Two SEBA Professors present research paper in Harvard

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We proudly acknowledge AUCA students, faculty and staff that Dr. Jayarethanam Pillai and Dr. Kamila Kolpashnikova are going to Harvard to present their research paper on Gender Diversity in Kyrgyzstan.  


“Gender Diversity: What Can We Learn from Kyrgyzstan?”

Kamila Kolpashnikova, American University of Central Asia

Jayarethanam Pillai, American University of Central Asia


DATE: Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TIME: 12:15pm to 2:00pm

LOCATION: CGIS South S250, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA (USA)

Hosted by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University



Political and academic discourse on Central Asia frames the issue of gender equality in the region as being far out of balance. This interpretation reflects the ideology of orientalism permeating academic literature and represents the dominant view of the international community on gender equality in this part of the world. This framing, however, fails to distinguish historical and path-dependent differences between states building upon diverse legacies and cultural norms. Gender projects by various UN and other international agencies generally fallaciously assume the West is on a crusade to raise awareness among the local population on issues of gender equality. In reality, the pedagogy might do well to flow in the opposite direction. We argue that, among certain groups and states, several key markers of gender equality in Central Asia are in fact comparable – and often exceed – practices in the West. Using Kyrgyzstan as an example, we present an alternative narrative about this young nation of kyz Saikal, an epic woman warrior who fought Manas, and the first woman president in Central Asia, Roza Otunbayeva. By framing the story in a richer and more nuanced fashion, we demonstrate that mainstream discourse addresses only a sliver of a deeper reality, thereby calling into question the paintbrush approach to gender equality across the region.


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