Japanese cat writing

I love cats, but am not crazy about them and certainly not a cat vs dog person. I like cats a reasonable amount. A while ago, however, I stumbled upon Junichiro Tanizaki’s cat story, read it out of curiosity and absolutely loved it. Months later, I caught myself remembering it as a B&W film, so lucid and expressive is its language and storytelling.

I’ve been going back to it again and again, and so thought of making a little reading project with #Japanese #cat stories. So far, I’ve discovered another four, but suspect there might be more. For the moment, I’ll read three to see how it goes.

The second cat novel in the project is “The Guest Cat” by Takashi Hiraide. This one, also a novella type, is about a cat that visits a couple in #Tokyo as a guest. My children and I can relate to this, as we regularly host guest cats :), mostly in the summer time.

I am undecided as to what to read as the third story. There is the contemplative “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa, the perhaps funny “If Cats Disappeared from the World” by Genki Kawamura, or Soseki Natsume’s classic “I am a Cat”.

While I’m here: I feel two more reading projects coming up: one with owls and one with wolves. I could start the owl project with “The Owl who Liked Sitting on Caesar”, but how to continue? I will make another post for the wolf project when I start it.

Honeymoon in Tehran

I receive a number of search hits from people who look for my name in connection with Azadeh Moaveni and her book Honeymoon in Tehran.  I also receive occasional questions. While it is true that my name is mentioned in that book, I wish to distance myself from Azadeh Moaveni and her book Honeymoon in Tehran. Those who know me more closely know that I never read that book with the exception of two paragraphs in the pre-publication phase.

Year 2016 in numbers

Bibliographia Iranica started in May 2015. Although I had received positive feedback about my bibliographic posts on my own blog, it was unclear how well a dedicated bibliographic website for Iranian Studies would be received. I am glad to say that the academic as well as the general reception of our collective effort here at Bibliographia Iranica has been very positive and encouraging. And we know that our user base continues to grow. And so, before the new year advances too far and becomes old news, we should review the statistics for the past year.

In 2016, we had 33,417 views on our website. This number does not account for the post views and shares on our Facebook or Twitter accounts. With 1,147 views, the announcement of the Summer school in the Turfanforschung was the most viewed post on the blog. We had 17,576 visitors from 127 countries, the USA leading with 8211 visitors. We published an impressive 165 announcements, “Avesta” being the most searched term on the blog.

The success of Bibliographia Iranica owes much to the fact that it is a collective effort, and we hope that our user base continues to grow. There will hopefully be new developments in 2017 which I will announce in due course.

Abadan:Retold

Abadan:Retold is an innovative, multi-media social history project invented and managed by Rasmus Christian Elling, an Associate Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

A crucial part of the project is an online portal (www.abadan.wiki) with multiple functions.

  • The AbadanMap: a multi-layered interactive map based on GIS data, human data and historical information, drawing on a broad range of maps from open sources and from historical archives;
  • Encyclopaedia Abadanica: an archive of research-based articles by excellent scholars on all aspects of Abadan’s history, from ancient times to present-day, as well as on Abadani popular culture;
  • MemoryLine: a user-driven history wiki – an open platform on which everyone can share memories and knowledge through comments, essays, interviews and pictures, and where you can discover new faces or re-connect with old friends.

Abadan:Retold is part of a larger research project on documenting the history of Abadan in a global context, for which Rasmus Christian Elling received a grant from the Danish Arthur Christensen Foundation. The project has also been supported by private individuals who donated money during the crowdfunding campaign in February 2015.

You can follow the progress of the project on its FB page!

Closure of ‘small Humanities programmes’!

Stop the Cuts
Image source: http://3909.cupe.ca/files/2013/05/Stop-the-Cuts.jpg

At BiblioIranica, we usually do not comment on issues beyond our academic interests in ancient Iran. However, it would be wrong, if we did not express our disappointment after hearing the news of the closure of ‘small Humanities programmes’ at the University of Copenhagen. As the University Post reports, the “Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen will shut down five smaller study programmes permanently”. A full list of the threatened programmes, and the university’s plans are published here.

Oriental Studies have a long tradition in Denmark, and Danish scholars have made and continue to make significant contributions to Oriental and Iranian Studies. It is very distressing to read that some of the ‘small’ programmes will be closed, among which are Indology and Tibetology.

See the following links for the history of Iranian Studies in Denmark:

A safe haven for Syrians

30 people within Cambridge, and another 40 in the surrounding areas have pledged to house refugees. This is just within the last few days and to just one organisation. Another 5,495 have volunteered within the UK to help once the refugees arrive. Please help to increase these numbers. Pledge your support here:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/uk_refugees_volunteer_thank_you_3/

“Thinking of going to Calais?”

If you are planning to go to Calais as a volunteer, please read this piece by Alison Playford.

Thinking of going to Calais? I’ve just got back and would like to share some thoughts with you.

It appears that a large wave of European citizens are in the process of taking ‘aid’ to Calais and other areas in Europe where migrants and refugees are camped or travelling.

People in the UK and across Europe who are distressed to see pictures of drowned children want to help. I am glad to see this response, but would like to add a few points to the debate, as I think that we are in danger of perpetuating the problem by framing the situation through the political lens of those who created it.

Panini, Sanskrit and software development

BBC Radio 4 is currently exploring aspects of Indian history based on biographies of 50 important Indian historical figures: Incarnations: India in 50 Lives. Yesterday’s programme happened to be on the Indian grammarian Panini, whose grammar—according to this programme—played a pivotal role in making Sanskrit the lingua franca of South Asia for more than a millennium.

If you like Sheldon Pollock, you will enjoy the episode on Panini, as Pollock briefly speaks about Sanskrit and cosmopolitanism. Towards the end of the programme he suggests that Sanskrit’s role in developing literacy contributed to India’s success in software development, contrasting this with China as a hardware developing country. I am not entirely convinced by this, but it is interesting thought nonetheless.

You can catch up with the episode on BBC Radio 4.

A new bibliographic blog!

As was planned, I have now moved this blog to a new location at Bibliographia Iranica. While purpose and scope remain largely the same, the new blog will be maintained by Sajad Amiri, Shervin Farridnejad, Yazdan Safaee and myself (Arash Zeini). I hope that we will be able to post more frequently on the new blog. On Facebook, the posts will be available on a dedicated page called Bibliographia Iranica. A Twitter account and Google+ page are forthcoming. Please do send us information about events and publications that you would like to see on the blog.

Thank you very much to all friends and colleagues who liked the idea of this bibliographic blog, encouraging me to widen its scope. And many thanks to Sajad, Shervin and Yazdan for agreeing to collaborate on the new site.