Yerlan Amirov | Kazakhstan | 2016
After a whirlwind month, the anthropology and archaeology program has bid farewell to its international scholar. From mid-February to mid-March, Yerlan Amirov from Kazakhstan lived and worked at Sweet Briar, conducting research, collaborating with faculty and teaching classes. Amirov says his time here has been golden. “For me, this is an amazing place,” he says. “The beautiful landscape, the open people, it was a gift.”
Amirov is completing his Ph.D. dissertation at the renowned al-Farabi National University — one of the oldest and most prominent universities in Central Asia. He has spent more than a decade excavating Iron Age burial mounds, some as high as 30 feet. After meeting Prof. Claudia Chang and adjunct instructor Perry Tourtellotte through a Ph.D. advisor, the three of them forged a cooperative relationship. As they worked together, Amirov observed that Chang and Tourtellotte approached research differently, using unfamiliar methodologies and technology. They asked “different questions,” Amirov notes.
Since Kazakhstan requires a fellowship or internship in the west, Yerlan decided to continue his research at Sweet Briar, spending one week in Phoenix, Ariz. He says, “I love the new research methods I have learned. Now I see my work as part of a bigger whole. There is more transparency.”
Tourtellotte agreed, saying that Amirov’s dissertation will be stronger and deeper as a result of his time working on campus.
Amirov plans to return to work or study in the U.S. again, but in the meantime he says he is “taking back to my country an entirely new view of science and culture.”