Other People's Genocides

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

One of the big stories this week, at least in terms of US foreign policy, was Joe Biden's characterization of the Ottoman massacres of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide in comments he made last Saturday. The genocide is considered to have begun on April 24, 1915. 

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide,” Biden said in a statement Saturday.

This is considered a big deal because the Turkish government rejects this characterization, preferring instead to emphasize the degree to which the events of 1915 resemble a "civil war" rather than a genocide. Unsurprisingly, Ankara has sharply criticized Biden's comments, saying they have opened a "deep wound" in US-Turkish relations. 

The problem with discussions about genocide is that everybody seems to be operating from their own, seat-of-the-pants definition of the concept.

From Bozeman to Belgrade: Moving the Borderlands Lodge N & P

Saturday, April 10, 2021

A lot has been going on over the past couple of months. For me personally, the biggest project has been moving. Yes, after twelve years in its present location, the Borderlands Lodge is headed to Belgrade: Belgrade, MT, that is--the little Montana town with a Balkan flavor. 

I've lived in a lot of apartments over the years. There were four in Montreal when I was in college, and then another four in Istanbul when I lived there in the 90s. I won't even try to count how many places I rented when I was a graduate student/post-doc researching in Istanbul, Baku, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ufa, Moscow, Simferopol, Batumi, and Tbilisi, not to mention Princeton, Providence, and NYC. 

When I got my job at Montana State in 2009, I was living again in Istanbul, having flown out to Turkey--for the second time in my life--on a one-way ticket and no concrete plan for return. I'd finished my PhD and was feeling somewhat invisible after two long years looking for tenure-track work in the USA as a professor. I was riding out a post-doctoral research grant I'd received and, other than applying for various jobs, no real idea of what was going to happen next. 

Moving from Istanbul to Bozeman in the summer of 2009 was an adventure. I didn't have a lot of stuff, so I shipped out what little I had stored at my parents' place in Ann Arbor, then used the remainder of the moving expenses MSU had given me to rent a car and drive out to Montana from Michigan. It was a great trip, and gave me a feel for the enormity of the distance and the land extending between my childhood home and my new adult one.