Home / International scientific conference “Cultural Transfer in Central Asia: before, during and after the Silk Road”

International scientific conference “Cultural Transfer in Central Asia: before, during and after the Silk Road”

An international conference titled “Cultural Transfer at the Crossroads of Central Asia: Before, viagra dosage During and After the Silk Road” was held on September 12-14, visit this 2013 in Samarqand.

In continuation of the series of international colloquiums traditionally organized by the IICAS to scrutinize various aspects of the history of «silk» transcontinental arteries, and the conference was, nevertheless, organized under the aegis of two scientific structures. Greatly contributing, together with the IICAS, to the development of concept, organization of the conference and publication of its materials was a research consortium “Labex TransferS” representing leading scientific institutions of France – the National Center of Scientific Studies (CNRS), Higher Normal School (ENS) and ?oll?ge de France with the participation of the Swiss National Fund of Scientific Studies (SNF/FNS)1.

As one of the essential components of Michel Espagne-initiated “TransferS” program, the conference pursued no aim to suggest an absolutely new, closing concept of the development of the Central Asian questions, though new data and interpretations were expected to be suggested by the invitees.

The purpose was different and dependent upon the fact that one of the generic aspects of Central Asian cultures is accounted for by geographical location of the region at the crossroads of various historical-cultural areas and large transcontinental arteries, whether a center or a periphery of world empires. Central Asia is an ideal “contact zone” and “long-continued expanse”. According to historical scenario, the region has been subject to semantic changes in the meaning of separate elements of “confronting” cultures, their re-formulations, consecutive “translations” increasingly different from original to thus create new texts, images, practices or artifacts. It was the contacts between Alexander the Great and Scythes, between Sogdians and Chinese or Arabs, Uzbeks and Tajiks or Iranians, and later on between Russians and Europeans that predetermined the reproduction by the cultural-geographical area of the very complicated stratigraphy of transfer, both synchronously and diachronically. With its multi-vector non-linear interchanges, this complex stratigraphy made the region more attractive for testing a theory of “cultural transfer” at the moment of its overrunning purely “western” limits where it helped previously to better understand the process of crystallization of modern Europe2.

Thus, departing from previous works that empirically scrutinized many phenomena of the Central Asian history, the conference set an aim to verify the viability of intellectual constructions and models of the theory on the basis of the new European material.

Until recently the theoretical comprehension of “cultural transfer” has not gone beyond the scope of European cultures, including the Russian culture, even despite the fact that some elements of such an analysis have repeatedly been used by archives for studying Central Asian materials3. In an attempt to expand initially Europe-centric orientation, the conference made it possible to verify methodological approached of “cultural transfers” and effectiveness of its basic definitions (ways of movement, conductors, translators, innovations, mastering of “the new”, impropriation, semantic shifts, etc.) by Central Asian materials. Note that the point is largely about the post-Soviet Central Asian expanse and contiguous territories of Siberia, Xinjiang, Afghanistan, Iran and Azerbaijan.

The attempt of applying the theory of “cultural transfer” in relation of the analysis of the history of Central Asian region is structurally different from previous studies on the subject. Not bounded by a specific historical period or local frames, whether national or ethnic, and declining from adopting a leading role of a certain “center”, the conference summarized some aspects of the subject in terms of “long-lasting” historical period. It did not seek to embrace all aspects of the Central Asian history but focused on identification of geographically significant cultural zones and turning points of transfer that led to the rethinking and reformulation of source data in the course of transition from one cultural context to another. In other words, a special emphasis was, in the first turn, laid on the analysis of various semantic displacements, not only the reconstruction of political and cultural programs of another invaders.

Such a statement of the question did not restrain a disciplinary sphere of analysis – the phenomenon of “cultural transfer” in the Central Asian context cannot be conceived within the framework of one discipline only – but instead called for harmonization of different specializations. Archaeology, history, anthropology, histories of art and cinematography, histories of religions and philosophy, linguistics and literary criticism are mutually complementary in terms of the theory of “cultural transfer” that operates with all the complex of cultures, including the histories of humanitarian knowledge and sciences that enabled to identify this dynamics.

The same logic is echoed in chronological range of the conference. Research issues are not a mere amorphous mass based on common territorial principle; it is an ensemble that makes it possible to identify significance of the theory of “cultural transfer” in the “long haul” and probable scope of its application on the basis of varied materials.

From this standpoint, the composition of its participants was logic as well. Attending the conference were 36 researchers from Uzbekistan, France, Switzerland, Russia, Italy, England, Iran, Korea, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

Hence, the chronologically grouped research works were united into a sort of mutually related blocks that paid tribute to the existing tradition and made perception of the whole ensemble easier to comply with a dominating principle of narrow specialized scientific knowledge.

The first block was represented by a number of reconstructions of “cultural transfer”, starting from the prehistoric period to the Sogdian epoch (10 millennium B.C. to 9 A.D.). Based on archaeological materials, iconography and literary sources, the research works are indicative of numerous transfers in the Central Asia and at the same time refer to repeated cases of refusal from transfers.

The second block was concentrated on the analysis of «transfer» mechanisms mainly in the Middle Ages (8 to 15th centuries) in the field of literature, religion, art; on identification of the role of mediators or bearers of these transfers, both animate (scholars, poets, philosophers) and inanimate (books, petroglyphs).

The third block dealt with formation of scientific discourse of the Central Asia in the 19-20 centuries. It was united around some reference points, including the reinterpretation of Chinese Turkestan and South Siberian studies by German or German-Russian researchers; various aspects of interest in Central Asia (travelers – collectors, literary men and art critics); attempts to revise scientific conceptions, including of the Silk Road.

Related to themes brought from outside, updating and adaptation from inside, the fourth block scrutinized complex processes in the 19-20th centuries when Central Asia was a part of the Russian Empire and later on of the Soviet Union, as well as in the first decades of independence. The point here is about adaptation of the new, deliberate reinterpretation of the image of Central Asia in the colonial and post-colonial periods, interrelations between the center and periphery in their dynamic rearrangement and reappraisal, peripeteia and dialogue between specialists – representatives of various scientific communities and institutions.

The conference was over by presenting collected articles4 that provided results of joint reflections about potentialities of methodological approaches of «cultural transfer» by example of Central Asia. An enlarged and updated version of the collected works will be published in 2015 in French by Vend?miaire (Paris).

The maiden step on this track – theorization at the junction of empirical studies and broader intellectual comprehension (in particular, synthesis of the work done) – is expected to draw new parallels with identical types of transfer in other cultural regions and thus lead the theory of “cultural transfer” out of narrow European framework.


  1. The conference was organised by Shahin Mustafayev (IICAS, Samarqand), Michel Espagne (research consortium «Labex TransferS», research group «German Countries: History, Culture, Philosophy [UMR 8547: «Pays Germaniques: Histoire, Culture, Philosophie»], CNRS-ENS, Paris), Svetlana Gorshenina (Swiss National Fund of Scientific Studies – SNF/FNS, University of Manchester and University of Lausanne), Claude Rapin (scientific group «Archaeology and Philology of the East and the West» [UMR 8546 AOROC], CNRS-ENS, Paris) and Frantz Grenet (?oll?ge de France, Paris).
  2. The theory of «cultural transfer» arose in mid-1980s in terms of the development of French Germanic studies and initially concerned the two countries – France and Germany. Based on philological and literary studies of the earlier 1990s, the theory was used for analysis of multi-vectoral situations on a broader historical and geographical background that included various political and cultural interrelations on Europe’s territory (France, Germany, Russia, Italy; English-speaking countries, as well as those of Middle and Eastern Europe). The method involved extension of humanitarian disciplines – from the history, histories of art, architecture and urbanistics to the history of science. For details see: Michel Espagne, Michael Werner (?d.), Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (XVIIIe-XIXe si?cles), Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1988; Katia Dmitrieva, Michel Espagne (?d.), Transferts culturels triangulaires. France-Allemagne-Russie, Paris: Edition de la MSH, 1996; Michel Espagne, Les transferts culturels franco-allemands, Paris: PUF, 1999; ?katerina Dmitriyeva, «The Theory of Cultural Transfer and a Comparative Method in Humanitarian Studies: opposition or continuity?», ??????? ??????????, ? 4. ?????????? ??? ? ?? [??????????? ??????]. ??????? ??????, 2011, URL: http://magazines.russ.ru/voplit/2011/4/dm16.html
  3. In particular, architects have for long time been encountered interactions between various cultures, testifying to multi-level meetings and transformations between the classical world and its peripheral spheres. As for earlier stages, the theory of «cultural transfer» has recently been approved by Fr?d?rique Brunet: Transferts et interactions dans la tr?s longue dur?e en Asie centrale et m?ridionale: http://www.reseau-asie.com/userfiles/file/a02_brunet_diffusions_techniques_cultures.pdf
  4. See. Complete E-mail version of the collected works: https://www.academia.edu/4500105/Cultural_Transfers_in_Central_Asia_before_during_and_after_the_Silk_Road_coedited_with_Shahin_MUSTAFAEV_Michel_ESPAGNE_Svetlana_GORSHENINA_Claude_RAPIN_Amridin_BERDIMURADOV_Frantz_GRENET_ParisSamarkand_IICAS_2013_312_p