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Guldana Salimjan "Gendered Narratives and Authenticity as a Strategy in Kazakh Oral Poetry Duel 'Aytis'" IAUNRC Brown Bag

Thu, Feb 26, 12:00 pm
Ballantine Hall 004

Guldana Salimjan, a Ph.D. student in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, will be giving a talk entitled "Gendered Narratives and Authenticity as a Strategy in Kazakh Oral Poetry Duel 'Aytis'" on Thursday, February 26, at noon in Ballantine Hall 004.

“Aytis is a form of oral tradition considered to be “authentic Kazakh culture” in both China and Kazakhstan. It is a performance of an improvised poetic duel between two aqins (folk poet, bard) accompanied by the string instruments dombra or qobyz. This working paper focuses on an aytis between a Kazakh female aqin from China and a male aqin from Kazakhstan that was staged for a Xinjiang Kazakh TV station in Urumqi, Northwest China around 2010.

Focusing on the two aqins’ contending narratives over gender ideals and cultural protocols in this aytis, I discuss how they flexibly strategize the performance of authenticity according to their distinct positionalities but also a transnational collective Kazakh cultural identity. The Kazakhstani male aqin acclaims his authenticity through gender and kinship superiority according to “traditional Kazakh culture.” As a counternarrative, the female aqin transgresses these same boundaries by demonstrating her authenticity as the real aqin with respectable virtues, language purity, and ethnic pride. This paper locates these tensions in the socio-cultural context of gender relations, national projects, and the multiple layers of power relations for Kazakhs in China and Kazakhstan. From this aytis, we see how language and gender work as crucial metaphors in the (re)construction of Kazakh cultural identity in national and transnational contexts, even as these national projects leave the current gender regimes unchallenged."

This is a talk in the Graduate Student Brown Bag Talks, designed to allow students to share their research, work, experiences and goals with their peers.