The Ministry of Eagles

The Ministry of Eagles While visiting a friend in Kazakhstan’s capital last week, I dropped in on Yerlen Ospanov, the Acting Director of the Association for National Sports. I first met Yerlen at the IAF meeting in Qatar, where he struck me as an ambitious young man who cared a lot about his country and… Continue reading The Ministry of Eagles

Falconry in Fairytales

One of the joys of Bishkek is its sidewalk book dealers, ruddy middle-aged men who lay Soviet books out on bedsheets and give them away for a buck, two bucks, three bucks. I live in Kazakhstan these days but was over the border in Kyrgyzstan for the weekend when I spotted one of these booksellers… Continue reading Falconry in Fairytales

The National Library of Kyrgyzstan Has the Nicest Librarians

The National Library of Kyrgyzstan Has the Nicest Librarians I had fond memories of the librarians in Bishkek. My first trip there, during my Fulbright year in 2010, I went to the National Library of Kyrgyzstan with my research assistant Abay and we were waited on hand and foot. Maybe they were just super thrilled… Continue reading The National Library of Kyrgyzstan Has the Nicest Librarians

Kyrgyz Falconers Use Falcons

Kyrgyz Falconers Use Falcons, Too The bürkütchülör, or eagle hunters, of Kyrgyzstan are world famous. In my Fulbright research on Kyrgyz falconry, I tried to understand the roots and implications of this fame, and I worked almost entirely with bürkütchülör. Lately, I’ve been regretting that I didn’t spend more time speaking to falconers who flew smaller birds of prey,… Continue reading Kyrgyz Falconers Use Falcons

The Internet May Love Eagle Huntresses, but the Eagle Hunters Certainly Don’t

The Internet May Love Eagle Huntresses, but the Eagle Hunters Certainly Don’t Until last week, Makpal Abdrazakova was the internet’s favorite eagle huntress, and I played no small part in her fame. I travelled hundreds of miles by train and bus across the flat steppe of Kazakhstan to meet her in her village, do an… Continue reading The Internet May Love Eagle Huntresses, but the Eagle Hunters Certainly Don’t