The school year is wrapping up at AUCA and I plan to return to the States in early June for about a month a half before coming back to Bishkek to teach for a second year. I am sometimes ambivalent about my decision, though my reasons in favor of returning are dominant at the moment. I haven’t seen as much of the country as I had hoped (a shortcoming I intend to remedy in the second year), I enjoy the students, and I will be promoted from “acting’ to simply “professor.” I want you to know that I took my acting responsibilities very seriously this past year. Furthermore, I don’t have a job to go back to in the States, so that helps to clarify matters too.
I will teach a new course next semester, American Jazz History and Culture, that I am very excited about. I will be developing the syllabus and course materials over the summer and will be contacting some of you for ideas. I’m also looking forward to hearing some live jazz at the Outpost in Albuquerque.
Lately I have been ruminating on national identity and nationalism—how it got hijacked by the Bush administration and their patsies in the mass media, how its assumptions are not being seriously questioned by most administration critics (which is why they cannot be seen as an opposition), and the inchoate but rising Kyrgyz nationalism that surfaced in two weeklong episodes of protest demonstrations in Bishkek in April and last November. They all seem to be related. I tried to tackle their relationship in a paper I wrote for the American Studies in Central Asia Symposium last month, but it didn’t come together as well as I had hoped, so I plan on spending some time writing my way through this in the next couple of months. I will post my progress on this site; your comments are welcome.