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Selected works of Chokan Valikhanov published in English for first time

18 December 2020 10:29
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Selected works of Chokan Valikhanov published in English for first time

LONDON. KAZINFORM Cambridge University Press, in partnership with the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK and with the support of the Akimat of the Kostanay Region, Kazakhstan’s National Bureau of Translations and the Chokan Valikhanov Institute of History and Ethnology launched the first ever English-language collection of selected works of Chokan Valikhanov, one of the most prominent Kazakh scholars of the 19th century.

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The ‘hybrid’ event at the Royal Geographical Society was attended by Jane Mann, Managing Director of Cambridge Partnership for Education at the University of Cambridge; Erlan Idrissov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the UK; Professor Ziyabek Kabuldinov, Director of the Chokan Valikhanov Institute of History and Ethnology; translator Dr Arch Tait; and Nick Fielding, British writer and editor of the book. Annie Michailidou, Head of Global Engagement at Cambridge Partnership for Education, was the master of the ceremony.

In his short lifetime of only 29 years, Valikhanov contributed immensely to oriental studies. He is widely known in Kazakhstan’s history as an extraordinary scholar, ethnologist, geographer, cartographer and artist, the Kazakh MFA’s press service informs.

In his welcoming speech, Ambassador Idrissov noted that despite the historical and scientific significance, Valikhanov’s works are not widely known in the English-speaking world.

«It is hard to overstate the importance of Valikhanov for the history and culture of not only Kazakhstan, but also those of Central Asia. His writings shed light on many aspects of the life of the peoples of this significant region. And today we present the collection of works by Valikhanov translated for the first time since four of his works were published in English in 1865,» he added.

The volume presents Valikhanov’s most important scholarly works, which are devoted to exploring aspects of the geography, history, ethnology and economics of Central Asia. For English-speaking readers, these works fill an important gap in researching the history of the region.

Ms Mann noted that Cambridge University Press is a leading publisher of books on history and anthropology and adding a Kazakh author in the list of books on these subjects will be another important landmark in the history of the publishing house.

«Many of the essays in the collection we present today have been translated into English for the first time, making them more easily accessible to students, researchers and wider audiences who speak English. Like others involved in the project, I hope this will have a lasting impact of greater inclusion of Valikhanov’s works in the Western canon of writings on Central Asia,» she said.

Professor Kabuldinov noted that when selecting materials for translation, the Chokan Valikhanov Institute of History and Ethnology aimed to focus on articles describing the history, traditions and customs of the Kazakhs and other peoples of the region, the Kazakh judiciary system, as well as the author’s democratic views, including those on reforms that were useful for the people.

Dr Tait read several excerpts from Valikhanov’s works he translated into English for the first time. He also noted that as a junior official in the Russian Empire, Valikhanov did his best to deflect the heavy hand of his superiors from disrupting the traditional way of life of the Kazakh people and to see them treated with the respect they deserve.

Mr Fielding noted that the idea of publishing the works of the great Kazakh scholar in English was conceived in 2017 during one of his trips to Kazakhstan where he met Professor Kabuldinov. He also gave a detailed account of Valikhanov’s life, starting from his childhood and his time studying at the Omsk Cadet Corps to expeditions to East Turkestan and Kashgar, which were carried out with great risk to the life of the Kazakh ethnographer.

About 100 guests from around the world attended the event, including from Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Poland and Turkey. The live broadcast of the launch on Facebook gathered over 500 views.



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