Posts tagged history

Sadness about what media reports can do to people

We went to a wedding of a son of some friends of ours who we know from Ukraine days. We first met them in 1997 and have continued the friendship by letters, visits and e-mail.  They LOVED Ukraine so much that they studied the language and adopted a little girl even though they had three of their own boys (the second son got married today) and one daughter of their own.

The reception was held in an area that was separate and actually on the other end of town that I was familiar with.  I had gone to visit Dr. K. many times at his beautiful home but found on my searching that he had died a year ago.  He was very knowledgeable about Ukraine’s history and very winsome as well. I also found out that my former Ukrainian landlord and landlady are going through their own trials.  She has dementia and he at age 95 is being accused of being a leader of an SS group who massacred people back in Ukraine during WWII.  How preposterous is that?  He is a gentle soul and now the media, through these unfounded reports, are going after him to demoralize a very gentle soul.

I believe already that we live in a very wicked world, it is in a fallen state.  No matter how many laws are passed or how much is done to rectify the problems of this world, it always gets back to how greedy and malicious people are.  What is the point of victimizing this old man without any solid proof that he actually did what they accuse him of.  Why have the authorities going after him now?  To demoralize his more outspoken son?

I’m sad over this whole affair, what kind of lies are being repeated in Kazakhstan?  The enemy perpetuates these half truths or lies to further his agenda.  However, I know God and HIS truth are more powerful than all these lies put together.

Need some very good news about now.  At the wedding I heard about gas lighting which is an affliction of using manipulation to victimize people.  That is a small dose of that compared to what has happened to my former landlord.

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So, I want to publish a book on Kazakhstan

I attended a national history conference in St. Paul, Minnesota two weeks ago. These notes are from the seventh out of ten sessions that I attended in three days. I went to this session because I want to publish much of my notes and anecdotes that I picked up from my Kazakh students the three years I taught there. I have the title of my book already, I just have to have time to organize and pare the material down. The following are my notes, obviously I could see it would not work for my international audience. I also know I would need to do an e-book because I have such a niche market.

“So you want to Publish a History Book?”
First identify your reading audience, once you have that answer, that will determine your media. Potential audience ranges widely. Micro-histories, duplicated, print on demand, broad readership, old proverb “Graduate students start out knowing a lot but end up knowing less and less. By the time they get their degree, they know nothing.”
Non specialist audience
Cross-over – converge on specialist, context, provide background
Get balance right, succeed
AALSH committee Writing Local History today
Thomas Phelp wrote before 1976 “Researching, writing, and publishing local history” reprinted 4 times
Thomas Phelp wrote: “Analyze your audience, there are five major types: 1) dedicated and knowledgeable of subject; 2) adults in real interest in subject; 3) adults who are affluent, causual interest in history, coffee table book 4 juvenile readers aimed at schools and library sales; 5) adults living outside of your area, the sophisticated author

Good news these days, it is easier to get published; bad news is that the specialist monograph only sells about 200-300 copies on average.

Midlists title – appeal to non specialists, ex military, history, Civil war
Fixed costs and variable costs – the first being about research, design, etc.
You may save on paper and binder if you go with e-books. Savings in electronic, short essay “Why Books Cost” Convert to files for e-readers, desktop composition
Important to distinguish audience vs. paying customers
Research tools on web, customer base vs. audience to justify expense of book 7% of book titles sell more than 1,000 copies.
We live in an age of do-it-yourself, actually selling a book is hard. You want a full service publisher, an intl. publisher, someone who can effectively promote your book

Syracuse Univ. Press has served as an incubator
10 important questions 1) what are the design strategies, how are you involved?
2) 70% of e-books bringing books to where the readers are, order e-books
3) where publisher sells books
4) individual bookstore, publisher websites, find out the places books are sold
Figure out who buys the book
Editorial vision – narrow focused to do well
5) ask publisher what subject they front list and back list 400 titles, look at their catalogs
Editors in Chief – hands on editors
They spend a LOT on covers
6) what is the most important thing to publish this book (honor a community?)
Community building, digital shorts, library aggregators, Project Muse or J-Stor
Repurposed for sale, chapters
Wendy freshman, living History
7) are there ways my book be a part of public, publishing IS community
8) what partnership they have developed, events, promotions, newspaper, radio, pod-casts
Finally, Books + MNopedia + MN history journal (5,000 word article)
9) keep content alive and audiences active, get help from Debbie Miller,

Kent Calder talked with Univ. press, it is different than Historical society presses
This is an extention of the parent institution, scholarly, intellectual, and creative
Titles related to a regional community of interest

Monograph – 700-1000, you would be lucky to sell 200-300 copies
Offer broader presentations for general public, “peer review” the University can find a bigger audience
They like well crafted proposals, how to send out a proposal

Successful proposals – In house editorial committee, expert readers in 4 weeks and then Faculty Advisory board, multidisciplinary, you can suggest readers in proposal

P&L Project 750 copies at $29.95 hard cover, 68% (must be higher than 50%)

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More Information about THEE university in Kazakstan

The other day I started an article that was written by Joseph Kucera titled “Can a homegrown university in authoritarian Kazakhstan incubate reform?” Only time will tell but it is something to watch and I believe the rest of the world SHOULD be watching Kazakhstan. Here is the second part of the article:

The government’s original vision for the school aimed to create a new technocratic elite by focusing on science and engineering. But pressure from the foreign partners convinced Nazarbayev to include the school of humanities and social sciences, which is where things get difficult for a country that insists on controlling the public narrative.

Students are required to take a course called the History of Kazakhstan. It uses primary source documents to teach from a critical perspective rather than the government-approved version of history designed to promote patriotism more than stimulate thought. For example, one of the seminal events of the founding of modern Kazakhstan was a wave of protests in 1986, when Kazakhs opposed the Kremlin’s appointment of an ethnic Russian as first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. The event is now portrayed as the awakening of a Kazakh political identity. But at the time, Nazarbayev, then the second-ranking official in Kazakhstan, publicly condemned the protests, a fact that is glossed over in official hagiographies.

Zbigniew Wojnowski, a Polish-born, British-educated professor who teaches the course, wrote about one student’s reaction to this revelation in an academic association newsletter, “She did not altogether reject what she had believed before, and she refrained from drawing binary distinctions into ‘Western’ and ‘Kazakh’ views on the past. Still, she was visibly excited to learn something new. ‘You know, I have never worked with primary sources before, and I assumed it had all been very simple: People strove for independence, and then they won. That’s what we were taught at school, but now I’m just not sure what to think.’”

By hiring professors accustomed to academic freedom, the authorities have begun a process they can’t control, says Alima Bissenova, an anthropology professor who grew up in Kazakhstan and earned a Ph.D. at Cornell. “You can’t control people, and if you try to control them, they’ll leave. If they started to tell me what to teach, I’ll leave,” she says. While the university does not use the tenure system, the law regulating the university guarantees academic freedom, and so far, “the authorities have fully respected that,” Katsu says.

Bissenova compared Nazarbayev University to the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum, the Russian imperial high school, which in the 19th century brought in French and German teachers to educate the children of the elite and ended up producing liberal rebels like Alexander Pushkin. “So academics are sowing the seeds of liberal education on foreign soil without knowing what will grow out of it,” she says. “And nobody completely controls this process — not academics themselves, not the administration of N.U., not Nazarbayev. Nobody knows what will grow and how these seeds will adapt and what kind of hybrids will emerge. Some people, from all sides, might not like what will grow.”

But this, at least in part, is the idea. “We decided to bring some Western values and see how they can work and if our population and our intellectual circles are ready to accept them,” says Yerbol Orynbayev, an assistant to President Nazarbayev who has been closely involved in the development of the university.

The government has not shown much interest in adopting liberal values, however, at least in the short term. The parliament contains no opposition members, and the country has systematically closed down independent newspapers and jailed opposition activists on spurious charges. Even small protests are quickly shut down and their participants arrested. Kazakhstan’s ratings on political and civic freedom are lower than when it gained independence, according to Washington-based human rights organization Freedom House, which labels the country “not free.”

At the same time, always mindful of its image abroad, Kazakhstan has paid millions to lobbyists, PR companies and think tanks in Washington and European capitals to promote an image of a progressive, modernizing country. Nazarbayev University — whether or not it turns out to be a truly liberalizing force — neatly dovetails with those efforts. And some critics, when the university was set up, noted that a side benefit of educating the country’s youth at home rather than overseas was that it would limit their exposure to possibly dangerously liberal ideas from abroad.

(to be continued)

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The Lame Horse: Kui-Legend for the Dombra

Yesterday one of my English teaching colleagues, Ainur Baisakalov,  gave a talk about the “concept of the nature sacredness in the Kazakh traditional music.”  Ainur first started with a tongue-in-cheek phrase “the Soviet Union has an unpredictable history.” I thought it was his way of saying Kazakhstan also has an unpredictable future because of being tied in with the Soviet Union’s “playfulness” with the truth about Kazakhstan’s history.  In any case, Ainur is passionate to restore the nomadic culture and its lifestyle with its morals.  He knows that the nation can never go back to the nomad’s way of life.  What troubles Ainur is the young Kazakhs of today don’t know their own sacred nomadic heritage. 

However, Ainur lost me when he started talking about the Slaviks being agrarian based versus the Kazakh nomadic lifestyle.  The Russian farmers went by a year-by-year or linear calendar whereas the Kazakhs have a spiral upwards from birth of 6 months, then 6 years and then 12 years to make 5 rings up to 60 or 61. (the first 60 years is considered the first mashell?) He also noted that the 12 year period is a sacred number for Kazakhs and has been proven in science with Jupiter’s rotation around the Sun every 12 years.  Something about a dangerous period of the psychological state of the nation or people, I wasn’t sure what that meant.  But the nomads could tell the patterns of the stars and they would arrange their activities according to the signs in the nightsky. Our speaker claimed the Kazakh would look at the sky like a European looks at his watch!

Ainur had other Russian quotes he used which I’ll have to check with him on the correct translation.  The best part was when he showed a young man playing a dombra instrument which was an improvization of “The Lame Horse.”  To create a Kui Legend you start with a story from a sage and then a composer of music builds a tune around it, the performer tells the story first and then plays it.  Soon everyone knows the story so they don’t even need to hear the legend before it is played, in this case there are 17 versions of the same.  Then our speaker had a video of his skillfully playing on the piano the same dombra rendition.  It was successfully captured by the composer Mendykulov.  The following are the words that go with the song:

Freely lived in steppe,
The lame horse suddenly had become alerted.
Your son, disturbing
His calm,
Is lost.
To tell you this even
It is me, dombra,
Came from faraway.
All, that happened,
I will tell you.
Listen carefully to me,
Tribesman,
Headed by the khan.

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