About Us

We are a group of social scientists from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Germany. We spent  four years studying this transboundary river and developed a virtual exhibition to share our insights. All our work was only possible with the wonderful support of riverside communities in Shamaldy-Sai, Kazaly, Naryn, Fergana and Hujand. We would particularly like to thank local schools, activists, and municipalities in these sites. The live and online exhibition also benefited greatly from the work of participants at our river-events, translators, artists and technical personnel. Our sincere gratitude also goes to our institutional partners: the Shamaldy-Sai Women’s Council (Kyrgyzstan), University of Central Asia, and University of Tübingen (Germany). A special thank-you to the Volkswagen Foundation (Germany) for supporting our research and funding the live exhibition, and to the Open Society Foundation (U.S.A.) for funding  the virtual exhibition project.  

Online exhibition managers: Gulzat Baialieva, Aibek Samakov


Adham Ashirov is a Professor of Ethnography, Ethnology, and Anthropology and the Head of the Ethnology Department Institute of History, Uzbek Academy of Sciences. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the Uzbek Academy of Sciences in 2000, and the Doctor of Sciences Degree in 2009 from the same institution. His research focuses on traditional knowledge, rituals, and folklore. His latest projects included extensive ethnographic research of the diversity of traditional Uzbek cuisine across the country. His most recent publication “Water in the Uzbek Culture (Tashkent, 2020) can be found here.

Gulzat Baialieva is a Ph.D. candidate at the department of Social Anthropology and Cultural AnthropologyUniversity of Tübingen. She holds an MA degree in Political Science from the Central European University (Hungary), and a graduate diploma in European Civilizations from Bishkek Humanities University (Kyrgyzstan). She writes regularly for openDemocracy. Her research interests include environmental anthropology, digital ethnography, social media and socio-political transformations in Central Asia.

Dr. Jeanne Féaux de la Croix is a social anthropologist and leads a junior research group on Environment and Society in Central Asia at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Together with Dr. Mohira Suyarkulova, she leads the Volkswagen Foundation research project on the ‘Social Life’ of the Naryn/Syr Darya). Her publications on water and energy issues, age relations, and resilient ways of living in Central Asia can be found here. She is also currently co-editing a Handbook on the Anthropology of Central Asian Worlds with Madeleine Reeves and a book on Environmental Humanities in the region with Beatrice Penati.

Aibek Samakov is a PhD student at the University of Tübingen. He holds a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of Manitoba (Canada) and Specialist Diploma in International Relations from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. For many years, Aibek has been working for Aigine Cultural Research Center (Bishkek) and has participated in extensive research of sacred sites and traditional knowledge in Kyrgyzstan. He also serves as consultant at the Kyrgyz Republic’s National Commission for UNESCO.

Mohira Suyarkulova, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Trained as a political scientist/international relations specialist, she currently identifies as an ‘undisciplined scholar’ working on the intersection of academia, activism and art. Her recent research interests include environmental politics as well as politics of gender and sexuality in Central Asia.

Technical Support Team

Cholpon Alamanova is a book illustrator and also authors the online comic strip Chomix. Since 2015 she has been teaching folk arts and the craft of Kurak in her Bishkek studio. Cholpon is a member of the Union of Artists of Kyrgyzstan. Her artwork has been exhibited in Belgium, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.