A Struggling Civil Society, Moscow

By Jaisang Sun, B.A. program alumnus.

Insight from Moscow, Russia.

My last day in Moscow was supposed to be a fun tour around the beautiful city by myself, since the entire […]

March 27th, 2014|Categories: Europe||

Corruption and AKP, Istanbul

By Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

This post was also posted on Dr. İbikoğlu’s blog.

AKP’s acronym stands for Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, i.e. Justice and Development Party. For […]

March 6th, 2014|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa||

The World’s Fussiest Flag, London

By Jeffrey P. Lupo, B.A. program alumnus.

Insight from London, England

The Union Jack seems unique among national flags to truly capture an essential feature of the people it represents. It […]

February 26th, 2014|Categories: Europe|Tags: , |

“Let’s use disproportionate intelligence!” Humor in the Turkish Protests, Istanbul

By Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

This post was also posted on Dr. İbikoğlu’s blog where he has been contextualizing the Turkish protests.

I have shared some protest graffiti […]

June 13th, 2013|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

People like you and me (#OccupyGezi #Taksim #DirenGeziParki), Istanbul

Emails from Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

The following emails from Dr. İbikoğlu were reproduced here with his permission. Please note that they were sent to a friend […]

June 3rd, 2013|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

Oxford: Home of lost causes or progressive ideas?

By Rebekah Kennel, B.A. program student.

Insight from Oxford, England.

I’ve been in the UK nearly three months now. I’ve settled in the city of Oxford where the dreaming spires exude the city’s haunting beauty, ancient intellectualism, and sacred atmosphere. It’s easy to think in these nostalgic narratives, Oxford is so beautiful. Though, reviews in the past have been mixed. Here are a couple opinions I find rather concerning:
“Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!” – Matthew Arnold
“The real Oxford is a close corporation of jolly, untidy, lazy, good-for-nothing humorous old men, who have been electing their own successors ever since the world began and who intend to go on with it.” – C.S. Lewis

November 6th, 2012|Categories: Europe|Tags: , , , |

From Inside the Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest

By Rachel Brown, B.A. student.

Insight from Bucharest, Romania.

It’s hot. It’s so hot I can’t breathe and I wish this taxi had air-conditioning. I never wish for air-conditioning but all four windows are wide open and I still feel like I am suffocating. It is so bright outside that the industrial buildings stretching from the airport to Bucharest city are white-washed, bleached as if my eyes are a camera, set on over-expose. The driver is smoking and talking on his phone and looking over his shoulder at me at the same time. He has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Walking through the airport I was struck over and over again by blue, blue eyes and dark, dark skin. Later at my hotel I will Google “blue eyes Romania.” I end up in a rabbit hole of stories about blue-eyed Arabs, and dating sites for men to meet hot young Romanian women, conspiracy theorists talking about blue-eyes sometimes being a dominant gene instead of a recessive one, and a Wikipedia article about how Estonia’s population is 99% blue eyed.  I scour the television stations to catch sight of these blue eyes again. But the airport is the only place I see them.

I am in Bucharest, Romania for two weeks to work for the secretariat of an international environmental treaty on wetlands, biodiversity and climate change–the Ramsar Convention. It is their triennial COP, or Conference of the Parties, where delegates from about 153 different countries come together to negotiate environmental policy, which they will then take home with them and implement.


September 23rd, 2012|Categories: Europe|Tags: , , , , |

Water connects everything, Álora

By Sarah Boone, B.A. student.

Insight from Álora, Spain.

Looking at a map of the Guadalhorce watershed, I traced the blue line of the river through the towns dotted along the valley. The water in this valley provides life and livelihood to this region of Southern Spain, serving as a source of irrigation for agriculture and drinking water for many small communities and the large, coastal city of Málaga. The river has served these purposes since the time of the Romans, when the region of Andalucía was developed as a breadbasket for the growing empire. The Moorish civilization continued to develop the water infrastructure by building elaborate canals, some of which are still in use today. These systems have lasted for centuries, but today as aridity increases in Southern Spain, the traditional allocations of water and the rural culture it supports are under pressure to change.


August 26th, 2012|Categories: Europe|Tags: , , , |

A Celebration of German Resistance, Berlin

By Elizabeth Cook, B.A. student.

Insight from Berlin, Germany.

Living in Berlin, a city caught up in a selective forgetting and remembering of the physical past, it is not hard to stumble across something with a hidden or little-known history. On July 20th, a few classmates and I went exploring in the city, and came upon the Memorial to the German Resistance, also known as the Bendlerblock. The Bendlerblock is better known through the context of Operation Valkyrie; the area was used as the headquarters for the Wehrmacht officers who carried out the July 20 plot against Adolf Hitler. General Olbricht, Colonel von Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften, and Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim were executed by firing squad in the courtyard of the building for conspiracy. Currently, the courtyard is home to the Memorial to the German Resistance. […]

January 5th, 2012|Categories: Europe|Tags: , , |