Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Faces of Ethnobiology:Murodbek Laldjebaev

My name is Murodbek Laldjebaev. I grew up in a small village of Kazideh in Ishkashim district of the Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan. Growing up in Tajikistan during the civil war and having lived through the difficulties of completing my secondary and university education in the post-war period, I learned the importance of rising above the challenges of life. As an undergraduate, majoring in English Language at Khorog State University, I realized that in order to achieve significant, long-term improvements in people’s quality of life, a commensurate investment in human development is required. Upon graduation, I worked for the Institute for Professional Development to enhance the quality of in-service teacher training programs in Badakhshan province of Tajikistan. During this period I developed a keen interest in education and joined the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Faculty Development Program. Under this program I completed my Master in Public Policy degree from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.  Now, I am pursuing doctoral studies at the Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, upon completion of which I will return to UCA as faculty member. 

 The field of ethnobiology is quite new to me, and I am interested in exploring the linkages with my work on rural energy systems. I would like to learn about methodologies that other researchers are using to investigate food, health, ecology and culture. How are they approaching the research design and data collection in ways that are sensitive to research participants? Can the research identify and address community needs adequately? I hope to establish connections with researchers and practitioners interested in mountain societies. These networks will be valuable for my current research work and when I return to the UCA upon completion of my studies. With three campuses located in mountainous regions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, UCA’s mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly addressing the needs of its mountain communities. Given this mission and the context of communities, I am interested in incorporating the insights from ethnobiology, particularly indigenous knowledge, in my research and teaching.
In three words, my research work focuses on “energy”, “livelihoods” and “rural communities”. Broadly, my interests span the areas of energy security, energy sovereignty, water resources management, food sovereignty, and energy-water-food nexus, particularly in Central Asia. For my doctoral research, I am developing a practical conceptualization of “energy security” and “energy sovereignty” through investigation of the energy needs and resources of rural communities in Tajikistan. The conceptualization of energy security and energy sovereignty is informed by drawing on the evolving discourse around “food security” and “food sovereignty”. As the research investigates household energy systems, a key element is to understand how households make energy decisions.  I am also interested in exploring the spatial analysis of energy systems, particularly how location and distribution of energy sources factors into energy use patterns of households.

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