Daniel Prior, Lecture “Riding through a Kirghiz Epic Poem”
In 1994 Daniel Prior and a Kirghiz assistant traveled 1,100 kilometers on horseback to trace the itinerary of the hero of a Kirghiz epic poem, Bok Murun. The six-week expedition, which passed through the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan and the steppes of southern Kazakhstan, revealed that the nineteenth-century oral epic contained a wealth of precise information about the geography and practicalities of the nomadic life of the Kirghiz herders. Prior also experienced the resiliency of a population facing the stunning collapse of the Soviet Union and the uncertainties of independence. In his slide presentation Dr. Prior will talk about the traditions and adaptations of the herders he met, the challenges of doing ethnographic research on oral traditions in post-Soviet Central Asia, and how field ethnography relates to historical research on folklore traditions.