Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Taste of Home

On Saturday I purchased a big bottle of Louisiana hot sauce from Beta Stores on Chui. It has made my meals at the AUCA cafeteria much more enjoyable. The combination of hot sauce and plov reminds me of meals back in Arivaca with my uncle Jim.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pictures related to my recent guest lecturer

If you follow this link it will take you to some pictures of Kristina Gray, her husband Ken and even me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Guest Lecturers

Yesterday I had a guest lecturer speak in front of my Russian Politics course. Unfortunately, only six students showed up to class. But, other than that it went very well. Kristina Gray spoke mostly about the recent history of Ukraine. In particular she focused on the 1932-1933 famine and World War II. She showed a lot of photographs and had a lot of personal stories gathered by her students in Kiev. I am sure that the students that did show up found her approach a welcome change of pace from my usual teaching style. My only visual aid is a blue marker and a white board on which I write and draw things.

I am hoping to have another guest lecturer speak in front of my Political Culture class on 5 November 2007. Greta Uehling has tentatively agreed to speak about the Crimean Tatar return to Crimea on this date. We are covering a chapter from her book on the subject in the course. Since she is going to be in Bishkek anyways I thought it would be a good opportunity for my students to discuss the reading with the author herself.

If anybody else is going to be in Bishkek and would like to speak in front of one of my classes let me know. I can not pay you anything. But, if your talk is good enough I will buy you dinner at the Chinese restaurant a few blocks away.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Borders and Migration Course

Last week I did not have to teach any classes due to Fall Break. Instead I put together my course on borders and migration for next semester. The class will cover labor migration, forced migration and ethnic "return" migration. In particular with regards to labor migration it will deal with illegal Mexican immigration into the US and the integration of immigrants into the European Union. The section on forced migration has readings on Stalin's deportation of the Kalmyks to Siberia, Czechoslovakia's expulsion of its ethnically German citizens after World War II, and the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during 1948. Finally, the last four reading assignments are on ethnically motivated migrations to "ancestral homelands." The four cases covered are ethnic Russian immigrants to the Russian Federation, the return of Crimean Tatars to Crimea, the immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel, and the settlement of ethnic Germans from the former USSR, Poland and Romania in Germany. I will put up the syllabus for the course in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, October 08, 2007

German Jazz in Bishkek

On Saturday I went and saw the German jazz quartet Sublim, fronted by saxophone player Angelika Niescier, play at the Philharmonic Hall here in Bishkek. The concert was sponsored by the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Goethe Institute. I do not know much about jazz, but I liked the concert a lot.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Current Reading Habits

Currently my reading is almost entirely orientated towards facilitating my teaching. First and foremost this means a lot of rereading of the material I have assigned my students to read. Next it means reading literature related to the classes I will be teaching next semester. I will be teaching Political History of the USSR, Comparative Politics, and Borders and Migration. I have a syllabus for the first of these classes already. The second one I am co-teaching with another faculty member and will be using a standard textbook. It is the third class which I have to put together. It is the first class they are allowing me to design from scratch.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Yesterday my department had an outing at Ala-Archa, a mountainous state park outside of Bishkek. The climb up the mountain nearly killed me. I am still sore everywhere today.