|Sunday, December 13, 2009|
One of the biggest stories to have emerged from Turkey this year was the so-called "Kurdish initiative" (Kürt açılımı, or Kurdish 'opening').
The "Kurdish opening" was announced in the Spring of this year, but has actually been around for a while. On January 1 of 2009, the Turkish government set up TRT 6, a television channel which broadcasts in Kurdish. Then, during the municipal election campaign earlier this year (nationwide municipal elections in Turkey are treated as referenda on the performance of the sitting national government in a manner similar to midterm elections in the United States), Prime Minister Erdoğan went even further in his efforts to woo Kurdish voters to his party. Prior to the March 29 elections, Erdogan not only promised that he would allow Kurdish-language radio, but also spoke Kurdish himself publicly at a campaign rally--something which is actually illegal in Turkey.
|Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009|
I spent last weekend in Princeton and NYC, and had a really good time. The point of the trip was that I was giving a brown-bag talk at my old department, Near Eastern Studies. But it was also great to catch up with some old friends.
Everything started with a 5 a.m. wake-up and a snowy and dark drive to the airport, courtesy of my faculty mentor at MSU (I signed up for this mentorship program, which pairs new professors with more senior people in other departments, without knowing how much it would save me in taxi fare. Having a cool mentor is a really good thing). I flew into Newark, then took the train down to Princeton.
Princeton was slushy and rainy and nasty when I arrived. I met up with my friend Farrell, whom I knew back when I was an MA student at Princeton, and who is spending the current semester at the Institute for Advanced Study. We had dinner and drinks, and even though we had a good time it was difficult to escape the conclusion we'd made so many times nearly a decade ago: no matter what the weather, Princeton is a pretty crummy place to spend an evening.
Princeton's Firestone Library under brighter skies Sunday morning