Natalya Khokholova

Associate Professor of Humanities, Yeoju Technical Institute in Tashkent

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies?

I grew up under the strict guidance of my maternal grandmother, who was a celebrated professor of Russian Language and Literature in the region. Thus, from an early age, I was surrounded by the volumes of works (the Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii) by Dostoevsky, Lermontov, Pushkin, and Tolstoy (arranged alphabetically), and by a variety of didactical materials on the Russian language. I began reading when I was four. My first book was by Pavel Bazhov, The Tales of Ural, and the second one in both Yakut and Russian, the national epic Olonkho, under the adaptation of Platon Oyunskii. After these two books, filled with folk wisdom and magical rhymed chants and spells, I became a believer in the power of words and language structure. This first encounter with sensitive but powerful worlds and the experience of reading shaped my life mission and vision as an educator and researcher.

Since human interaction was scarce, I wanted to learn about the people and cultures of my great and enormous country, the USSR. I used to read incessantly andProfessor Khokholova and Students at YTIT practiced my writing skills by writing novels and plays. When my privileged and “boujee” cousins would visit from Moscow, they would often exclaim: “You’re looking so aboriginal and dark, but your Russian is so sophisticated for your looks and age! No one would say that you live and attend school in Yakutian countryside!” The books, the surroundings, the relatives from Moscow, and explosive events such as the Chernobyl disaster (my first year in school, 1986) and Perestroika (the 1990s) made me curious about the precarious fragile world, mechanisms, and people of the USSR. It fueled a drive in me to battle and resist racism, “Strange Russianness”, the disparaging and growing gap between poverty and wealth, and climate fluctuations in that hemisphere of the world. I have become an excellent farmer and business owner, but an even more excellent teacher and a researcher due to my restless mind and imagination.

What support have you received throughout your career that has allowed you to advance your scholarship?

During my Ph.D. formative years, I was awarded a FLAS fellowship for studying Turkish and Near-Eastern cultures. Toward my last year at UIUC, I received funding for completing my dissertation. Thanks to Professor Andrew Wachtel I obtained a position at American University in Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and finally managed to finish my dissertation. He gave me a sense of confidence in my teaching and gave me access to the most beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan.

What is your current research project?

I plan to launch the course on the study of re-civilizing/re-educating the strayed children “lost and found children,” bringing them back to the system of the established norms of the social order and language. The selected stories, where the child’s mind comes face to face with wilderness, range from encounter with Victor of Aveyron via Truffaut’s lens, to Karina Chikitova’s miraculous survival.

Professor Khokholova with Students at YTITI am also preparing a contributive piece on monstrous children in Film. Traditionally, children are vulnerable and permeable to circumstances and parents to which they are born. Often the stories of horror from the West and superstitious folkloric beliefs of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Gaelic origins feature the concept of “changelings” as the basis for featuring a victimized, neglected, and abused child. However, the more modern narratives of the post-seventies horror movies represent the revenge of neglected and undesired children. These stories feature children-“heroes” (slayers) who revolt against suffocating materialism (consumerism) that is hostile to the organicity of life and childhood. The later productions, post-millennial films, tell horror stories where formerly the victimized children turn into dangerous entities seeking revenge.

The study of cases where children are no longer silenced and aborted victims, but the punishing and dangerous entities that play like haunting re-constructive/deconstructive agents in the story where the law of the father was violated will be drawn off primarily Freud’s work Totem and Taboo (1913) and the works in the field of linguistics and psychoanalysis by such authors as J. Lacan and F. De Saussure.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and hobbies do you enjoy?

My hobbies and interests are yoga and Australian cinema, studying, hiking in Kyrgyzstan, marketing, making organic dog food, and observing the occult and supernatural.