Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘politics

One year of 28east

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May 17th, 2012

One year ago today, on May 17th, 2011, I fashioned my first post, which focused on the Syrian crisis in the context of the Arab Spring—still a rapidly evolving news event at the time. After publishing it, I composed an appropriately vague “about” page, with the intention of allowing the blog to take its own shape in light of personal interests and world events as they developed. Such were my thoughts at the time:

With any luck, I’ll be able to look back on my first few blog posts and think, “What an idiot I was.”

Struggling to understand the complexities of politics, war, religion, economics, and culture in the Middle East of history and today—with a focus on the modern Republic of Turkey.

Now, with the benefit of a year in hindsight, I cannot say that my thoughts or my purpose have substantively changed. In fact, the vagueness of the initial project has—as my scant readership has no doubt noticed—been borne out most faithfully by the scatterbrained, irregular nature of the blog.

But despite breaking a good many of what are considered “cardinal rules” of blogging—e.g., I do not always “write what I know,” I certainly haven’t found a “niche,” and I don’t always post regularly—I refuse to be apologetic. The blog primarily developed as a means and an encouragement to “read with a pen,” and to that end, it has been instructive and worthwhile.

That is not to say, however, that I do not wish to improve my readability, the quality of my analysis, or my posting habits (though finding a “niche” can wait), and with that in mind, I have some excuses for the past and implications for the future.

The 28th meridian east.

The first thing that I should address is that I have neglected to answer the most basic question of new readers: Why “28east?” My answer is that while this blog seeks to investigate what defines “East” and “West,” I know full well that this investigation has no conclusion. So instead of taking up a semantic debate or defining the cardinal directions, I have focused the discussion primarily around my topic of interest, the Republic of Turkey, which is notable for bridging Europe and Asia—west and east—in more than a purely geographical sense. The symbolic location of this “bridge” is European Istanbul and the Bosphorus, dividing the continents and located at approximately the 28th meridian east, 28° east of Greenwich.

But despite what may otherwise seem a claim to geographic specificity (perhaps this is why I never explained the name), this blog is interested in a broader understanding of Turkey’s place in the world. Which leads to the second thing that I should address: Analysis that is lacking in broad scope. I acknowledge that, for the most part, I have analyzed minutiae more readily (and capably) than broad themes. Similarly, I am not always able to relate smaller ideas together, and often leave loose ends. I blame this on two factors that I am (slowly) attempting to address: (1) limited historical knowledge and (2) limited cultural and linguistic adeptness. Though the first will merely(?) take books, time, and effort, the second will require much more on-the-ground experience in Turkey.

Turkish coffee. Not as good as it sounds.

Fortunately, the latter is something that I hope to be able to address in the upcoming year. Compared with prior experiences, I should have ample opportunity to engage in Turkish language and culture in the near future, and I intend to actually start using the blog’s “Culture” category. It is my opinion, neither optimistic nor pessimistic, that this will represent a slight shift in the blog. As I have suggested, I think this will be a necessary step toward culturally aware; and thereby broader, better analysis. My readers are welcome to disagree. If nothing else, some readers may appreciate a few more colorful elements to oppose my not-so-popular economic analysis.

But in keeping with the original project, I would like to emphasize that I am making no promises. The next year of the blog will, for all practical purposes, serve the same function as the last—and neither sanity nor clarity, nor regularity, are guaranteed. This is merely an outlet, and a motivation, for thought. The reader is welcome to engage in, and improve on, this thought.

If thought is too ambitious a goal—which it very well may be—then I hope that my readers have gained, and will continue to gain, some knowledge, perspective, or at the very least, amusement. Cheers.

M. James

Written by M. James

May 17, 2012 at 5:45 am

Posted in Turkey

Tagged with , ,

L.A.: Little Armenia

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Little Armenia

“‘Shame on Turkey! 1915 never again!’ Said the mass amassed about me. All I needed was some dish soap, but instead I got engulfed in a genocide protest march.”

It’s the 96th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, which has apparently not been forgotten.

A source living in Los Angeles’s Little Armenia kindly forwarded the adjacent picture after escaping a march through the neighborhood. This is just another example of Armenian tenacity on the issue of the genocide, nearly a century on.

Not too long ago, we saw a similar example in France’s parliament. It seems that any place with a sizeable Armenian immigrant population, including parts of the United States, can be confronted with these tentacles of Turkish politics.

I think it is safe to say that the reason for Armenians’ tenacity is Turkey’s obstinacy. Turkey has, traditionally, been unwilling to accept the genocide as a historical fact. Until they do, the French—and the Angelinos—will have to get used to dodging protest marches.

Written by M. James

April 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm