Ma’na Lab
A multidisciplinary space to reflect on
and reimagine the future of Central Asia

Applications are open until May 22
Ma’na Lab
A multidisciplinary space
to reflect on and reimagine
the future of Central Asia
Applications are open until May 22
  • In recent years, global, regional, and national developments have sparked a growing demand to engage in collective reflection about the past, present, and future of the region of Central Asia. Collective memory, decoloniality, cultural appropriation, identity, power structures and dynamics are just a few threads of the emerging public discourses.
  • At the same time, there is a lack of cross-border multidisciplinary platforms in the region that offer safe and brave space for deep thinking processes, critical discussions, and collective reimagining of current patterns of action and thought.
  • Responding to this need, Ma’na Lab invites artists, writers, bloggers, journalists, creators, researchers, and civic activists from all five countries of Central Asia to embark on a journey of exploration and dialogue.

Ma’na Lab is a space to

reflect and exchange on root causes of the existing tensions across societies

question prevailing narratives and assumptions

embrace alternative storylines and views

foster pathways towards healing and solidarity

nurture horizontal relationships and multi-disciplinary collaborations

Ma’na Lab builds on a core belief that we cannot contribute to the positive transformation of our societies without making inner transformations in how we think, how we work, and who we are.
Ma’na Lab builds on a core belief that we cannot contribute to the positive transformation of our societies without making inner transformations in how we think, how we work, and who we are.
Ma’na Lab: the Learning Journey
Ma’na Lab: the Learning Journey
May 3–22
May 3–22
Application Period
Please, check if the program is right for you before applying.

To apply, please, fill out this form.

All participation expenses are covered by the organizers. Participation is based on a competitive selection process.
May 13
May 16
May 13
May 16
Ma’na Info Sessions
Time commitment: 45 min (online)
Short online information sessions provide an opportunity to better understand the Ma’na Lab curriculum, meet the facilitation team, and ask any questions in person.

The first session is held in Russian. The second is in English. Content-wise, both sessions are the same.
June 13
June 13
Ma’na Inception
Time commitment: 2 hours (online)
The online orientation session helps participants get to know each other and learn about the people, ideas, and stories behind Ma’na Lab.
June 21–23
June 21–23
Ma’na Online Intensive
Time commitment: 3 days x 4 hours each day (online)
The online workshop invites to delve into various dimensions of current societal transformations in Central Asia. Accompanied by thinkers and practitioners from the region and beyond, the participants engage in analysis of historical and cultural contexts and reflect on complex dynamics that are shaping lives of communities in the region.
July 20–28
July 20–28
Ma’na Residency in Almaty
Time commitment: 7 full days from July 21–27 inclusive, arriving evening July 20, departing morning July 28 (offline)

Location: Dom 36 (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
Learning, sharing, creating, and experimenting are the four pillars of the Ma’na Residency. It is process-oriented and provides time, space, and resources to inquire into collective memories, existing relationships with oneself, each other, and Central Asia as a region, and to explore potential for a thriving and resilient future. To nurture individual and collective processes of reflection and exploration, the Residency team offers a carefully curated mixture of inputs, encounters and interactions both within the group, with invited experts, and with local communities. By the end of the Residency, the participants identify an area or topic they want to explore deeper and develop a project idea they will be working on over the next three months.

The Ma’na Residency will take place at the House on Baribayev 36 (“Dom 36”). Learn more about the space.
July 29 — October 20
July 29 — October 20
Ma’na Studio
Time commitment: depends on the project, up to 2 months
Back home, the participants work on their own projects, either individually or in collaboration. This could include writing an article, creating an artwork, giving a performance, running a podcast, conducting research, engaging the community, developing educational materials, etc.
November 15–16
November 15–16
Ma’na Reflection Space
Time commitment: 2 days x 4 hours each day (online)
The two-day online meetup invites the participants to exchange on their experience after completing the Ma’na Lab learning journey and reflect on the key implications for their professional practice as well as for civil society and the arts landscape of Central Asia.
December 5
December 5
Ma’na Gala
Time commitment: 3 hours (online)
The final open event aims to foster public discussions on social and cultural transformations in Central Asia by sharing the outcomes and projects developed within Ma’na Lab with a broader audience.
What you can expect

Immersive learning experience
Carefully crafted and curated content
Space for reflection and depth
Please, don’t expect

Boring lectures with endless slide decks
Networking for the sake of networking
Ignored elephants in the room
What you can expect

Immersive learning experience
Carefully crafted and curated content
Space for reflection and depth
Please, don’t expect

Boring lectures with endless slide decks
Networking for the sake of networking
Ignored elephants in the room
Ma’na Lab is a program for you if you are
Ma’na Lab is a program for you if you are
  • looking for spaces to rethink current and future pathways of Central Asia
  • eager to engage in dialogue with thoughtful individuals from across the region
  • ready to share your experience
  • open to experiments
Ma’na Lab has a limited capacity
Ma’na Lab has a limited capacity
There will be a competitive selection process based on the following criteria:
profile
you are currently working with pressing ecological and societal challenges in your communities or within your artistic work
you have a citizenship or residence in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, or Uzbekistan
you can communicate and work in both English and Russian
you are over 18 years old
motivation
you are ready to explore societal narratives
you are ready to develop and implement your own project
you want to incorporate learnings within the program in your professional context
you are open to collaboration with other participants
you are committed to participate in the full cycle of the program
All participation expenses are covered by the organizers. Participation is based on a competitive selection process.
Speakers & Experts of Ma’na Lab
Speakers & Experts of Ma’na Lab
  • Altyn Kapalova
    Artist, art historian, anthropologist, activist
  • Galym Zhussipbek
    Independent researcher and scholar
  • Dr Jean Boulton
    Author of the book “Embracing complexity”, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at University of Bath, UK
  • Kuanysh Zhaikov
    CEO at DESHT Institutional Transformation Group
  • Svetlana Kolchurina
    Producer of projects focused on the actualization of cultural heritage
Meet the Ma’na Lab Team
Meet the Ma’na Lab Team
  • Indira Shah
    Ma’na Lab Content Designer and Facilitator
  • Zoya Lukyanova
    Ma’na Lab Content Designer and Facilitator
  • Karlygash Mukash
    Ma’na Lab Program Engagement Manager
  • Ruslan Kildeev
    Ma’na Lab Producer and Visual Facilitator
  • Indira Shah
    Ma’na Lab Content Designer and Facilitator
  • Zoya Lukyanova
    Ma’na Lab Content Designer and Facilitator
  • Karlygash Mukash
    Ma’na Lab Program Engagement Manager
  • Ruslan Kildeev
    Ma’na Lab Producer and Visual Facilitator
Ma’na Lab is implemented by Impact Hub Almaty
Ma’na Lab is implemented by Impact Hub Almaty
and supported with German Federal Foreign Office’s funds by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), zivik Funding programme.
Got questions?
Got questions?
Graphic design and illustrations — Ira Khvan.