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Michael Hancock-Parmer "The Making of a National Memory: The Kazakh Folk-Song 'Elim-ai'" Brown Bag Talk

Wed, Apr 15, 12:00 pm
Ballantine Hall 004

Michael Hancock-Parmer, a dual Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and the History Department, will be giving a talk entitled "The Making of a National Memory: The Kazakh Folk-Song 'Elim-ai'" on Wednesday, April 15th at noon in Ballantine Hall 004.

"The history of the Elim-ai poem/song can be traced backwards from the present only to the middle of the nineteenth century. Its content, form, meaning, and associations have changed several times, despite its current status as a ersatz time-capsule of national suffering during the Kazakh-Jungar wars of the 1720s. When Elim-ai passed through the hands of 19th-century ethnographers and early-20th-century nationalists, the interpretation and nuance of the song associated the text with difficult migrations and lean years. Later, Russian-oriented Soviet scholars enshrined the text, first as a song of worker resistance to imperial colonization in the 1910s. Only gradually during the Soviet period did this song come to the forefront of early-18th-century Kazakh history.

How exactly did this song enter the heart of  twenty-first-century "Kazakh identity?" Aside from a sacrosanct image of Kazakh-ness, Elim-ai is also increasingly important to commercial interests looking to profit from patriotic sentiments. One can stay at any of a dozen Elim-ai hotels, send one's children to a similar number of Elim-ai nursery or music schools, cheer on the Elim-ai soccer team, enjoy a meal at any of an uncountable number of Elim-ai restaurants, or even use the Elim-Ai cell-phone plan!

This talk is a summary of a chapter from my dissertation on the Kazakh-Jungar wars of the 1720s and their utility in national memory and national identity."

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.