The Central Asian Ethnojazz Laboratory: Music and Intercultural Understanding

  • Author / Creator
    Mukhtarova, Kanykei
  • Abstract
    The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the transnational social impact of ethnojazz, the synthesis of traditional music with jazz and contemporary music, as a grass-roots musical collaboration across the Central Asian context. Although fusions between traditional music and jazz had taken place during Soviet times, there have been more opportunities for such artistic collaboration since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the process has unfolded differently and with new meaning, particularly within the Central Asian Ethnojazz Laboratory project. My case is rather unusual in ethnomusicology. My research project was possible because I first developed a creative environment where ethnojazz evolved; it was only later that I realized I had also created material for my research.
    Examining music, interactions, and discourses of musicians brought together in a laboratory setting to create a collective musical composition, I explore how the musical experiences promoted mutual understanding among the different nationalities of the region while celebrating the cultural diversity of Central Asia, something that has been lacking in the national and ethnic conflicts both within and between nations. I study Central Asian ethnojazz in order to understand how its musical processes may facilitate multicultural dialogue, express national, regional, and musical identities in post-Soviet republics, and create new musical compositions reflective of these intercultural improvisations across the Central Asian region.
    Another major point of this dissertation is the role of the Bishkek International Jazz festival and its impact in spreading ethnojazz and stimulating the appearance of the other jazz festivals in the region. Moreover, I analyze the intentions of the international
    organizations and embassies in funding the Bishkek jazz festival and other jazz festivals in the region as a way to use “soft power”, while realizing their geopolitical interests and eagerness to win in a contested region. Ethnographic research at the Bishkek International Jazz Festival from 2006 to 2018 and the Ethnojazz Laboratory from 2014 to 2017 was possible because I was involved as the main organizer. From this vantage point, the Ethnojazz Laboratories became the case study for my research. My findings show that even though these projects were supported by Western funders and by this promoted their own interests, overall these projects helped musicians to generate new ideas, to build social and cultural connections, and express identities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.