Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Scholar (re the Fulbright program in Russia)

Mark H. Teeter added 4 new photos. [FB comment by MHT posted here with his kind ok; yellow highlights by JB]
9 hrs

So Friday a.m. I’m out of the blocks early for a day of panel-interviewing Russian applicants for the Fulbright Faculty Development Program: 5 mos. on my taxpayer dime at a US university where young (and young-ish) Russian social science/humanities profs can (a) raise their own games, (b) keep Russian scholarship (more) current w/ developments when they get back and (c) just be, y’know, good ‘n’ positive Reps of the Homeland as we’re all being sucked deeper into Cold War II.

Over modest Voskhod Hotel coffee w/ a veteran Fulbright staff member/old friend – I’ve been doing these things for 15 (or 150?) yrs or so – we have this sotto voce exchange:
MHT: “I’m really glad you guys are still in business. Fulbright must be one of the last programs that-- …”
Fb Staffer: “Actually, we *are* the last.”
♪♩ Dum-da-dum-dum ♪♩: that’s the Dragnet musical cue for the Slow Flashback that’s ominously segueing onto my brainpan's viewscreen:
It’s 1981, post-Afghanistan invasion, state-to-state relations are hitting new lows on all fronts; Blair Ruble and I are in Moscow as the Kennan Institute side of a joint Soviet-American humanities/social sciences research project with INION of the USSR Academy of Sciences. And we suddenly realize the same thing: between these two national powerhouses of social science/humanities scholarship, inquiry and instruction, there remains precisely one [1] active joint research project. You look across the table at the guys from INION; you look at each other; and you can’t help but think, “Yikes. We’re *it*? This is crazy.”

It *was* crazy. And it’s just as crazy now. While it is a certainty that at some point we will both come jogging out of the dark and anti-scholarly woods again, it is clear now that the course we're running may be a very long one. So: all best wishes to Fulbright and big Congrats to Friday's 2nd-round FDP winners! Keep running, all of you, and we’ll keep cheering you on.

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