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Essays

Archaeology Turns Political to Benefit a Trio of Middle East Strongmen

Dictators and Hijacked Heritage

Both Saddam and Assad recognized the value of their countries’ archaeological heritage and adapted it to suit their interpretations of what they thought the Baath Socialist Party should be.

Ukraine Embraces its Jewish Minority, and Reckons with its Traumatic History

Ukraine Grapples with its Jewish History

Add it all up, and Ukraine’s Jews are witnessing an unprecedented embrace. “Jews are more accepted today in Ukraine than at any time in its history,” said David Fishman, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America who teaches in Kyiv and has written about Ukraine’s Jews.

Turkey and Japan are Old Friends. Can They Foster New Beginnings?

Turkey and Japan are Old Friends. Can They Foster New Beginnings?

The shipwreck survivors returned home to the Sublime Porte aboard two small Japanese warships, the Kongō and the Hiei. The Ottoman sultan decorated the Japanese sailors who had escorted them on the journey with medals of honor.

Kelly Hammond
A Brief History of Bağcılar, Turkey’s Most Misunderstood Municipality

A Brief History of Bağcılar, Turkey’s Most Misunderstood Municipality

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in,” wrote Robert Frost. In this profile of Bağcılar, one of Istanbul’s most misunderstood districts, we look at the riveting history of Turkey’s self-styled “municipality to the world.”

Evan Pheiffer
In Search of African Arabic

In Search of African Arabic

For Africans, the use of Arabic presents a dilemma: Without the historical role of Arabic, African writers would have been compelled to write in former colonial languages, but many also view the language as the medium of the slave trade that preceded trans-Atlantic slavery. Still, not everything magnificent on the continent must have originated elsewhere.

Vaughn Rasberry
An Enduring Tension: Turkey Caught in the Middle

An Enduring Tension: Turkey Caught in the Middle

The violent dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in World War I created a complex and enduring relationship between Turkish attitudes toward the Arab world and Turkish attitudes toward Europe.

Nicholas Danforth
Ashure: A Sometimes Rich Pudding with an Always Rich History

Ashure: A Sometimes Rich Pudding with an Always Rich History

As a kid who grew up in a mixed Alevi and Sunni neighborhood in Malatya, I listened to all the stories related to the meaning of the ashure pudding. Before then, I just assumed that the pudding was an Alevi-specific dessert.

Suna Çağaptay