Student Research Project: Research in Uzbekistan 2004
Erol Yildiz: Memories of life and death - About Uzbek men dealing with memories of life
With the help of the GO EAST program I was able to devote myself to the task formulation "Memories of life and death - About Uzbek men dealing with memories of life" as a scholarship holder of the DAAD from June to September 2004 in Tashkent an in Samarkand. I am as well interested in the understanding and the common cultural intercourse with the phenomena of "life" and "death" as in the different and individual perceptions of both of the terms by the Uzbek people. The memories of the Uzbek on past things deal with almost almost all areas of life. Seldom it occured to me that one of the interviewees was not willing to talk about his or hers memories.
Memento portrait of decedents, July 2004 (Foto: E. Y.)
Thanks to the scholarship I was able to travel to Uzbekistan - for the first time. Because I knew nobody in Uzbekistan I had to win over local people for my project. Often my efforts failed because of suspiciousness but as time passed I succesfully found people who supported me.
The questionings I did mainly with male Uzbek of all age groups. I also questioned members of the Kazakh, Kirghiz, Tatar and Tajik minorities.
Deaths, births and marriages often took place in close proximity to my accommodation so that I often got a "ruxsat", a permission and allowance to capture photos and to conduct conversations. Though I had the permission to photograph ceremonies during obsequies, I didn't take photos during the ablution of the deceased and the body carriage. I could no longer in good conscience take photos and disturb the mourners. Not only I followed funerals, the mourner's prayers, food being served to the mourners as well as the 40 days of compassionate leave, as a member of the mourners I was involved in the whole events. Without any problems I was allowed to take photos during the ceremoniel hand over of the newborn from the staff of the hospital to the parents and the welcoming of the newborn by his kith and kin at the parental home. Prayers and food being served were celebrated as a thank here as well.
In Tashkent I was often travelling by taxi and used the opportunity to interview the taxi drivers. Many of them were talking about their lives during the taxi drive, for instance they talked about their deployment in the former German Democratic Republic as a soldier of the Red Army. These memories of life I am considering in connection with the task formulation.
The Ma´naviyat Publishing House in Tashkent also supported me. The manager of the publishing house, Mr. Sunnat Ahmedov, offered me his help by providing and commenting on Uzbek literature about "Life and death".
In Samarkand it worked out for me to visit the probably most influential and richest family in the area of Samarkand in their palace. I had permission to interview the family about their life, how they reached so much richness and how that richness was and is used to influence the political and social action.
During the realisation of my work in Uzbekistan there were a lot of problems. Words like "ruxsat" - "ruxsatnoma", permission - written permission (written allowance) were words that I often was confronted with in Uzbekistan. Like I must not visit the State University of Tashkent because it was term break. A permission to have a look at the university from the inside or even the library wasn't given to me.
My presence and my questionings in the Sebzor district of Tashkent were massively interfered by the local militia (police). Furthermore I was seen as a disruptive factor by some people in the neighbourhood which apparently were pressing hard on the local militia to expel me from the district. After showing all document that were needed for my stay and thanks to the supporting of the residents in Sebzor who were campaigning for me I was eventual able to continue my work.
last update : 05 December 2011