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

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 their name 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.”

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

The Borderlands Lodge rises up from the ashes...

July 9, 2014

Well Borderheads, it's been a pretty wild few weeks, that's for sure. The Borderlands Lodge has been the site of some major brushfires lately, all of which are at least partly of my own making. That's life in the borderlands, I guess. 

The work began immediately after my return from Turkey in the second week of June. I'd had a great month of vacation, and came back to the Bozone feeling pretty refreshed. And then I got the copy-edited version of my manuscript. 

So, my life was pretty much taken up with my book until about one week ago. In fact, it was Independence Day that I sent off my final version. I'll have a look at the proofs later this summer, so I've been told, but all substantial changes have been made. 

I feel good about it. Writing a book is a totally stressful process. It's also been fun, but putting the finishing touches on something that's been part of your life for more than a decade isn't easy. I got interested in the pan-Turkists at the end of my second year at Princeton, back when I was an MA student. I started learning Tatar in the summer of 2002, at Kazan State University. That was also my summer researching in government archives for the first time. I got my feet wet at the NART archive in Kazan, then had an absolutely humiliating experience in St. Petersburg--where the Russian state history archive (known as RGIA) had been transformed into a netherworld dystopia in the months prior to its move from the embankment.

RGIA was a bit intimidating back in 2002

Who's got İhsanoğlu-mania?!?

June 17, 2014
The opposition parties in Turkey have chosen a presidential candidate: it's Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu!

Who? What?  
The first round of the election will be on August 10, and will proceed to a second round if no one wins more than 50% of the vote. While Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has not yet formally declared himself a candidate, pretty much everyone expects him to run--and win. 

Misreading Iraq, reading the world

June 15, 2014
One of the many unpleasant aspects involved with reading about the current crisis in Iraq undoubtedly relates to having to subject myself to American press coverage of the Middle East.

Such was the case with a video appearing in the Washington Post the other day. The video, produced by senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung, purports to 'explain' the 'Sunni-Shiite divide' in the span of just a couple of minutes.

Predictably, the story it recounts begins a long, long time ago....

Media coverage of non-western countries tends to focus upon the alleged timelessness of contemporary conflict. 

The Iraq Crisis: What it could mean for US, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan

June 13, 2014
On the flight back to the Borderlands Lodge from Istanbul yesterday, I read with great interest about the recent developments taking place in Iraq. To say the very least, it was very disturbing.  
From the accounts I've seen, fighters from ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also sometimes known as ISIL—the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) had overrun Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an important oil-producing center. And now they are apparently advancing on Baghdad. 

Anatolian Express XVI: Back in the City of the Sultans

June 11, 2014
My day started very early in Bodrum on Monday, with the night clerk at my hotel calling me at 5:30 am to wake me up. I had a shuttle bus to the airport to catch in forty-five minutes and had barely slept a wink the night before. I blame this condition on a lack of alcohol, as I'd refrained the night before from indulging in the rakı and watermelon fest that had typified the rest of the evenings on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. Figuring I had to get up early, I'd toned things down a bit, but then wasn't really all that tired by the time my head hit the pillow. Serves me right for trying to organize things too much.

It was pretty cool walking through the streets of Bodrum in the early morning. Normally, everywhere is packed with sweaty grim-faced tourists running the gauntlet of Turkish touts shouting out their wares in English. At such an early hour in the morning there were no tourists to be found, though it's not as if the streets were deserted. A number of the shopkeepers were setting up for the day, one that wouldn't end for them until after eleven o'clock at night. 
I got to the airport without issue--other than the fact that our bus pulled over on the side of the highway for ten minutes while we waited for a late traveler to board. I was flying Onur Air, my old fave from the grand old days of the 1990s. The steward's badge indicated that his name was, in fact, Onur, which was vaguely amusing.

Traveling in style with Onur & Friendz

Anatolian Express XV: Bodrum, Gümüşlük & Yalıçiftlik

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I rolled into Bodrum on Friday after a three-hour trip from Marmaris. It was easy traveling on a little (one-buttock seats) but uncrowded bus. The weather was sunny and warm, and we drove through a nice new highway that took us through the mountains. As was the case with most of the trips I've taken during this past month, the ride was considerably shorter than my guidebook, published just seven years ago, indicates. It's testament to the degree to which Turkey's infrastructure has been developing in recent years.

From the bus as we pulled into Bodrum

Anatolian Express XIV: Marmaris and İçmeler

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On Wednesday morning I got up early-ish and had my final breakfast in Fethiye before hitting the road for Marmaris. Fethiye had been fun. I'd like the place where I was staying, especially as they had a nice veranda that had a view of the harbor and the hills beyond. I'd gotten into the habit of drinking rakı and eating watermelon there at night. Of course, people in Turkey would usually include white (feta) cheese as well, but I guess two out of three wasn't so bad in this instance.

The trip to Marmaris ended up taking about three hours on a little bus. We traveled through bright green valleys and attractive mountains not unlike those I'd seen between Antalya and Fethiye. The bus pulled into Marmaris in mid-afternoon, and within an hour or so I was installed at my hotel and ready to check out the town.