NOUR-SULTAN – A group of prominent Central Asian scholars has launched a peer-reviewed open-access journal titled Ketmen International Journal for Central Asian Voices on August 26 to challenge existing dominant perspectives on Central Asian Studies.
The first special issue of the journal is entitled Autoethnography of Spiritual Practices in Central Asia and includes scholarly articles on religion and identity.
Researchers have decided to take up the challenge of giving an “insider” approach to the study of Central Asia by launching a new journal.
These two projects [the journal and its first issue] originated on the pages of our large Facebook group titled Central Asian Academic and Analytical Writing Support Community. This is the community of Central Asian scholars and those with an interest in Central Asia who are passionate about increasing local Central Asian scholarship…. The goal was to help bring out local voices in the region and help us provide an innovative local and slightly experimental perspective on certain issues,” said Emil Nasritdinov, Associate Professor at the American University of Central Asia based in Bishkek, presenting the journal.
The journal, which is based out of the American University of Central Asia, will publish research in a variety of scholarly genres beyond traditional scholarly articles: essays, creative nonfiction, autoethnographies, storytelling, and oral histories. The creators also encourage authors to experiment with methodologies, analyzes and interpretations of their research.
The journal will publish two to three issues each year in English, Russian, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek or Turkmen.
The name of the journal – Ketmen – refers to a hoe used to dig soil for various purposes like tilling the soil, creating irrigation ditches, mixing clay for bricks, and building foundations for yurts.
The analogy behind the name is to think of the Ketmen newspaper as a tool to help “till the soil of the universities of Central Asia and dig irrigation ditches to water it and to connect the remote parts of the region to the to each other”.
“This will help dig the foundations for local academic knowledge houses,” said Nasritdinov.
The new review follows an attempt by a group of local scholars to “decolonize knowledge about Central Asia by providing authors with the platform where they can publish their scholarly work.
According to Nasritdinov, there are two dominant perspectives on Central Asia, particularly on religion in Central Asia, and one of them is the Western scientific perspective.
“If you look at Central Asian studies journals, the top 40 research on religion will give you 40 Western authors, and only two of them will have local names as co-authors,” he said. declared.
The second dominant perspective on religious matters in Central Asia comes from various international organizations that target issues of extremism and radicalization. Nasritdinov said local voices and local scholarship are gradually growing but still remain marginal.
“One voice that was really missing is the voice of scholars who are religious practitioners themselves or who think deeply about the question of their identity as scholars when researching religion,” he said. .