American University of Central Asia - AUCA - SPOTLIGHTS


Aida Abdykanova, Anthropology dep. professor

"Anthropology is not just a theory, but the practice. It is not something abstract and distant, it is all around us"

- Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you study and work before the AUCA? What projects did you work on? Maybe you can tell us about some kind of achievements you have.

The choice of the profession - Archaeology I have made back at high school. While studying at the Faculty of History at National University named after J. Balasagyn (KNU), I have made my decision on the area of my ​​interest - Archaeology of the Stone Age. Since there is a lack of educational institutes especially for archeologists here, after graduation, I got my postgraduate studies at the Institute of Archeology at the Ethnography SBRAS (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences) in Akademgorodok near Novosibirsk. Three years passed very fast. In summer, there was a field work and school in Altai and Khakassia, and the rest of the time there were exams, work on dissertation, trips to the conferences. I think I was very lucky, I gained a lot of knowledge in practice, and I was surrounded with people who helped me when it was, there were many people to take an example from. My first independent and largest project was my dissertation, which was devoted to a series of Paleolithic in Western Kazakhstan. As you probably know, The Stone Age is unique by the fact that almost all the archaeological materials of this period are made by stone tools. The Stone Age takes 99.9% of the history of mankind, and often stone tools are the only ones, that can help us to shed some light on what was happening on the Earth back then. Imagine, thousands and thousands of stone tools, and each of them are being thoroughly examined, described, drawn, classified, analyzed, and as a result, we can say who made and used them, what kind of lifestyle did they have when it was initially used as stone guns. In about two months after I graduated my postgraduate studies, I began to work at AUCA.

- How long have you been teaching at AUCA?

Since January 2007, it is my sixth year of work here.

-Why AUCA but not another university?

I have been asked many times about it, and usually I used to jokingly reply that nowhere elseI was offered a job. If to be serious, this is somewhat the truth, the Department of Anthropology of AUCA needed archaeologists, so they offered me a job.

- In the overseas, there are many universities with the Department of Anthropology. Why did you decide to teach here in Kyrgyzstan?

As a representative of my generation, who had studied abroad I was also faced with the dilemma of choosing work and country of residence. Naturally, I am a very homely person, I missed my native land, to close and dear to me people, here are my roots. Even now, when I have to leave for the conferences, internships, studies it is hard for me, I always want to return and just for the sake of my beloved work I perform such feats.

- What courses do you teach?

At AUCA I'm teaching such courses as Introduction to Archaeology, Archaeology of Central Asia, Eurasia’s Prehistoric Art, Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Co-evolution of man and culture, peoples of Siberia and the Far East.

-Anthropology is a rare profession. What kind of work on this profile can be found in our country?

While analyzing where our graduates work nowadays, I can say that anthropologists have a broad scope of "application”. This means that an anthropologist can work almost anywhere where it is needed to know the people and their fields of activity, on the market, policy, analysis, fundraising, movies and etc. Therefore, among our graduates you can meet teachers, managers, researchers, translators, analysts, consultants, etc. If one wants to focus on working as an anthropologist, then I can allocate the research sector - all universities, museums and research institutions of the country. For example, the Aga Khan University recently became very active in terms of anthropological researches and offering the anthropological courses. NGOs in Kyrgyzstan, a large number of NGOs are seeking for young professionals with knowledge of the region. Government agencies, it can be counseling departments and analytics.

- AUCA students, what are they? What differs them from students of other universities?

Yes, they very much differ in their motivation for learning, responsibility, hard work, activity and curiosity. Most of them are realists and know what do they want.

- What advice would you give to prospective students of anthropology? What does one need in order to study at this department?

First of all, a sincere desire to study anthropology. The problem is that what is anthropology is not well understood. But above all, for the humanities it is a huge field for the activities and opportunities, anthropology as a science which studies the a unique phenomenon as person in his biological and cultural aspects, this is not just a theory, but the practice. It is not something abstract and distant, it is all around us, by which we live, and all the charm lies in the fact that it is not only us, but also all the others, from the world of mankind.

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American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028