From Ufa IV

July 31, 2008
Well, today was my birthday--and a great day it was. For the last ten days or so, I've been working a lot not only in the archives, but also on an article that's been a part of my life for too long. Today, like most days, I spent the morning working on the article before heading off to the archive. I came home again at around four in the afternoon, sat down and started working again on the article. I didn't get up again until after eleven.

And now, the article is pretty much finished! I'm going to send it off to some friends of mine, see what they think about it, then look at it again myself in a week or so. Hopefully I'll be able to submit it before too long.

Book Review: Robert D. Crews' For Prophet and Tsar

July 28, 2008
Robert D. Crews’ For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Harvard University Press, 2006) is one of the more interesting and thought-provoking works to emerge from the growing list of studies that have been produced over the past two decades with regard to the Muslim communities of late imperial Russia. Following on the heels of the work of Danil’ D. Azamatov (in particular, his masterly Orenburgskoe Magometanskoe dukhovnoe sobranie v kontse XVIII-XIX vv.), Crews’ study is an examination of the role of “official” Islam in the Russian Empire, and of the Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly in particular.

From Ufa III

July 25, 2008
Well, I've finished my first week of work in Ufa and it has been really great. The folks in the archive have been friendly, and I've been able to get through a good amount of material here without being overwhelmed. All in all, there wasn't all that much that I needed to look through here, since I'd worked here for a few weeks back in 2005. However, there had been a number of questions which had come up since then and which I wanted to investigate here, and I think the two weeks that I'll end up working in the archive this month will be enough time to find whatever the archive has to help me answer them.

From Ufa II

July 23, 2008
Just a quick update now while I'm on online. Things are going well. I've been working in the archive the past few days--they're treating me nicely. As was the case when I worked here in 2005, they allow unlimited (and free) use of digital cameras, which makes the work go faster. I've been looking at some of the opisi of the Orenburg Spiritual Assembly that I didn't get a chance to look at last time, as well as some other materials relating to the provincial governor's office and other branches of regional administration.

From Ufa!

July 20, 2008
Greetings from Ufa, capital of Bashkortostan!

As I have no telephone line at home, I won't be able to regularly update this website. So, I'm just going to make the posts as always and will update when I can. Thus, there will probably be times when no posts appear for days or even weeks, followed by the sudden appearance of several postings all at once. I don't think there's any other way, at least until I'm back in Turkey. We'll see.

Hostel Territory

July 19, 2008

Ever since my old standby hotel in Moscow, the Rossiia, was demolished (here's a clip of the implosion--it's too short but gives you an idea of the immense size of this place) I've been without a regular place to stay in this town. The Rossiia was a dump but it was an enormous dump, so I could always get a room there. It wasn't a bad deal--for about $40 it was possible to stay right across the street from Red Square.
I miss the Rossiya
Hotels in Moscow are really expensive, so for a while I tried staying at the Izmailovo Gamma-Delta Hotel, but I just got sick of it. Not only is the Gamma-Delta as much of a dump as the Rossiia was, but it's also rather pricey in its own right and is just too far away to be much fun.

From Moscow

July 18, 2008 
Well, I've made it to Moscow! It's a little hard to imagine that just a few days ago I was still in Ann Arbor. It's been a tiring trip, but really exciting. On Thursday afternoon I flew from Istanbul to Moscow--the first time I'd flown into Moscow since 1998. A lot has changed. Indeed, the last several times I've flown to Russia I've arrived in St. Petersburg and (more frequently) Kazan, and my waiting time in customs and passport control has always ranged between one and three hours. This time, in contrast to my last arrival at Sheremetyevo airport in 1998 (when I waited three hours and didn't get out of the airport until five am), I breezed through passport control in just a couple of minutes. Then, I boarded Sheremetyevo's brand new airport train, which goes from the airport to the Savyolovskaia train & metro station in about twenty minutes. Here is a shot of the inside of the train, and here is a photo of some of the scenery that I passed through en route into town.