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. 

Free lectures available up here in the Bozone

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. 

Calling all Turks across empires!  

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.

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.

Rakı, white cheese and watermelon: a nice way to cool off in the summertime evenings

Anatolian Express XIII: Fethiye and Karmylassos

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sunday was a long day. It started off in Gaziantep at four o'clock in the morning with my alarm clock ringing. As fun as my trip through the southeast had been, it was time to get moving. I had a plane to catch in a couple of hours.

When planning this trip, the idea had been mainly to see places I'd never been to before. I therefore ended up seeing some places--like Sivas--that some might consider just a wee bit prosaic, while other destinations during this voyage--such as Urfa and Mardin--are fascinating but off the beaten track, at least as far as Turkey is concerned. After the past few weeks of travel, however, I figured I could use a little time resting and relaxing in the sun. That is what has brought me here to Fethiye.

I think Fethiye is actually a bit farther east than this map indicates, but you get the general idea

Anatolian Express XII: Feeling nutty in Antep

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I'm not much of a 'foodie.' Something about that term has always rubbed me the wrong way. I guess I've just met too many Americans whose only interest in foreign cultures related to eating.

In a place like Antep, however, eating is the thing to do. The place is widely considered to have some of the best food in Turkey.

Antep is also known as 'Gaziantep' thanks to the role the city's inhabitants
played in holding off the French during the War of Independence

The Geziversary: Taksim Square and Turkey one year later

Saturday, May 31, 2014

As many of you know, today marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Gezi Park conflicts. The actual sit-in began earlier in May of last year, but May 31 was the day that the police cleared the park for the first time, setting the stage for the counter-attack by the protesters and three weeks of a cop-free zone in the city-center districts of Taksim and Beyoğlu.

Long-time readers of the Borderlands will remember that I was in Istanbul at this time last year, and wrote quite a bit about the protests and police riots that took place in the ensuing weeks. Even as the protests were taking place last year, I had mixed feelings about what happened. A year later, my attitude towards the events is still pretty ambiguous.

On the one hand, this blog has often been critical of the policies of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Indeed, one of the reasons I started posting here in earnest was due to my frustration with what seemed to be the fundamentally incompetent treatment of Erdoğan's administration by most of the US and European-based journalists, bloggers and experts writing on Turkey at the time.