Summer 2013 2273Mountains and The Sea is and isn’t a travel blog. I used to view myself as a traveler; up until recently I was an expat, so part of the blog is about experiences living abroad.  It’s also a place where I explore ideas and questions that hooked me in academia: How do people create communities? How do political bodies become nations? How do nations incorporate minorities with disparate backgrounds into their national history? How do the languages we acquire change the way we shape our communities?


Peter Cat, le lazy photobomber.

There’s also a lot of food, a lot of cat pics, expat advice, analysis of news pertaining to Turkey and Central Asia, and occasionally a few too many rants about Bishkek. As I’m a new parent, it seems most of my recent posts have at least touched on that topic. I hope it will be informative, or at least interesting.  We all trace different paths traveling; even if you don’t agree with my views, they may at least help you see the same sights and sounds in a different light.

Navigating Your Way Around the Blog:

Blog: This is my ongoing, ever-updated blog where you will find all the aforementioned (and much, much more!)


Cappadocia, Turkey

Some of my most popular posts to date are:

Places: Eventually this may include travel/expat guides to Urumqi, Bishkek, Ankara, and my favorite vacation spots stretching the Turkish Riviera. You can also look for posts under the category Bishkek Guide

Books: Book reviews, free language books available online.

Nokut Uyghur Food

Uyghur-Style Nokut and Liangpi

Collected Stories: I’ve left photos and stories scattered across half-a-dozen blogs since beginning my journey.  Here I’m finally beginning to collect and edit the tales from China, Chicago, Central Asia and everywhere in between, from high-tech punk concerts in Beijing to almost being bride-napped in a rural Yi village locked in the Sichuan highlands to sweating out summer days in an old red communist riverside town.

Food: Food. Pictures and recipes, enough to make you hop on the next plane (or just cruise down a new grocery aisle)

Language: Basic travel language guides and language-learning resources for Turkish, Chinese, and Uyghur. Print off the guide and stick them in your pocket.

My Other Sites: Social Media, a trail of blogs tracing my travels in China, a few professional sites

And…A Little Bit About Me:


photobombing kitten

I’m a History PhD student recently returned to the US after several years living in Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. I lived in China for four, five years after graduating from Reed College.  There I lived in Beijing; Lincang, Yunnan; Heqing, Dali, Yunnan; Foshan/Guangzhou; and Urumqi, Xinjiang.  While living and exploring all corners of the country I developed strong interests in how rural-urban migrants are re-conceptualizing their personal and community identities, and how states use/attempt to use language policy in propaganda and education in an effort to shape national, local and ethnic identities, particularly among minorities and in border regions. I’m now hoping to explore how political states (particularly China and Turkey) have re-cast (ahem, created) their histories in order to justify their existence as modern nations, in particular looking at the role of ethnic minorities and diasporas within this national history.  My main focus will (likely) be on the Turkic peoples of Northwest China, as they straddle that role of diaspora and ethnic minority.



4 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello there, interesting info here. I am also a U.S. citizen currently living in Bishkek (I just marry my fiancée who I met at NAU Flagstaff). So far, I like it here (totally different than the US). I noticed that people could be rude as you mention if you don’t speak the language (which I don’t, but some are nice as well) and I also noticed how the police stops cars on daily basis (I don’t know if I should get a car because of this). It is really inexpensive to live in this city. Perhaps you could help me with some tips via email (or get together at your convenience) to help me get “adjusted” in Bishkek, thanks.


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