PULLMAN, Wash — Cholpon Japarbekovna Turdalieva is a visiting scholar, in the United States, hoping to uncover facts the history books in her own country are missing.
Utilizing grants from The Open Society Institute (OSI), Turdalieva is at Washington State University conducting this research and conferring with her mentor, Marina Tolmacheva, associate dean, College of Liberal Arts. Tolmacheva is also former Director of the Asia Studies Program and was instrumental in bringing Turdalieva for her first visit to campus in 1999. OSI’s Central Asian Research Intitiative (CARI) brings together scholars from Central Asian and Western universities to promote faculty research and curriculum development. Tolmacheva is advising Turdalieva on research strategy and methodology and the two are collaborating on developing a course for the Institute of Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Kyrgyz Pedagogical University.
Turdalieva is a native of Kyrgyz Republic, a landlocked country in Central Asia west of China that won its independence Aug. 31, 1991, from the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan totals only 12,334 square miles making it just smaller than the state of South Dakota. According to an official government Web site, Kyrgyz Republic has the world’s largest natural growth walnut forest and a critical water contamination problem. According to Turdalieva, there is also a lack of historical perspective regarding the incorporation of this Central Asian region into the Russian and Western sphere of influence in the 19th century. The overview of her project says she hopes to “explore without ideological pressure and have access to archival and published materials of European explorers and travelers to Kyrgyzstan.”
After her three-week stay in Pullman, Turdalieva travels to the University of Washington in Seattle to gain access to archives on that campus. In Spring 2003, Tolmacheva will travel to the Kyrgyz Republic to review project implementation, consult with Kyrgyz colleagues, and give a series of lectures.
OSI, the group funding Turdalieva’s research, is a private operating and grantmaking foundation that develops and implements a range of programs in civil society, education, media, public health, and human and women’s rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform. According to the Institute’s Web site, OSI was “established in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros. Based in New York City, OSI is at the center of an informal network of foundations and organizations active in more than 50 countries worldwide. Grants cover a range of activities aimed at building free and open societies, including the strengthening of civil society; economic reform; education at all levels; human rights; legal reform and public administration; media and communications; public health; and arts and culture.” To learn more about the institute, visit the site: www.soros.org.