Nienke van der Heide

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Nienke van der Heide is a lecturer of Cultural Anthropology at Leiden University, the Netherlands. She conducted research on the socio-political context of the Manas epic in Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s, based on two years of fieldwork in Bishkek and several villages in Narïn and Ïssïkköl oblast, where she worked closely with Manas narrators, political leaders and common people of various ethnic backgrounds. After writing her PhD thesis, she shifted her interest to ideas of the body as a spiritual entity in alternative medicine in the Netherlands. She currently works to integrate the field of Manas narration and bodily spirituality by linking them to processes of globalisation that reveal an intricate interplay between socio-cultural diversity and our shared humanity. She has taught at the American University in Kyrgyzstan, Utrecht University and Amsterdam University College. Before turning to Kyrgyzstan, she conducted field research in Spain, Scotland and Namibia. 

Selected publications: 

2008: Spirited Performance, the Manas epic and Society in Kyrgyzstan (new edition forthcoming); 2004: Epic as Arena - Models of Statehood and the Kyrgyz Manas epic in: Epic Adventures – Heroic Narrative in the Oral Performance Traditions of Four Continents, J. Jansen, H.M.J. Maier (eds),  LIT Verlag, Münster, and 1999: The Last Manaschi – a Contradiction in Terms in: The Nature of University Education and Research, Conference Proceedings. American University in Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek.