity among a wide network of stakeholders, delivered with support from the Government of Canada and in collaboration with several Kyrgyzstani partners.

Global Voices on Pluralism:
A New Publication Series

Exploring history and memory as a pathway to pluralism in Kyrgyzstan

The Centre has launched Global Voices on Pluralism, a new publication series. The papers in the series are part of the Centre’s project, “History and Memory in Kyrgyzstan: Toward an Inclusive Society,” developed to support local scholars. Each paper explores an aspect of Kyrgyzstan’s history as a diverse society with the aim of generating awareness in Kyrgyzstan about the importance of more inclusive historical narratives as a pathway to pluralism.


Masterclass for History Educators

The Centre partnered with EUROCLIO and Aga Khan Foundation Kyrgyzstan in 2017 to run a 3-day masterclass in Osh, Kyrgyzstan for history specialists about promoting belonging and inclusion through history education. History education, under the right conditions, can contribute to making societies more inclusive and foster a sense of belonging.

How Historians in Ukraine and Canada study the past

In September 2017, the Centre interviewed Ukrainian-Canadian Olga Shapovalova, a former history student, speaking about her experience studying history in both Ukraine and Canada. One of the questions she asks is: can we have a history that is truly objective, even if the historian is aware of the limitations of sources and his or her own bias? [in Russian with English subtitles]

    Call for Papers and Forum on History and Memory

    In 2016, the Centre partnered with local institutions in Kyrgyzstan on a nation-wide call-for-papers (in EnglishRussian and Uzbek) to support research on aspects of Kyrgyzstan’s past as it relates to the country’s diversity. Local partners included the Central Asian Studies Institute at AUCA, the French Institute for Central Asian Studies (IFEAC), Bishkek Humanities University and Osh State University.

    Eight local researchers were selected and were paired with local and international mentors who guided them through research and writing. Participants conducted research and submitted their papers to the project’s international advisory committee for peer review. On December 12, 2016 the Centre hosted the Forum, History and Memory in Kyrgyzstan: Toward an Inclusive Society at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA). The researchers had the opportunity to present their key findings at this event.

    The Forum featured two international panel discussions moderated by Kyrgyzstani and international experts and featuring the eight researchers. The speakers discussed the theme of building inclusive historical narratives that reflect Kyrgyzstan’s diversity.

      Workshop with President’s Commission on History

      On December 13, 2016, the Centre held a workshop with the Commission on the Development of Historical Science under the President of Kyrgyzstan. The History Commission, a 25-person body, chaired by the President’s Office, has been tasked with reviewing national history textbooks, taking into consideration the country’s multi-ethnicity. The President’s Office invited the Centre and its project advisory committee to meet with the historians on the Commission and share their perspectives and expertise. The Centre also invited the programme director from the European Association of History Educators (EUROCLIO), an umbrella organization of more than 70 history, heritage and citizenship educators’ associations based in The Hague, to present their work on creating more inclusive historical narratives.

        Professional Development Workshop for History Educators

        On December 14, 2016, the Centre and EUROCLIO organized a 1-day professional development workshop targeted at history educators, curriculum developers, textbook authors and educational staff in museums. The objectives were to build the professional capacity of participants and generate interest for future work in this area. EUROCLIO used supplementary educational resources to demonstrate their inquiry-based teaching approach, using active methodology and working with historical sources. Participants included university professors, elementary and secondary school history teachers, members of the President’s History Commission, researchers and historians, as well as a few of the researchers from the Centre’s History and Memory project. Through this interactive workshop, participants had the opportunity to engage with unique historical sources and immerse themselves in EUROCLIO’s inquiry-based pedagogy. Participants learned about EUROCLIO’s use of alternative historical textbooks (see, for example: www.euroclio.eu/crossroad-of-cultures) and curriculum, which are currently used around the world.

          As a country, one of Canada’s greatest strengths is our respect for pluralism and diversity. At a time of growing divisions, fear of difference and threats of extremism, dialogue and respect are needed now more than ever to build open and resilient societies. The Canadian Embassy, through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, is a proud supporter of the History and Memory Project, and the promotion of peaceful pluralism, inclusion, and respect for diversity in Kyrgyzstan

          Shawn Steil, Canadian Ambassador