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. 

 




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.

The Borderlands Lodge 2014 Year in Review

December 31, 2014

In many ways, 2014 was a terrible year for the world. Up at the Borderlands Lodge, however, it wasn't so bad. Actually, it was a really good year in some ways, even as I empathize with those who've been through tough times lately.  
Let's keep it afloat in 2015

With this in mind, here are the top events that took up the attention of the Borderlands Lodge in 2014. Remember, these are not in any particular order of importance--some of these developments are of concern to the world, others are mainly of interest to me personally. Rather, these are the things that, five years from now, I think I'll most likely remember about this year.  

Christmas in Turkey

December 25, 2014

Back when I lived in Turkey in the 1990s, I used to love the anonymity of Christmas in Turkey. Perhaps not surprisingly, few people celebrate the holiday--about 99% of the country is Muslim, while many of the Greeks and Armenians in Turkey observe Christmas in January. In fact, most of the people that I knew in Turkey didn't realize that Christmas was December 25th. They knew that Christmas existed, but thought it was January 1. 

Dreaming in Ottoman

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I was at the Apple Store recently to get the battery on my Mac replaced. Apparently, if you burn the Mac for 18 hours a day for months on end, certain parts begin to wear down. I guess that's something to keep in mind for my advancing old age. 

While I was at the store, I mentioned that I work on Turkey (naturally, I was selling copies of Turks Across Empires out of the back of my car in the parking lot of the mall). It turns out that one of the employees of the Apple Store was a Turkish guy from Istanbul, who was dutifully marched out to meet and converse with me. When I told him I worked on Ottoman history, he jokingly asked me if I was planning on returning to Turkey to work as a language teacher. 

Turks Across Empires: Excerpt

Wednesday, December 3

These have been exciting times up here at the Borderlands Lodge. As I mentioned in my post from the other day, I spent the days before Thanksgiving attending conferences in San Antonio and Washington, DC, and had the good fortune to finally hold my book in my hands! It was a lot of fun, and a day that I wasn't always sure I would manage to see. 

The book is on sale on the website of Oxford University Press and Amazon, and should begin to crop up in other places, too. It's quite expensive right now, as it's a hardcover, but hopefully the hardcovers will sell out and the book will go into paper production, which will end up being cheaper. So---be sure to recommend the book to your local library, for now. Later, you can buy the paperback yourself.

Hittin' the conference circuit

November 26, 2014

As a Turk across empires, I’m no stranger to travel. Even for me, however, the last several days have been pretty tiring. ‘Tis the season for my annual scholarly conferences, so it’s been a pretty hectic week. 

On Thursday of last week I flew down from Bozeman to San Antonio in order to attend the ASEEES conference. ASEEES is the Association for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, which used to be called AAASS (fondly known as ‘Triple Ass”) until they changed it a few years back to bring “Eurasia” into their name. I think the Slavicists who run ASEEES thought they needed to acknowledge the fact that folks like me work on Muslims, yet couldn’t think of a way of doing so without mentioning “Asia.” Typical.

Meyer Mideast Talk in Bozeman

Tuesday, November 11

These are the last days of summer up here at the Borderlands Lodge. Yes, it's true--summer has continued into November in south-central Montana. Not only has there been virtually no snow in town--and only a smattering in the mountains--but also the weather has generally been warm, sunny, and relentlessly beautiful.

I've celebrated in a number of ways. One has been by hiking, with great trips in recent weeks to various spots in Montana and Yellowstone.

It's also been a pretty busy time lately--and getting busier. On Wednesday this week I'm giving a talk at the Emerson cultural center in downtown Bozeman on Wednesday. The talk, called "Tough Times in the Middle East," would be familiar to regular readers of the JMB in that it discusses politics relating to Turkey, various Kurdish forces, and the Islamic state. 5 pm is a pretty early start time, I think, so I have no idea how many people will show. If you've got friends in the County of Gallatin, tell them to stop by. 

Feeling autumnal at the Borderlands Lodge...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Well folks, these have been pretty busy and exciting times up here at the Borderlands Lodge. My book, Turks Across Empires, is apparently going into production this week, which is very exciting, and is supposed to begin shipping within the next few weeks. Those of you with academic affiliations: get your library to buy the book! Once the hardcover copies have been sold out, TAE will hopefully go into paperback and presumably be much less expensive.

On coalitions, the Islamic State and the Kurds

Monday, Sept. 15, 2014

Like a lot of people, I've been appalled by what's been going on in Iraq. I wonder, however, if Obama and others are over-reacting to horrific videos that have been released in recent weeks. My sense is that ISIS/ISIL/the Islamic State/Sonic Death Monkey, or whatever they're calling themselves this week, will burn themselves out before too long. It's hard to believe that a regime so brutal could survive, particularly when they can't even decide on a name. 

End of Summer Fun at the Borderlands Lodge

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Well folks, it's been pretty busy lately at the Borderlands Lodge. Longtime Borderheads might remember that I've been writing a book this summer, and much of August was spent poring over the final draft. I made an index for the first time in my life. I looked at cover proofs and wrote pithy advertising text. I did stuff I'd never done before. 

Are you a Turk across empires?
Once my work with the book ended (it's still slated for publication next month), I had to get busy with my tenure materials. One nice thing about the digital age is that most of the documents that I needed for my file were already on my computer, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

While I've been really busy with the book and tenure, in my spare time I've been trying to stay away from my computer. I've gone on a number of great hikes this summer, which has been fabulous, in addition to reading a lot (offline, ie on the couch with my feet up and a book on my belly) when I haven't been working on work and career-related stuff. That's not such a hard thing to do when you live someplace beautiful. 

Malaysian jetliner downed over eastern Ukraine: What next?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Up here at the Borderlands Lodge, we've been closely monitoring the big news surrounding the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine. People are still trying to figure out the facts, of course, but at this point it looks like separatists in eastern Ukraine likely brought it down. 

Flight path of the doomed jetliner