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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T003790/1
Title: GCRF Resilient Silk Route Cultural Heritage Network
Principal Investigator: Köchümkulova, Dr E
Other Investigators:
Crang, Professor MA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aga Khan Foundation Kyrgyzstan Gulmit Educational & Social Welfare Soc ICOMOS (Intermational)
Laajverd University of Oxford
Department: Graduate School of Development
Organisation: University of Central Asia
Scheme: UKRI
Starts: 15 July 2019 Ends: 14 July 2021 Value (£): 149,814
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Cultural Geography Development Studies
Heritage Management Regional Development
Sociology and Development
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Mar 2019 GCRF GE Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The proposed network speaks to the cities and sustainable infrastructure theme, especially conservation and cultural heritage with the role (mountain) cities and towns play as constellations of knowledge and culture. It will deliver under SDG11 for inclusive, safe and resilient cities on sub-themes 11.3 on inclusive planning and 11.4 on cultural heritage. New transport connectivity driven by China One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative offers new hopes and opportunities to communities in mountainous regions of Central Asia. However, increased connectivity also carries the potential to introduce significant new societal challenges in regard to benefits and their (possibly unequal) distribution, as well as challenges for socio-cultural resilience and the mobilisation and protection of intangible and tangible local cultural heritages. Rapid changes pose threats to the conservation of traditional practices but also opportunities to develop them as resources (such as craft production and tourism sites) and also mobilising and developing them further as heritage assets. All too often, rapid and externally driven development has commodified local cultures, to be packaged for sale - with both control and most economic benefits going to outside developers. This is especially true of mountain, borderland communities whose interests are very often subordinated to state imperatives for territorial control and security. The proposed GCRF network will address such needs and help to preserve the local cultural heritages of formerly isolated mountain towns and, furthermore, keep these cultural heritages alive - as integral aspects of modern societies with clearly articulated pathways of cultural continuity. The network will aim specifically to develop capacities for interventions that focus on empowering (formerly) remote mountain towns and cities, enabling them to maintain greater control over their own cultures, development, and economic benefits.

The network takes this forward in the context of huge infrastructural development in terms of planned transit corridors to ask how this hard infrastructural development intersects with built heritage and the soft infrastructure of intangible heritages and culture. The current level of infrastructural planning largely has been driven at national levels by strategic regional visions, and most often has ignored or inadequately incorporated the needs and wishes of local communities. The resilience of local cultures to the 'shock' of the largescale development and increased connectivity currently affecting and rapidly changing the target region needs enhancing. Current ways of life and socio-cultural practices may be profoundly disrupted by all these changes, even as they bring new opportunities. Current infrastructural developments are introducing many, new economic imperatives, new contacts and new pressures and new demands on fragile socio-ecosystems systems - including encounters with tourists and traders alike, with all the new possibilities to sell products more widely. Immediate gains may be possible, for example through appropriate tourism and craft production opportunities, but these must be situated in the context of socio-cultural viability and global markets for products.

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