Week 4 in Russia: Yekaterinburg, Tula, Leo Tolstoy's Estate

Friday, June 26, 2015

My train from Kazan pulled into Yekaterinburg right on time at 12.37 pm last Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, it was two hours later than I'd expected. I hadn't anticipated that the departure and arrival times written on my ticket would be according to Moscow time, rather than local. This wasn't an issue in Kazan, which is in the same time zone as Moscow, but created confusion for me regarding my arrival in Yekaterinburg, which is two hours ahead of Moscow. So, the arrival time written on my ticket was 10.37 am. They were right, of course. It was 10.37, in Moscow. 

Unlike Kool Moe Dee, I had absolutely no idea what time it was 

Week 3 in Russia: Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Samara

Friday, June 19, 2015

Well, Borderheads, we meet again. This week has been spent in central Russia, a.k.a. the middle Volga region. More specifically, I've been hanging out in Kazan, Ulyanovsk, and Samara.

It's been fun, and at times exhausting--especially during those long bus rides down poorly maintained roads. In fact, I was feeling so beaten up at times that I was a little bit reminded of this video by Bi-2: 

Sure they're getting a bit long in the tooth, but Bi-2 can still rock

Nevertheless, it's been a good time. Here are some of the things I saw this past week: 

Week 2 in Russia: Nizhnii, Kazan, and my take on the Turkish election results

Friday, June 12, 2015

Greetings once again, Borderheads, I hope that life is treating you well. As usual, this has been a busy week in the Eurasian borderlands. The big story, of course, has been the Turkish elections from last Sunday, with the (premature, in my view) celebrations of President Erdoğan's political detractors capturing much of the media attention surrounding Turkey over the past week. 

Read the subtitles to learn how to say 'heave-ho' in Russian

Personally, this week has been a really pleasant and interesting one as I've continued my travels through the Volga region of central Russia. I'm currently nursing a pulled muscle in my thigh as a result of some serious stair-climbing that I was involved with back in Nizhnii, as well as some very sore feet. That's okay, though--it's playoff time, and everyone is hurting. 

In any case, below are some photographs and comments about my trip, as well as my observations regarding events taking place now in Turkey. 

On the Road in Russia: Week 1

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hello again, Borderheads--or perhaps I should be saying Здравствуйте, товарищи. Whatever the language, greetings from the road. I hope you're doing well. 

On Saturday of last week I got up early, had a quick cup of tea and a poğaça, then grabbed a taxi to take me up the hill to the metro station en route to the airport. I was on my way to Russia.

Zemfira knows a thing or two about catching planes

My taxi driver was a guy called Şapka ("Cap"), so named, he claimed, due to his legendary comb-over. Şapka was visibly jealous when I told him my destination. "A young man like yourself should have a wonderful time there," he said wistfully, assuming that my visit had something to do with prostitutes. "Here you have to pay 300 Lira for the night." He opened the glove compartment to reveal an impressive stockpile of Viagra. 

Friday News & Propaganda: May 29 on the Road Edition

May 29, 2015

Greetings from Istanbul, Borderheads, I hope you're doing well. This has been a busy week for me, one involving travel and making plans for future escapades. But don't worry! I still haven't lost my connection to the mothership.  

Just let me put on my sunglasses so I can see what I'm doing

But more on my travels below. For now, I think it's worth indulging in a little taste of N & P...

Friday News & Propaganda: May 22 Edition

Friday, May 22, 2015

Greetings once again, Borderheads, I hope your week has gone well. Life has been proceeding apace up here in the northern Rockies, where upcoming travel plans have sent the Borderlands Lodge staff into a flurry of preparations. Mainly, I'm just trying to find ways of keeping my backpack from becoming a bookmobile.

Uncle Gabor and I are preparing for our upcoming night flight

News & Propaganda: Mid-May Fun at the Borderlands Lodge

Friday, May 15

Hello again, Borderheads, I hope this week's N & P finds you well. Life is moving ahead swimmingly at the Borderlands Lodge. A week ago, I submitted my final grades for the spring semester, and now I'm preparing for the summer. I'm going to be teaching a class online on modern Turkey and am planning on doing some travel in the Eurasian Borderlands.

The weather has been really windy and nasty here lately, but that's okay. Nothing lasts forever, even blustery days in May. 


News & Propaganda: Skoolz Out Edition

Friday, May 8, 2015

Greetings again, Borderheads, I hope you're doing well. As usual, things have been quite busy lately up here at the Borderlands Lodge. Classes at Montana State ended on May 1, and now the summer is finally upon us.

So I guess I can say that life is pretty good. 

But enough with the chit-chat. Here's the N & P:

Friday N & P: May 1 Edition

May 1, 2015

Hello again, Borderheads, I hope your week has been a good one. Life has been good up at the Borderlands Lodge. My schedule has been pretty full lately, involving a lot of planning and organization for my upcoming travels to the Eurasian Borderlands. 

Gabor Szabo always puts me in the right mood

Friday News & Propaganda

Friday, April 24

Greetings, Borderlanders! Life has been pretty busy of late up here at the Borderlands Lodge. Spring has come, again, to the Greater Bozeman Metropolitan Area, and the snows of last week have receded. 

The weather in Bozeman has been just amazing lately

Snowy Springtime N & P

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's been snowy up here lately in the northern Rockies. After a very mild winter which saw far colder temperatures and much more snow out east than out here, springtime has been snowy so far in Bozeman. It's getting better though. Today is a bluebird day, the first of several, apparently, to arrive over the next week or so. It's an encouraging development, to say the least, for denizens of the Borderlands Lodge.

Sign of spring: the return of the prairie dogs

Spring Break Fun at the Borderlands Lodge: Skiing, the Kurds, and the Disappearance of Vladimir Putin

March 15, 2015, 5:39 pm

Hi everybody--hope you're all doing well! Up here at the Borderlands Lodge, life has been pretty busy lately. The semester has been going well--this term I'm teaching an online course on Russian imperial history, and a seminar on women and gender in Islam. 

For the last week, however, we've been on Spring Break! Needless to say, it's been an exciting time. 

Assistant professors gone wild!


Turks Across Empires on the Ottoman History Podcast

February 17, 2015

Things have been pretty good lately at the Borderlands Lodge. Funny, how getting your first book behind you can relax the mind somewhat. 

That's right, I'm on the 'cast

Responding post-Charlie

January 16, 2015

A friend asked me the other day what I thought about the recent Charlie Hebdo events. What could I say? Obviously, they're terrible. 

In the wake of the murders of Charlie Hebdo's staff, there's been a fair bit of back-and-forth over the idea of re-running the cartoons. In considering this, I think it's worth making a distinction between those who would run the cartoons as part of the job of covering a news story, and those who want to see them run mainly out of an urge to make a point

On the one hand, I can see why press organs discussing the story would want to run some pictures in order to better illustrate the news. In such cases, people should not censor themselves, and should indeed be celebrated for their courage in standing by their principles in choosing to run cartoons that they think are essential to the story they're telling. On the other hand, those who choose to re-print the cartoons primarily to teach an imaginary audience a lesson ("This is how freedom works!") are not helping matters, no matter how well within their rights they (rightly) are. Inviting people to knock another chip off of your shoulder simply to prove your toughness ("bring it on!") is not an effective response to extremism, not when you're making life more unpleasant to potential allies. 

Republican Girls

January 10, 2015

I was working last week at the Atatürk Library in Taksim, checking out old copies of the newspaper Cumhuriyet. I didn't have anything particular in mind regarding what I was looking for. Indeed, my whole trip to Turkey has been this way--checking out library and archival holdings and seeing if I could find something interesting. 

Turkish beauties of 1930
Cumhuriyet was a semi-official newspaper in the 1920s and 30s, and very supportive of the Kemalist regime. Today it's an opposition paper, one that I read a lot in the 90s. I preferred to read Cumhuriyet because I thought its use of language was superior to that of most of the other Istanbul dailies that were available at the time, and also because it was about the only paper back then that didn't run pictures of scantily clad women that would distract me from my efforts to improve my Turkish. 

Notes from Istanbul

January 8, 2015

I've been in Istanbul for the past few weeks, working in various libraries in town and mainly searching for inspiration. With my book coming out last month and a grant from Montana State University to spend, it seemed like coming here would be a good idea.

While I don't feel particularly under the gun to get a new book project immediately underway or anything, I do have a couple of ideas that I thought might be worth exploring. Mainly, however, I wanted a change of scenery. While winter break is normally a pretty pleasant time in Bozeman--the powder has been pretty good, from what I understand--I really felt a need to get away and spend a bit of time thinking about what I'd like to do next. In any case, with a nearly five-week winter break--one of the advantages of teaching in a ski-town, I suppose--there's actually plenty of time for everything.