Diary: Lectures in Ireland and Istanbul

John O’Loughlin and I gave a lecture “Inside Eurasia’s De Facto States” at Dublin City University to students and faculty on the 28th of September 2012. Many thanks to Donnacha O’Beachain for organizing this well attended event. It was the first time I had ever visited this campus. Twas great to see so many Irish students interested in politics in the Caucasus and Moldova/PMR, and that such an interest can be pursued within Irish universities. It is quite a change from my time (not to mention that of JohnO who was introduced with amazement that he was part of the ‘class of 1969’ at UCD).

While in Ireland, I learned the terrible news that Neil Smith had died. His passing at a relatively young age is a major loss to the discipline of Geography. His biography of Isaiah Bowman is an outstanding piece of scholarship, one that justly deserved the awards it garnered. Like many geographers I have happy memories of Neil in social settings but also as an academic in intellectual exchange, beginning when he was at Columbia and then at Rutgers University. I was close with some graduate students of his while at Syracuse University in the eighties. He was a warm hearted man who gave generously of his time to younger scholars and inspired us all to critical thinking. I grieve for him, and I know many others, closer to him than I in recent years, are in pain too over his passing.

Thereafter I flew to Istanbul to participate in an International Congress to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balkan Wars: “Good Neighbourhood Relations in the Balkans.” Organized by the International Relations department at Hacettepe University in Ankara, this conference brought together 130 participants from 22 countries, most from the Balkans, to discuss the legacies of these wars. Valery Perry and I presented papers on Bosnia, mine on the 1990 elections and Valery’s on the dilemmas of constitutional change there. A big thanks to Muge Kinacioglu, her department and students for organizing such an ambitious conference, appropriately in YeniBosna in Istanbul.

On 6 October I also spoke on Critical Geopolitics and IR at the invitation of the Center for Global Studies of the Foundation for Sciences and Arts (Bilim ve Sanat Vakfi Kuresel Arstirmalar Merkezi). Many thanks Dr Mustafa Ozel for making this happen, and especially to Ozcan Sahin and Dr Murat Yesiltas for great hospitality during my visit (pictured). I was humbled by the generosity of my hosts in both instances, inspired by the intellectual vitality of Turkey’s young academics (Behlul Ozkan generously gave me a copy of his new Yale University Press book), and awed by the relentless expansion of Istanbul itself.

About Dr Gerard Toal

Irish born academic living in Washington DC researching geopolitical competition and territorial conflicts in post-Communist Europe. Author of CRITICAL GEOPOLITICS (1996), BOSNIA REMADE (w C Dahlman) and NEAR ABROAD: PUTIN, THE WEST AND THE CONTEST OVER UKRAINE AND THE CAUCASUS (Oxford University Press, 2017).
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