I don't think that anything I have posted has got as impassioned a reaction as my announcement that I would be retiring East Ethnia after a year. It seemed like as good a time as any to hang it up. Over a year of blogging, the site has got a decent and active regular readership, some people have (with any luck) been challenged, informed or entertained, a few good debates have been hosted, and I have learned a couple of HTML and CSS tricks. October has been the second most successful month in the life of the blog in terms of number of visits (the most successful month was a fluke: an item was linked by a popular Belgian newspaper, and everything went wild for a couple of days).
My thinking was that the amount of writing I was doing for East Ethnia could be directed toward something more permanent, especially the couple of books I have in plan. My first book was enjoyed by literally dozens of people, and even translated, which gave me the chance to collaborate with the wonderful Biljana Lukić (for whom it turned out, sadly, to have been her last translation). Now I want to move forward on a big project on public memory, together with my brilliant colleague Aleksandra Milićević of Colgate University and my brilliant student Tiberiu Galis. I also have a couple of projects which have been on the back burner for a while that I want to move up, especially two projects on organised crime and the “informal economy.” This means grant applications, research trips and – especially – writing. I guess there are people who manage to combine family, job, blog and professional writing, but it is hard to imagine myself as one of those overachievers.
What I did not expect was that there would be people who would want the blog to continue. Thanks to Katja, Catherine, Darko, Bora, La Lara, Michael and Daniel for your kind words of encouragement. Even Mrs Ethnia got in on the campaign, and the little Ethniette told me, “Tata, I can't imagine you without the blog.” Media presence, eh wot?
Seeking sources of wisdom in this dilemma, I remembered the person who lived next door to us when I was young. She ran a restaurant, the only really authentic Chinese restaurant for miles around in those days (anyone remember the Six Persimmons in Coupeville, Washington?). It was a fabulous place, her set menu. I haven't found a place in my life with food as good as hers. It was a kid's dream to work her stand at the Coupeville festival every summer – all the spring rolls and jook I could eat, and jasmine iced tea! And the parties they had – Mongolian barbecue on the beach in the summer, Mongolian hot pot by the fire in the winter! When she got a bit older she decided the restaurant was more work than she wanted to do, and wanted to shut it down. But her fans (next door) resisted, so she compromised: she moved to a smaller place with a smaller menu. Eventually she would only open the place on Fridays, the day my father would work in Coupeville, and for the last couple of years before she quit entirely he may have been her only regular customer. She has long since retired, but it was a day for celebration when my sister found some of her recipes.
So I will follow her example. I can't maintain the pace of several posts every day, but I'll keep East Ethnia open and put up new items from time to time, according to inspiration. This might be once a week or less, certainly not daily. And I will thank everyone for their support.