hiatus, return, renew

Dr Anne here. After a long, loooong pause…we’re back. <Phew!>

The pandemic ground our ‘100 Countries’ project to a halt, like so many things, evaporating every scrap of motivation to carry on. By March 2020, all remaining travel for research I’d scheduled for the year (27 countries, scaling back after 55 countries in 2019) was of course cancelled. And even as the field research for 105 countries and 5 territories, more than we set out to do, had already been completed, somehow even writing up the remaining 20 or so photo essays seemed a Herculean task. Following a spate of such in July 2020, we’d not returned to this blog.

Yet here we are. At last. When 2022 arrived, it came in on a fresh breeze, as if something had shifted. With the more recent Lunar New Year, that feeling intensified. A new beginning. The pandemic rages on. We must still take many precautions. And yet — something new is unquestionably in the air, and many report a feeling of hope, and a movement forward. Not back, not reclaiming, but toward something yet to be discovered.

A view across the Golden Horn from Beyoglu to Fatih, the Bosphorus just to the left. Photo by Dr Anne Hilty, 2021.

I find myself now settled in Istanbul. My summer base since 2018 with annual visits starting in 2009, this ancient city was my landing point when the world ground to a halt in March 2020 and I’ve made it my home. A true ‘centre of the world’ and blend of European, Asian, Middle Eastern cultural features, with even a dash of Russia and the Caucasus, and of course: the Central Steppe heritage that the Turks brought with them when they migrated to this land. Beneath it all lies Anatolian culture, and much further back, the Mesopotamian cradle of humanity. An ancient and extraordinarily complex region indeed.

Hong Kong’s iconic harbour and skyline. Photo by Dr Anne Hilty, 2019.

EWP remains headquartered in Hong Kong, a land close to my heart and where I last spent 7 weeks in early pandemic days, just before the world shut down. As the SAR has especially strict entry requirements now, I don’t know when I’ll see it again — and considering its turmoil in the past few years, indeed starting with the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ of early 2014, I remain concerned for its future.

A piece of my heart remains always in South Korea, where I lived for a total of 10 years, and particularly on Jeju Island, where 5 of those years were spent in deep cultural research. I’m working on 2 new Jeju-related books at this time: Goddesses and Strong Women: Mythology of Jeju Island, South Korea, and Tamna: Jeju Island’s Unique Cultural Heritage, both due out later this year. As well, the next photo essay in this 100 Countries series will focus on South Korea — the cultural content of which has been bursting onto the global stage of late.

In other news…we’ve a new EWP site address! I’ve also a new site on Medium — just now launching, articles coming soon. My original blog from long ago, sleeping since 2012(!), has been renamed as LiteraryNomad, reorganised, and reactivated, to host articles on a wide range of topics. This very EWP site has also been renovated, including my writing portfolio. New cultural research, here in 5 regıons of Türkiye, is scheduled for this spring. I’ll be doing some guest-blogging and writing more newspaper and magazine articles this summer. and offering webinars and online courses in autumn.

And so it goes. I hope you too are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. May the world, imagined as a turtle in many indigenous cultures, turn itself right side up soon. Be well.