14 December, 2015: Nienke van der Heide

Title: The Authority of Dreams: Night-time revelations and their impact on daytime life in Kyrgyzstan. 15:30-17:00h, Room 1.A11, Pieter de la Court building

About Nienke van der Heide

Nienke van der Heide is lecturer at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. She conducted two years of intensive fieldwork in the 1990s in Kyrgyzstan, concentrating on the role of the oral epic Manas in state building after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2015, she returned to study the relevance of dreams in social and political life.

Dreaming as a social affair

How can we understand the phenomenon of dreaming from a social angle? Dreaming is a vital but enigmatic part of the human psyche that is - although experienced individually - deeply embedded in social structures. Whereas hegemonic modernist discourses have tended to overlook or downplay the importance of dreams in social life, counternarratives in which dreams take centre stage are found all over the world.

In Kyrgyzstan, many people award their night-time visions an authoritative role, allowing the images and words they encounter to influence their creativity and life choices. For this, dream sharing is a decisive social activity in which social, individual and sacred interests are juxtaposed. Paying attention to dreams then becomes a way of being in the world in which enigma and ambivalence are allowed to shape social and political life.

For Leiden Anthropology Blog Nienke van der Heide wrote the blog 'When dreams shape our day'.

Research seminars & workshops Fall 2015

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