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An Uneven Playing Field
Turkey’s runoff election, symbolic pogroms in Poland, and more
June 15, 2023
In this week’s issue of Public Seminar, Helen Schulman shares an excerpt from her new novel, inspired by a real-life spy story at the heart of #MeToo, Irena Grudzińska-Gross tracks anti-Semitic actions in Poland, Mette Kierstein follows Mott Street Girls on a tour of Chinatown, and Selin Bengi Gumrukcu responds to the 2023 Turkish elections.
Fear or Hope?
In the wake of Turkey’s runoff election, supporters of the Republican People’s Party (headed by Kemal Kilicdaroglu) and other opposition groups feel “ghosted” by their own leaders, writes Selin Bengi Gumrukcu. “While Erdogan, in his election night speech to supporters, stressed that the fight was far from over, Kilicdaroglu and his allies couldn’t hide their disappointment, retreating into a shell of stunned silence. Kilicdaroglu’s supporters were left without any clear explanation for this unexpected turn of events, or any clear strategy about how to mobilize voters for the runoff election. They also were left facing an uneven playing field, as the regime’s control of TRT, the state television network, insured that staggeringly disproportionate coverage would be given to the final two weeks of Erdogan’s campaign (35 hours according to one study—in contrast to the 35 minutes dedicated to Kilicdaroglu’s campaign).” (June 14, 2023)
Chinese American History
“Telling the stories about Golden Unicorn and other restaurants is ‘not just about the food,’ Huang told me at the restaurant as the beige paper tablecloth disappeared under a mosaic of bamboo steamers filled with assorted rice rolls, buns, and dumplings. ‘It’s about knowing the story of the business. And actually,’ she said, ‘it’s more than that too. It is actually about being a part of the community.’” Mette Kierstein explores lower Manhattan with Anna Huang and Chloe Chan of Mott Street Girls, a walking tour company dedicated to Chinese American history. (June 12, 2023)
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Stranger than Fiction
In an excerpt from Helen Schulman’s new novel, Lucky Dogs (Knopf, 2023), a film star reeling from sexual assault finds herself the target of international espionage. “In flight from Paris to LA, I stashed my red leather billfold—where I kept my euros and various other foreign IDs and bank cards—in a side pocket of my backpack next to my lip balm, tweezers, and magnifying mirror. My plan had been to spend the next twelve hours revitalizing my career by plucking out each and every one of my eyebrow hairs, a blissfully labor-intensive succession of satisfaction-inducing pain.” (June 8, 2023)
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The Symptoms of Anti-Semitism
“On May 30, in Warsaw, the Polish Sejm deputy Grzegorz Braun interrupted a lecture by Professor Jan Grabowski, a historian reporting on the state of research about the World War II extinction of Polish Jews. Braun climbed onto the rostrum, threatening Grabowski, and trashed the microphone and speakers—as if not only physically, but also symbolically taking away the lecturer’s voice.” Irena Grudzińska-Gross examines a series of recent public anti-Semitic actions in Poland. (June 13, 2023)