A new article: "The Economics of Muslim Cultural Reform"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Well folks, I've got a new article out. It's a chapter in an edited volume put together by the folks at the Slavic Research Center in Hokkaido. The volume is entitled Asiatic Russia: Imperial Power in Regional and International Contexts and my piece is called "The Economics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Money, Power, and Muslim Communities in Late Imperial Russia."  

The article is about the issue of Muslim educational reform in late imperial Russia, a topic that is generally treated within the realm of ideas. Rather than look at 'debates' or 'arguments' about reforms, I zero in on a subject close to the heart of all teachers: cold hard cash. 

Borderland ski report

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Well folks, up here at the Borderlands Lodge we've had, of course, very little snow this winter. That sucks, from a skiing standpoint, even if that has made it easier for me to continue tooling around town by bike. 
Finally, though, we had a good dumping of snow on Monday and Tuesday. I was itching to hit the slopes. Unfortunately, time would be tight. I had a meeting in the morning and would be participating on a panel in the evening.
Nevertheless, I managed a quick drive up to Bridger. I skied Alpine, the easiest slope, which is still sunny in the early afternoon (parts of Bridger get dark a bit early).

True confession: I'd always considered skiing a bit decadent. A bit like golf. Yes, you're in the great outdoors but you're getting in a car and driving in order to go down a hill they've developed. Expensive gear is important. I get it.

But I'd skied as a kid, and have fond memories of ending a day at Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan, following my Dad down an empty tree-lined trail back to the hotel. I think this is one reason why I like skiing the Alpine lift at Bridger.

Losing the liberal autocrat

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I read an interesting set of editorials in the NYT today about Russia, Putin, and the latest elections. Interesting stuff, but maybe I'm just saying that because I'm still a Russia geek, even after all these years.

One point that I was looking to see brought up was what might transpire if Putin were to be driven out of power at some point. My sense is that most people in the US think that this would be a good thing. 

Without question, Putin is an autocrat. But while his background is that of the KGB, it's also that of St. Petersburg and late-era Soviet liberalism. While Putin is hardly cuddly and nice, he was by no means the most odious political figure to emerge in Russia in the 1990s.

Is Putin a liberal? Not really, under most people's definition of the term. But he's an institutional man, a complete non-populist. He's like David Stern today or Mintemir Shaimiev circa 2000, someone who's been around so long that he's mostly interested in preserving the status quo at this point. Staying in power. Increasingly predictable.

In other words: Putin might not care much about little Central Asian girls getting beaten up in St. Petersburg, but he's no fascist. No radical.

But that old guard is slipping away. First Rakhimov. Then Shaimiev. And then? 

Where have you gone, Mintemir?