2-week railway journey through Central Asia to develop conceptual and methodological approaches

Scholars, practitioners, and artists are invited to join The Zhelezka Project: On the Tracks through Central Asia, an experimental mobile summer school taking place from August 19 until September 3, 2023

The Experimental Mobile School aims to generate a unique space for young researchers’ networking and developing conceptual and methodological approaches.

During a two-week railway journey through Central Asia, they will be applying and enhancing novel, mobile methodologies for creating new knowledge about lesser-explored and multicultural places and exploring transport infrastructures, mobility regimes, and lives of communities along railways.

Interaction, methodological and theoretical experiments, and collaborative and creative research formats aim to establish a new strong scholarly community in the region with its own academic voice willing to contribute to elaborating mobile and decolonial methodologies and epistemologies of studying Central Asia.

A group of twenty researchers, practitioners, and artists will travel by train from Astana through Almaty, Shymkent, Tashkent, Nukus, Bukhara/Kagan, Andijan, Osh, and, finally, to Bishkek.

During two weeks on mostly Soviet-era trains on the rails, commonly known as ‘zhelezka,’ the group will focus on exploring life on and off the railroad by unraveling specific travel and mobility practices, documenting urban and rural landscapes, collecting stories of strangers, local communities and railroad workers in three countries of post-Soviet Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. Some activities will include lectures, workshops, meetings, excursions in cities on the way, collaborative projects, a final workshop in Bishkek, documentation, and publication of findings.

The project is supported by the Volkswagen Foundation and administered by the Social Innovations Lab Kyrgyzstan, the American University of Central Asia, and the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography. The project proposal was developed by a group of researchers from Central Asia: Zarina Adambussinova, Zarina Urmanbetova, Indira Alibaeva, Sofya Omarova-du Boulay, and Hikoyat Salimova.

To apply, please, send the following info to silk@auca.kg by April 10:
• First name, last name, and title
• Occupation, affiliation
• Description of your interest in the Summer school (up to 300 words)
• Description of activities you intend to conduct in the school (up to 500 words)
• Place of departure to the school
• CV