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POSTCARDS FROM STANLAND

Across the vast steppe and mountain ranges, to fabled Silk Road cities, the Soviet rust belt and the futuristic architecture of Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, my offbeat memoir takes you to a remote, diverse and strategically vital region--the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.  That jumble of countries whose names end in -stan: Stanland.   

You'll meet teachers, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, cab-drivers and market sellers to learn about their history, culture and struggle to survive in the post-Soviet era.  You'll enjoy the stories and landscapes, but be happy you skipped the dangerous flights and bad hotels.

Postcards from Stanlandpublished in March 2016 by the Ohio University Press. Available at Amazon or Swallow Press

Reviews

 “The ideal author to demystify the region and its people.”  Library Journal.

 “A genial travel guide … an academic who doesn’t write like an academic." Kirkus Reviews. 

"Postcards from Stanland is strongest when it discusses the subtleties of national and ethnic identity, the lingering and often still strong political, cultural and personal relationship with Russia, and the way the past affects the present." The Asian Review of Books.

"With its rich depiction of life in Central Asia and authoritative yet accessible style, Postcards deserves a wide audience, from high school students to secretaries of state."  Eurasianet.

"Part memoir, part tour guide, part commentary, it is a casual, hybrid book ... Its stylistic flexibility is a strength, allowing Mould to provide snapshots of ordinary life and bite-sized accounts of unusual encounters. His excitement and thrill in discovering a land about which so little is known, where geographical, cultural and even religious worlds collide, is evident." New Eastern Europe.

Read and hear excerpts at Travel Blogs from Asia and Africa and on

Facebook: PostcardsFromStanland

 YouTube: http://bit.ly/davidhmould

What inspired me to write the book? See The Writing of Postcards from Stanland

Will there be a second book? I hope so. I've started work on a new project that will describe travels in countries in and around the Indian Ocean--from Madagascar to Indonesia. No publisher yet, but I've started writing. See Monsoon Postcards. Or a Book in Search of a Title

 

Upcoming readings and presentations

April 13: Lakewood Public Library, Ohio

May 1, 7:00 p.m.  Westerville Public Library, Meeting Room A, 126 South State St., Westerville, Ohio

October 17, 7:00 p.m. Old Worthington Library, 820 High St., Worthington, Ohio (jointly sponsored by Worthington International Friendship Association)

 

 

 

 

Description:

Central Asia has long stood at the crossroads of history.  It was the staging ground for the rampaging armies of the Mongol Empire, for the 19th century "Great Game," the struggle between the Russian and British empires for geopolitical influence, and for the NATO campaign in Afghanistan.  Today, multinationals and nations compete for natural resources, including the oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea.  Yet "Stanland" is still, to many, a terra incognita, a vast geographical blank. Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry struggled, famously creating the new country of "Kyrzakhstan." 

I've traveled, worked and conducted research in Central Asia since the mid-1990s, trying to understand the changes that have taken place in the people's lives in the post-Soviet era.  As I traveled, I made notes on everything from landscape, culture, history, politics, environment, media and universities to the challenges of communicating and staying warm.  Recording first impressions was important because what struck me as interesting on first encounter would, after a week or two, seem commonplace. Every week or so, I assembled the notes—recorded in a cheap tetrad (school exercise book) from the bazaar or, less systematically, on napkins, credit card receipts, ticket stubs and pages ripped from airline magazines—and wrote a rambling e-mail letter to a growing circle of family, friends and colleagues.  These letters were the inspiration for this book, documenting what I experienced while the memories were still fresh.  I’ve also written op-eds, essays and features on Central Asia for the Christian Science Monitor, Times Higher Education, Transitions Online, The Montreal Review, and other print and online media.  The book also draws on academic research and interviews on journalism and media.  As such, it presents Central Asia from several perspectives, from the wide-angle views of geopolitics—the contest for political and economic power—to the close-ups of travel, work, eating, shopping, communicating and staying warm.  It's not a travel guide, an academic study, or the kind of analysis produced by policy wonks, although it offers background and insights.  Think of it as a series of scenes or maybe over-sized postcards that I might have sent to friends and family if the postal system in Central Asia had been reliable enough.  

 
  TRAINING/CONSULTING I regularly conduct workshops for journalists, broadcasters, development professionals, university faculty and students in Asia and Africa.  My specialties are reporting on human development issues, including the environment, education and health, legal issues in media, communication for development, research methods, and training of trainers.  I'm currently leading a UNICEF project to assess the capacity of universities in Bangladesh to offer courses and conduct research in communication for development.  In June 2016, I conducted a two-week course on communication for development for junior faculty and doctoral research scholars from Indian universities at Tezpur University in Assam under a program funded by the government of India. In 2015, I led a two-week training-of-trainers course for broadcast managers, engineers and programmers from ASEAN countries in Kuala Lumpur. 

 

TRAINING/CONSULTING

I regularly conduct workshops for journalists, broadcasters, development professionals, university faculty and students in Asia and Africa.  My specialties are reporting on human development issues, including the environment, education and health, legal issues in media, communication for development, research methods, and training of trainers. 

I'm currently leading a UNICEF project to assess the capacity of universities in Bangladesh to offer courses and conduct research in communication for development.  In June 2016, I conducted a two-week course on communication for development for junior faculty and doctoral research scholars from Indian universities at Tezpur University in Assam under a program funded by the government of India. In 2015, I led a two-week training-of-trainers course for broadcast managers, engineers and programmers from ASEAN countries in Kuala Lumpur. 

  UNICEF C4D COURSE Since 2011, I’ve headed a multinational team offering a six-month blended learning course for UNICEF staff.  The course focuses on how to use communication in health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, and other areas. Almost 400 UNICEF staff members from over 60 countries have completed the course.  From 2013 to 2015, we partnered with the School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to hold the two-week workshop; in 2016, our partner was the Department of Communication at the University of Hyderabad in India.

 

UNICEF C4D COURSE

Since 2011, I’ve headed a multinational team offering a six-month blended learning course for UNICEF staff.  The course focuses on how to use communication in health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, and other areas. Almost 400 UNICEF staff members from over 60 countries have completed the course.  From 2013 to 2015, we partnered with the School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to hold the two-week workshop; in 2016, our partner was the Department of Communication at the University of Hyderabad in India.

  american newsfilm To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Routledge republished my 1984 book American Newsfilm 1914–1919: The Underexposed War.  It features the story of the self-styled “photographer-adventurer” Donald Thompson, who shot newsreels, feature-length films and stills in France, Belgium, the Balkans and Russia.  I've also contributed research and photos to Helen Rappaport's new book Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917, which documents the experiences of expatriates including Thompson. I recently finished editing and annotating Thompson's letters describing his experiences in 1917, Donald Thompson in Russia. It will be published by Slavica Press (Indiana University) in its new series, Americans in Revolutionary Russia.  In March 2017, in a series at the University of Kansas to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, I gave a public lecture, "Images of World War One: The Films of Pioneer Kansas Photographer Donald Thompson."

 

american newsfilm

To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Routledge republished my 1984 book American Newsfilm 19141919: The Underexposed War.  It features the story of the self-styled “photographer-adventurer” Donald Thompson, who shot newsreels, feature-length films and stills in France, Belgium, the Balkans and Russia.  I've also contributed research and photos to Helen Rappaport's new book Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917, which documents the experiences of expatriates including Thompson. I recently finished editing and annotating Thompson's letters describing his experiences in 1917, Donald Thompson in Russia. It will be published by Slavica Press (Indiana University) in its new series, Americans in Revolutionary Russia.  In March 2017, in a series at the University of Kansas to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I, I gave a public lecture, "Images of World War One: The Films of Pioneer Kansas Photographer Donald Thompson."


RECENT 

Antananarivo, Madagascar--or at least the view from my window at Les Trois Metis hotel

Antananarivo, Madagascar--or at least the view from my window at Les Trois Metis hotel

ADVENTURES IN MADAGASCAR

Since Fall 2014, I’ve made five visits to Madagascar as a member of a team conducting a social research project for UNICEF on socio-cultural determinants of behavior in maternal and child health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and child protection in three regions.  Our partners are the University of Antananarivo and Madagascar's National Institute for Statistics.  I’ve spent time in the capital, Antananarivo (Tana), traveled to a national park famous for its lemurs, made a two-day trip southwest to the port of Toliara, and visited the Imerina region west of Tana. Read about my travels in Madagascar on Travel Blogs from Asia and Africa.

GLOBAL JOURNALISM PRACTICE AND NEW MEDIA PERFORMANCE

An academic volume co-edited with Yusuf Kalyango, Director of Ohio University’s Institute for International Journalism, was published by Palgrave/Macmillan in December 2014.  Read the back story in "Cast Adrift: Adventures in Academic Editing" in Times Higher Education.

 

  WITH THE RUSSIANS AT THE FRONT To mark the 100th anniversary of a reporting trip to Russia by Chicago Tribune editor Robert R. McCormick with photographer Donald Thompson(above right), I gave a public lecture to a large crowd at the McCormick Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, in June.  The museum had obtained a copy of the the Thompson/McCormick film With the Russians at the Front (unfortunately, only about half the original firm has survived). During my visit, I had time to go through correspondence and diaries in the McCormick archives, which yielded more information about the 1915 trip and Thompson's later exploits.    

 

WITH THE RUSSIANS AT THE FRONT

To mark the 100th anniversary of a reporting trip to Russia by Chicago Tribune editor Robert R. McCormick with photographer Donald Thompson(above right), I gave a public lecture to a large crowd at the McCormick Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, in June.  The museum had obtained a copy of the the Thompson/McCormick film With the Russians at the Front (unfortunately, only about half the original firm has survived). During my visit, I had time to go through correspondence and diaries in the McCormick archives, which yielded more information about the 1915 trip and Thompson's later exploits.