Monday, June 25, 2018


Central Asia

I had been planning to visit Central Asia with much enthusiasm for quite a while and I managed a first incursion into Kyrgyzstan for an academic conference in Bishkek during the early part of the summer of 2017. That visit only whetted my appetite to see more (especially since I hadn't been able to visit the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan).

Hence, upon my return, I began planning for my trip to Western China as an ambitious follow-up. My trip took me to Ürümqi, Kashgar, Turpan, Dunhuang and partially down the Chinese side of the famed Karakoram Highway. It was everything I had hoped it would be.

My interest was twofold. First of all, I had been following closely the details surrounding the unfolding of the One Belt-One Road Initiative as part of my academic research agenda. I particularly wanted to see the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway, but I eventually became intrigued with the history of the region. I bought Peter Frankopan's "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World", and devoured as much of the book as I could during the 14 hour flight from the United States' East Coast to Beijing. I couldn't put the book down, even after landing in China:
"Urban centers spurred each other on, with rivalry between rulers and elites prompting ever more ambitious architecture and spectacular monuments. Libraries, places of worship, churches and observatories of immense scale and cultural influence dotted the region, connecting Constantinople to Damascus, Isfahan, Samarkand, Kabul and Kashgar. Cities such as these became homes to brilliant scholars who advanced the frontiers of their subjects. The names of only a small handful are familiar today--men like Ibn Sīnā, ... Al-Bīrūnī, and al-Khwarizmi--giants in the fields of astronomy and medicine; but there were many more besides. For centuries before the modern era, the intellectual centres of excellence of the world, the Oxfords and Cambridges, the Harvards and Yales, were not located in Europe or the west, but in Baghdad and Balkh, Bukhara and Samarkand." --- Peter Frankopan, "The Silk Roads: A New History of the World", Vintage Books, March 2017.



Karakoram Highway


I must say, I'll be back in the near future.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 03, 2018


Media On Trial in Leeds ...and other Sunday musings.

Held recently was an event that should be much more commonplace throughout the western world than is currently, especially after the Iraq debacle. I couldn't help thinking that as it runs out of opportunities for investment, capitalism is accentuating its destructive imperialist phase where it seeks to destroy countries through war just so it can invest (among other things) in the "reconstruction" (yes, I'm admittedly a neophyte in my analysis, lacking in any ideological rigor). Anyway, participating in the "event", known as Media On Trial, were Sheila Coombes, Professor Piers Robinson, independent researcher Robert Stuart, journalist Patrick Henningsen, former UK ambassador to Bahrain and Syria Peter Ford, and investigative journalist and photographer Vanessa Beeley. The talks are also available as a 21st Century Sunday Wire podcast. Well worth taking a couple of hours (grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea) and listening.

Also interesting is a lecture by Dr. Prabhat Patnaik, entitled The State under neo-liberalism. To the question he poses of - "How do you preserve the social legitimacy of the state in the face of its submission to the powers of finance capital?", he respondes - "by locating a common enemy or a fifth column", this in the interests of diverting the public's attention. The war on terror is just one of those diversions. Interesting thoughts by an Indian Marxist economist and political commentator who taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, from 1974 until his retirement in 2010. He was also the vice-chairman of the Planning Board of the Indian state of Kerala from June 2006 to May 2011.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?