IT’S TIME. THE HIATUS IS OVER. I’ve procrastinated long enough with getting back to this blog, and as the gap of time since my last post grew into a gulf, the pressure of wanting to write something ~big~ took over. But no more! Surprise, surprise, I’ve had a lot of time in the past three months with internet jok. Here’s a compilation of some of the things that made me look twice and think a while, mostly about Kyrgyzstan, international development, foreign policy, feminism, and language. Enjoy.
Listening to Russia’s Female Migrants – “The first issue of Gul was published in St Petersburg in mid-December 2016. The newspaper, whose name translates as “flower”, isn’t just for women from central Asia — it’s produced by them, too. All of the publication’s founders are current or former labour migrants from the region, who are well versed in the problems faced by central Asian women arriving in Russia to work. In their words, these women face double the discrimination, due to both gender and legal status. Their need for help is twice as great.” If you read Russian/Kyrgyz/Kazakh/Tajik/etc you can read Gul magazine on VK.
Edge of Europe – A journalist traveled along the supposed “border” of Europe and Asia (hint, there’s no real border, geographic or political) writing about the cultures and attitudes that line both sides. The article about Georgia and the one about Russia were my particular favorites.
Goodbye, Eastern Europe! – “The truth is that Eastern Europe belongs less to the geography recorded in road atlases than to psychogeography. It isn’t really a place, but a state of mind. Many times, I’ve fallen into pockets of Eastern Europe far west of the Oder–Trieste line. It’s happened to me below highway overpasses, in line at the DMV, and in the waiting rooms of neglected bus stations.”
Wall to wall: meet Slavs and Tatars, the art collective slaying stereotypes from Berlin to Beijing – “Why, you might ask, is their work relevant? What can work about teahouses, linguistics, watermelons, failed transliteration efforts, monobrows, dubbing, phonemes and kebabs made by a collective that presents its work across Europe, the US, the Middle East and eastern Europe tell us about Eurasia’s regions? Well, everything.”
Learning to Make Lasagna in Kyrgyzstan – “I didn’t understand how life strung together in Kyrgyzstan—the instinctive local calculus seemed to repudiate planning and bow enthusiastically to chance. I was 22, anxious and selfish, and increasingly anxious the more selfish I got. It was so cold I rarely left the room I rented from a local family. I realized that much of what I’d previously thought of as my cheerful and winning personality depended on having frivolous things to do. I was pining very hard after a boyfriend in Texas. As some attempt at pleasure substitution, I decided to teach myself how to cook.”
Svetlana Alexievich: The Truth in Many Voices – “Alexievich’s sad chronicles—about women soldiers in World War II, veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, victims of the Chernobyl disaster, among other subjects—are thus the opposite of escapism. She does not allow herself to jump ahead with the toolkit of fiction and then look back for meaning, redemption, or distraction. She instead rescues the recent past from the patterns of collective forgetting by the hard work of speaking to thousands of people, and then arranging their voices in a way that rescues experience without imposing narrative.”
Letter of Recommendation: Presidential Biographies – “Presidential biographies don’t tell you that everything is going to be O.K., but rather that nothing was ever really O.K. to begin with. And yet, for hundreds of years, Americans have not only survived heartbreaking, backbreaking periods but also stood tall in them. My advice, for these divisive times, is to find the perspective that history gives us.”