Kyrgyz Republic

Indira Aslanova (2012 ISSRPL)

Indira Aslanova is an Assistant professor at the Religious Studies Department, Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University, Kyrgyzstan. She graduated from the same university and during her graduate study spent one year in Egypt. Her current PhD research is related to interreligious dialogue between religious majority and minorities. She is also interested in Muslim identity in Kyrgyzstan. Indira was selected by the Study of the United States Institute on Religious Pluralism in the United States in 2010. She is a member of the Public Supervisory Council under the State Committee of Religious Affairs and a coordinator of the research and analysis department in the Research Centre of Religious Studies which is a nongovernmental organization and focused on developing religious studies in Kyrgyzstan as well as on promoting religious and ethnical tolerance in the society through education.

Zemfira Inogamova (2008 ISSRPL)


Zemfira Inogamova is a Researcher at the Aigine Cultural Research Center in Bishkek and lead field research in Talas province of Kyrgyzstan. She has conducted research in Talas province in 2005, exploring local ethics of mazar (sacred site) reverence local religious phenomenon and ethics of presenting knowledge of sacred sites on maps to pilgrims. She has graduated from Cultural Anthropology Department in American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan. She is also interested in anthropological study of pastoralism and land use in Kyrgyzstan, local ecological traditional knowledge of the Kyrgyz shepherds’ on climate change and its possible impacts on mountains in certain research areas, sustainability, deep ecology, cultural resilience, ecology & religion and research ethics.


Elena Molchanova (2007 ISSRPL)

I was born into a family of geologists, which was very active and throughout the years traveled a great deal. My parents were amazingly tolerant toward other religions and opinions of different people. During the high school years I had already made a choice of my career (Psychiatry) and my adviser. My professor (Valery Solojenkin) in the Department of psychiatry at the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy became my first teacher in the field. After graduating from the University, gaining a master’s degree in Psychiatry and after several years of practice as a doctor—psychiatrist in various departments of the Republic Center of Mental Health in Kyrgyzstan, I received candidate degree in Medical sciences. The topic of my dissertation was dedicated to ethno-cultural differences in the emotional expression (e.s. alexithymia) of patients with somatoform disorders. Before joining the faculty at the American University in Central Asia, where I currently teach such courses as cognitive psychology, counseling and psychological testing, I participated in a number of clinical research projects. Today my clinical and research activity continues. I’ve been a senior clinical expert in two departments (Department of Acute Psychosis and in the Department of Psychotherapy in the Republic Center of Mental Health) for 10 years and have collaborated for two years with the cultural and research center “Aigine”. Working with the Aigine team gave me the wonderful opportunity to meet Adam Seligman and Robert Weller and to take part in their seminar, dedicated to understanding rituals in traditional Kyrgyz society. This particular academic year was filled with stimulating research, exploring unique abilities of traditional Kyrgyz healers, balanced between official Islam and ancient traditional beliefs. We received some interesting neurological, physiological and psychological data, which seemed to be quite similar to Russian researches of shamans in Khakasiya and Sokha. Currently my research interests have an interdisciplinary character: I am interested in the interaction of anthropology and psychology, and interested in using fractal geometry principles in psychiatry and psychology.

Gulnara Aitpaeva (2006 ISSRPL)

Dr. Gulnara Aitpaeva is Director of Aigine Cultural Research Center, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Her initial research interest was Kyrgyz folklore and Kyrgyz historical novel. She defended two dissertations, wrote a monograph and taught a variety of folklore and literature courses. In 1999 she created the Kyrgyz Ethnology Department at American University in Kyrgyzstan, with the mission of developing a new social anthropology and facilitating connections and collaborations among social scientists of Central Asia. In 2002 she took the initiative of transforming this department into the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology to expand its scope and mission. From 2001 to early 2004, she was Vice-President for Academic Affairs at American University Central Asia and in spring 2004 she, along with two colleagues, founded the Aigine Cultural Research Center with the missions of expanding research into lesser known aspects of the cultural and natural heritage of Kyrgyzstan, integrating local, esoteric and scholar epistemologies relating to cultural, biological and ethnic diversities. With the support of major grants from the Christensen Foundation, Aigine has been conducting an extensive collaborative research project involving local healers, ritual specialists, the epic tellers, other spiritual practitioners in studies of sacred sites (mazars) of Kyrgyzstan. This project has been innovative for the fieldwork, conferences and workshops in which practitioners, scholars, and local university students have all participated. We have published extensive documentation and made a detailed map of the sacred sites. Concentrating on cultural and biological dimensions of mazars, studying and supporting the processes connected with them including rituals, life stories of the guardians, herb healing, and various forms of traditional mediations, Aigine works on the processes that promoted and continue to promote the recovery and stabilization of many people and possibly the building and maintenance of a healthy and dynamic society.

Alisher Khamidov (2005 ISSRPL)