Jutta Wintermann


Jutta Wintermann
Department of Islamic Studies and Near and Middle Eastern Languages
Email: ju.win[at]gmx.de

Dissertation project

Title: Manas’ Forgotten Friend. The Manas-Epic and Identity Construction in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Monika Gronke (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann

There probably is no research paper on nation building in Kyrgyzstan after the disintegration of the Soviet Union that does not mention the Manas-epic.
The first president of the Kyrgyz Republic, Askar Akaev (1990-2005), had decreed Manas as a symbol of national unity and proclaimed the “Seven Principles of Manas” for all citizens of the state, irrespective of their ethnic background: generous and tolerant humanism, friendship and cooperation of nations, harmony with nature, patriotism, hard work and education and strengthening and defense of the Kyrgyz State.
When in 2009 the Manas-epic was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO at the request of China on behalf of the Kyrgyz minority in the country, this met with heavy protest in the Kyrgyz Republic.
While the Western scholarly world was well aware of the importance of the Manas-epic for the national identity in Kyrgyzstan, there seemed to be no further interest in the story told in the epic. For the greatest part this may be due to the fact that, as an oral epic, there is no authoritative version one could refer to.
Thus, an aspect that is of central importance for the story told in the epic goes unnoticed: Manas had an intimate friend. Often it is his friend Almambet in the fore and, next to Manas himself, he is the only one whose birth is told in the epic.
Even though this is some matter of controversy, the memory of the Uyghur general who defected to the Kyrgyz in the 9th century might be preserved in the figure of Almambet. This defection probably had been decisive for the Kyrgyz defeat of the then mighty Uyghur Empire.
The dissertation project aims at giving answers to why Almambet is not represented in public places and practically ignored in research, while his legends continue to be told with the epic. In comparing the depiction of the figure Almambet in different versions of the epic, questions on myth and history in the legends, on the role of national or ethnic identity, as well as on religion will serve as guidelines.

since Sep. 2016 - Research Assistant at the Collaborative Research Center "Macht and Herrschaft - Premodern Configurations in a Transcultural Perspective" (SFB 1167, TP Conermann), Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.

since Oct. 2014 – PhD student at the Bonn International Graduate School – Oriental and Asian Studies (BIGS - OAS), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.

2014 - 2016 – Research Assistant, Department of Oriental Studies, University of Cologne.

Feb.- Sep. 2013 – Research Fellow at the Central Asian Studies Institute (CASI), American University of Central Asia (AUCA), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; funded by a DAAD-scholarship.

2007-2010 – M. A. in Islamic Sciences, Major: Iranian Studies, Minor: Indonesian and English Philology. University of Cologne.

  • Book review: Pearls of Persia (Alice Hunsberger), in: Der Islam. Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur des islamischen Orients. Band 92, Heft 2 (2015)

  • Dichtung und Historie. Aspekte der Herrschaft Khosrous II. in Nezami’s Khosrou-o Shirin. Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg, 2012. (M. A.-thesis)

  • Winter 2012 / 2013 – Geschichte Zentralasiens. Department of Oriental Studies, University of Cologne
  • 2016 - The Concept of Iran and Turan in Literature and History. 17th Annual Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), Princeton Universität, USA.

  • 2016 - Weather and Magic in Epic Poetry and Historical Document. 5th Regional Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), Kazan Federal University, Russia.

  • 2015 – Manas vergessener Freund. Das Manas-Epos und Identitätskonstruktion im post-sowjetischen Kirgistan (presentation of the PhD-project), Iranistisches Kolloquium, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn

  • 2014 – Iran und Turan – Vom Mythos zur modernen Politik, Nachwuchstagung Iranistik, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn

  • 2014 – Workshop on Persian Manuscript Studies at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

  • 2014 – Workshop on “Intersections of History and Literature in Central Asia”, Central Asian Studies Institute (CASI), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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