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Open source, open mind. A personal manifesto

Today is Independence Day. I spent all morning thinking how academe, albeit claiming intellectual freedom, is dependent on for-profit corporations.
How we willingly let publishers and tech companies profit during the course of our work. Work that we claim is not for profit, but for the greater good of the human kind.
Recently, I have coauthored a book chapter. For those unfamiliar with academic book publishing scheme, this is the process:

1. Academics pitched a book to a publisher. Academics waited for the publisher to accept or to decline overall proposal of the book.
2. It was accepted. Chapter authors pitched their chapter abstracts to the initiators (academics) of the book.
3. We had our chapter proposal accepted. 4. We wrote our chapter.
5. We corresponded back and forth with the initiators of the book to review and to fix the chapter (e.g. citation styles, table styles and so on)).
6. We waived our “exclusive, sole, permanent, world-wide, transferable, sub-licensable and unlim…
Recent posts

Sociology of Outer Space

Space Girls: gender and status in space analog facilities

NASA has scheduled the first manned mission to Mars by 2030s. Soon human society will expand beyond this planet. But humans will have to endure a very long and crowded flight before settling in anywere. And even then, it will take years to expand living and working quarters beyond bare minimum. The start of our space colonization will be, beyond doubt, very claustrophobic:
Psychologists have long been studying dynamics of small isolated groups to determine how people cohabit and work together in extreme isolation. As cosmonaut Valery Ryumin wrote in his personal diary in 1980, “All the necessary conditions to perpetrate a murder are met by locking two men in a cabin of 18 by 20 feet . . . for two months.” Murdering aside, I am more interested what happens when mixed-gender small group work and live together in an isolated confined extreme environment. Away from everyone else, this group essentially constitutes a micro society. But is this micro society immune from social forces, such…

Teaching Philosophy

In sociology, we spend a lot of time discussing and dissecting reasons and consequences of social inequality. My mission as an educator does not stop with my students’ mastery of the content of the class. I am pushing for more. I want my students to apply sociological concepts to understand and to solve real world problems. My students ought to become active and well-informed citizens and community leaders.
To achieve that, I strive to broaden students’ horizon and to deepen their critical thinking skills. The road to success starts with an inclusive syllabus that represents authors from different gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds. I will not compose a specific ‘minority’ or ‘gender’ week, but rather have a syllabus that overall reflects more than just the White Middle-Class American narrative.
I encourage students to question everything, but they must use factual and theoretical evidence from a respectable academic source to back up their ideas. I am a proponent of the student-c…

Sunni and Shia Muslims in Georgia: a Societal Margin in Motion? (in the Caucasus Analytical Digest, #81)

Abstract

This article offers a concise overview of the different Muslim groups in Georgia, and discusses their identity issues and socioeconomic situation as well as the current actions of the state directed towards their integration. The Muslim communities in Georgia, which consist primarily of Azeri, Adjarians and Kist, generally form a marginal group in society since they are not perceived to be full members of the Georgian nation due to their confessional background and, in case of Azeri and Kist, linguistic factors. A large majority of the Muslims in Georgia also live in rural regions where the overall economic and social predicament often negatively differ from that in the majority culture and in urban areas. Hence the question is whether specific socioeconomic conditions and identity issues and alienation contribute to forms of radicalization among Georgia’s Muslim communities or whether there are dynamics of integration in Georgian society.

Radicalization in Georgia: a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Georgia's Pankisi Gorge has been portrayed as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism. Its ethnic Kist residents suffer poverty and discrimination – a distant government and sensationalist media coverage alienate them further.
A narrow valley in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, Pankisi Gorge is back on the local and international media radar. In fact, Pankisi has been the centre of attention for the past year after it wasdiscovered in June 2014 that Abu Omar Al-Shishani, a leading commander in Islamic State, was born and raised here.

Lithuania needs to listen to its Poles before the Kremlin does (Jun 2015)

Lithuania's Polish and Russian minorities are oddly friendly with each other, which is causing a headache for the Lithuanian government. Here's how to avoid a potential disaster.
Vilnius (Wilno), the capital of Lithuania. Wikimedia. Public domain.Poles are the biggest ethnic minority in Lithuania. There are over 200,000 Poles (6.6% of the population) and 177,000 Russians (5.8%) in the country of 3 million people. Russians are scattered throughout the country, but Poles are concentrated in south-eastern Lithuania and comprise a local majority in the Salcininkai (Soleczniki in Polish) and Vilnius (Wilno) districts, which both comprise the Vilnius region.