TORONTO, May 6, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - On Saturday, May 9, a series of events at the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum will launch Cities of the Dead: Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan. Through funerary architecture, this unique photography exhibition from Professor Margaret Morton captures complex religious and cultural identities existing together in Kyrgyzstan – and offers hope for a more peaceful and inclusive future in this fragile region.
Located at a crossroads of civilizations on the historic Silk Road, Central Asia has long served as a bridge, connecting a diversity of peoples and cultures. Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous country bordering Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, is situated in this strategically important yet deeply fragile region. A former Soviet republic, Kyrgyzstan is a diverse country actively exploring ways to create a more peaceful and inclusive society in the face of external pressures and internal divisions. Today, the region is once again at a crossroads of stability, identity, and economic possibilities.
Canada's longstanding cooperation with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has expanded in recent years to include support for the network's most ambitious educational investment: the University of Central Asia (UCA). As UCA prepares to open its first of three campuses in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, in 2016, Canadian partnerships are playing a crucial role in the development of the institution – and the region – at large.
Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan is part of the University of Central Asia's Cultural Heritage Book Series, a growing collection of works by regional and international scholars aimed at preserving Central Asia's unique and diverse cultural heritages through research, documenting, archiving and supporting regional scholarship.
Presented by The University of Central Asia, in partnership with the Global Centre for Pluralism, the Aga Khan Museum, and the Aga Khan Council for Canada , the exhibition opens with a symposium featuring photography, anthropology and political science scholars exploring key themes of the exhibit, followed by a keynote lecture and book launch.
Schedule of events for May 9, 2015
Cities of the Dead Symposium
Scholars explore the role of multiculturalism, tradition and identity in Kyrgyzstan and the implications for nation-building in a fragile and divided society.
- Margaret Morton (Cooper Union) – Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan
- Elmira Köchümkulova (University of Central Asia) – Respect Graces the Living, Lamentation Graces the Dead: Kyrgyz Funeral Lamentations and Lamenters
- Jeff Sahadeo (Carleton University) – History and Memory: Implications for Pluralism in Kyrgyzstan and the Ferghana Valley
4:30PM to 6:30PM
Aga Khan Museum, Bellerive Room, 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto
Tickets: $20 for adults; $10 for students and seniors
Cities of the Dead Book Launch and Keynote Lectures
Margaret Morton will take the audience on an illustrated journey through Kyrgyzstan. Professor Nasser Rabbat will discuss the diversity of funerary architecture in Islamic history and Dr. Elmira Köchümkulova will provide context for the cultural practices of the Kyrgyz people. A moderated discussion, Q&A, and book signing will follow.
8:00PM to 10:00PM
Ismaili Centre, Social Hall, 49 Wynford Drive, Toronto
The Cities of the Dead: Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan exhibition (open from May 9 to July 30, 2015) are part of Cities of Arrival – a curated program of events being held throughout 2015 at the Ismaili Centre that explores the pasts, presents and futures of cities and urban life, and critically imagines how humanity will share the most densely populated spaces on our planet.
About the University of Central Asia
The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000 following the signing of the International Treaty and Charter establishing this secular and private university by the Presidents of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. UCA's mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain societies, while at the same time helping the different peoples of the region to preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritages as assets for the future. UCA seeks to contribute leadership, ideas, and innovations to the transitioning economies and communities of the region through modern educational and vigorous research programmes that produce knowledgeable, skilled and creative graduates. For more information, please visit: ucentralasia.org
About the Global Centre for Pluralism
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, not-for-profit international research and education centre located in Ottawa, Canada. Inspired by the example of Canada's inclusive approach to citizenship, the Centre works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, believing that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world. For more information, please visit: pluralism.ca
About the Aga Khan Museum
Open to the public on September 18, 2014, the Aga Khan Museum is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage. Housed in a unique building designed by Pritzker Laureate Fumihiko Maki, the Museum's Permanent Collection of over 1,000 objects includes masterpieces that reflect a broad range of artistic styles and materials. These portraits, textiles, manuscripts, manuscript paintings, ceramics, tiles, medical texts, books and musical instruments represent more than ten centuries of human history and a geographic area stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to China. For more information, please visit: agakhanmuseum.org
About the Ismaili Centre, Toronto
The Ismaili Centre, designed by renowned Indian architect Charles Correa, is part of a network of Centres – located in Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe – which host programs that stimulate the intellect, encourage dialogue, and celebrate cultural diversity. For more information, please visit: theismaili.org/ismailicentres
Media Notes: Accredited members of the press are required to register for these events and we are happy to provide complimentary access at no charge.
SOURCE Aga Khan Council For Canada
For further information: and to register, please contact: Faiza Hirji, Tel: +1 289 921 0578 / [email protected]