The History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Results and Perspectives

5 December 2005

On the occasion of the completion of this six-volume series devoted to the history of the civilizations of Central Asia, a round table was opened at UNESCO on Monday, 5 December by the Director-General, Mr Koichiro Matsuura. Several members of the international scientific committee in charge of the project and the editors of Volumes IV and VI of this series participated in the round table, whose purpose was to summarize the results of the programme and future perspectives.

The Director-General recalled that the UNESCO regional histories are descended directly from the History of the Cultural and Scientific Development of Making, the “gigantic enterprise” launched by Julian Huxley in 1946. These histories are “exemplary illustrations of intercultural dialogue in research activities of international scope…the result of this work constitute an contribution to advancing peaceful co-existence among nations and peoples”, he noted. This ambitious undertaking, carried out with the close collaboration of hundreds of specialists and academics from the regions concerned, includes four regional series devoted to Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central Asia, along with a thematic series entitled The Different Aspects of Islamic Cultures.

The Director-General insisted on the necessity of promoting understanding and dialogue among cultures and civilizations in a world where accelerated globalization both brings together people and creates new tensions, the result of mutual incomprehension and ignorance. In this respect Mr. Matsuura considered that the histories contribute to better understanding and recognition of the role played by the different countries of the region, especially with regards to development. They are also a useful complement to the various activities carried out by UNESCO in favour of the dialogue between civilizations, the preservation of cultural diversity, and the intangible and tangible cultural heritage.

Concerning the History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Mr Matsuura praised the international scientific committee, which had met the challenge of presenting, for the first time, a complete panorama of the complex history of this vast region, from the Paleolithic to the end of the twentieth century. The Director-General also thanked the academics and researchers from Central Asia and the rest of the world who collaborated on this work. “This interdisciplinary team has contributed to increasing our knowledge of Central Asia in all its complexity and diversity, while at the same time enriching our understanding and appreciation of the universalities of exchange and diversity in human history”, he declared.

On this occasion a diploma and the medal of the 60th anniversary of UNESCO were awarded by the Director-General to five of the most senior members of the scientific committee: Professor Adle (Tajikistan), who chaired the committee following the assassination of Professor Asimov in 1996; Professors Sinor (United States of America) and Dani (Pakistan), Vice-Presidents of the Committee; Professor Miroshnikov (Federation of Russia); Professor Bira (Mongolia). The other members of the committee, Professors Alimova (Uzbekistan), Bosworth (the United Kingdom), Farhadi (Afghanistan), Tabyshalieva (Kyrgyzstan), Palat (India), Togan (Turkey), and Umemura (Japan), and the editors of the various volumes will also receive the medal of the 60th anniversary.

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