Muhiddin Faizulloev Research Project


This collection contains digital representations of field notebooks and a photo collection provided by ethnographer Muhiddin Faizulloev. It supports active research in the Center for Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University into both the Tajik people and the evolution of the social sciences and academic institutions in the USSR.

Faizulloev studied ethnography in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) in the early 1970s and later in Moscow and completed his dissertation after a long struggle against established authorities. Over the course of his career Faizulloev accompanied more than thirty ethnographic and archaeological expeditions and produced many field notebooks. He worked with Sergei Polyakov (Moscow State University) and Valentin Bushkov (Moscow Archive), two prominent Russian ethnographers who have published extensively on the Tajik people.

The material presented here dates from ethnographic expeditions in Tadjikistan between 1972 and 1995. In 2014 Faizulloev was guest at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University and agreed to make this primary research material available to a larger public to contribute to a differentiated view of ethnographic research during the Soviet period in Central Asia. During that time Sophie Roche and her Research Group on Central Asia transcribed all field notebooks and conducted several interviews with Faizulloev on the material he provided and information collected at that time has been used to enrich the collection metadata.

Secondary material

In addition to the source material the project has started to collect and produce secondary material.


Work on the Faizulloev collection commenced in 2014 with an agreement between the Cluster of Excellence and Data Futures to use the freizo software platform for rapid prototyping of metadata and development of contributor workflows for multi-lingual transcription. freizo produces JSON-based digital collections which are designed to be portable independent of infrastructure technology. Detailed knowledge of Russian as well as Tajik is essential in this project - which also has German research documentation and presentation in English.

By mid 2015, all of Faizulloev's notebooks were digitized and transcription work was advanced for several of the expeditions, using multi-language texts linked to the manuscripts in a freizo annotation workflow. The group of contributors to the project had been expanded to involve Tajik native speakers working remotely. MODS and VRA metadata outputs were specified enabling the freizo Faizulloev collection to generate XML for direct installation in the Cluster's Tamboti collection management system for wider access and maintenance by Cluster researchers.

In the Autumn of 2016, with availability of Open Annotation support by the Mirador IIIF presentation project, a IIIF-based annotation workflow was created for the freizo Faizulloev collection and OADM versions of the existing transcriptions generated.

In January 2017 the Centre for Transcultural Studies contracted Data Futures to migrate the Faizulloev research project from Tamboti to freizo - integrating the freizo collection with a Mirador-based reseaarch workflow and public internet presentation. The collection currently contains thirteen notebooks and is nearing completion for transition of the service supporting researchers from Tamboti to freizo.


Until October 2017 the full project will remain accessible only to the research community. However, an example IIIF and Mirador-2.2.2 presentation of one of the Faizulloev notebooks is available: Field Notebook Tajikstan: Khujand 1972. It allows browsing of the notebook pages using the thumbnails at the bottom (the three dots turn off the thumbnail display) and detail viewing is possible using the mouse or trackpad to zoom. Click the 'i' button at the top right to see metadata about the notebook, and click the 'bubble' button at the top left to see the annotations - if you mouse-over the boxes around text areas the transcription will pop-up.


University of Westminaster Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies Europa Institute Institut d'Asie Orientale Princeton University