Episode 58: Looking back at RAI Leiden: on conferences, and catching up with guests: Transcript

0:16  JT

Hello, and welcome to a special bonus episode of Thin End of the Wedge. I just got back from the big international assyriological conference in Leiden–the Rencontre. I have a few thoughts. For me, this was the first time in what, four years, I guess, when I’ve been together with so many of my colleagues. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces in person again. To be honest, it was also a little bit intense to be suddenly among so many people. It felt very loud. But it was great.

0:52  JT

I took the opportunity to catch up with some of my guests. Two of them were from the very beginning of Thin End of the Wedge. At that stage, I had no experience. I didn’t really know what I was doing. And of course, there were no earlier episodes that the guests could listen to to get a sense of what to expect. I think it worked out pretty well in the end, considering. I’m very grateful to them for being kind enough to help me try something new and different. At the time, both of them were on temporary contracts. Since then, they’ve been selected for tenure track positions. So I just wanted to touch base with them and see how things were going. The third guest is a more established figure. I wanted to talk to her for two reasons. Firstly, because she was giving one of the keynote lectures this year. And secondly, because it’s her responsibility next year to host the Rencontre. So I wanted to hear her thoughts about this one, and what she was planning for the next one. Before we hear their thoughts, though, I want to take host’s privilege to share some of my own thoughts. If you don’t want to hear this, and you prefer to skip straight to the guests, no problem. They start at … 10 minutes and 42 seconds.

2:14  JT

Okay, if you’re still here, I’m assuming you’re up for some conference talk. First of all, I have to say I enjoyed this Rencontre very much. Leiden is a lovely place to visit. The atmosphere of the conference was very friendly. I thought everything was really well organised. You can’t ask for more. So congratulations to the Leiden team. I hope you’re taking some well earned rest.

2:39  JT

There were plenty of good talks by early career researchers. For example, I thought Sasha Yeranin’s talk on his who’s who of Old Babylonian Larsa was really impressive. It’s clearly a lot of work, incorporating traditional and digital methods, and a clear and engaging presentation style. Nice work.

3:00  JT

Although I attended in-person, I was particularly happy to see that so much of the conference was accessible remotely. I really hope that becomes a standard feature of future Rencontres. It might not surprise you to hear that I’m a huge fan of remote participation–talks, workshops and conferences. That ability to connect so easily with people, and with so many different people, it’s just something we can’t let go. I participate in one way or another in lots of remote events these days; far more than would be possible in person. In the old days, we might see an event and think, “wow, that looks interesting. Yeah, but I can’t get away for three days”. Now, it’s just an hour, an afternoon, maybe even in the background while you’re doing something else. I’ve learned so much through those kinds of events. As much as I would like to be there in person, the remote option is a wonderful plan B. I’d hate to see us fall out of that habit.

4:05  JT

For me, events like that are a little bit like the Rencontre. Most of the talks you hear aren’t about what you’re working on. They’re not using the same methods or approaches that you are. But still not only is inherently interesting to hear about the latest research, but for me, at least, it really helps me get thinking again. It’s that making sense of the details, putting things together into the bigger picture, understanding what the significance of things is. I find that really helpful. So even if the talk isn’t actually directly relevant to anything at all that I’m doing, as I’m walking home or something, my own work might pop into my mind and I think “well, actually, hang on. I’ve got an idea here”. It just puts me in a more creative frame of mind.

4:54  JT

I have a few more general comments about the Rencontre: what we do, how we do it, how we might change that in a way that I think could be beneficial. So the typical format is the conference will have a theme. This is something that will be of particular interest to the institution hosting the event. We start with keynote talks, where we all sit together in a plenary session, and listen to distinguished figures from the field set the mood, I guess, provide the context for the topic. Then we’ll have a week of lectures each 30 minutes long. During the course of the week, there’s also a series of workshops. Each of those workshops will be a series of talks, also 30 minutes long, on a particular topic–say, the Ur III period, Sumerian grammar, literature, something like that. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of themes for conferences like this. I understand that’s a slightly controversial opinion to have. I’m sympathetic to the idea that the host institution, in exchange for organising the conference, can choose to celebrate the subjects they’re interested in. I have no problem with that at all. There’s also an argument that it’s useful to have talks grouped together around a particular theme, rather than have lots of very different topics discussed back to back.

6:20  JT

I would take a different position here. I would say two things. Firstly, that if we were to offer papers on our research, they would naturally form into groups that can be scheduled together. I would also say that for a conference lasting an entire week, a little bit of variety might be a positive thing. I think conference fatigue is a real phenomenon. And I think it’s almost inevitable. Anything we can do to combat that would be a good thing. There’s also a risk sometimes that in order to get your paper accepted, you’re maybe tempted to force it a little bit to fit the theme, when actually it might be clearer, and it might make for a more interesting paper, if you were to maintain the original focus.

7:07  JT

I don’t have a problem with workshops either. I think they’re a very positive idea. My question, though, would be, how does a workshop differ from a collection of individual papers that happen to group around the same topic? Workshops are in a way, rival topics to the main topic of the conference. That’s fair enough, I guess. Not everybody’s interested in the same thing. I don’t think it would be helpful to say that the only kind of research we can discuss is whatever is directly related to the theme for the current year. I wonder though, if we can make workshops more focused. This year, participants were able to choose from as many as six parallel sessions. In a way, that’s great, because it highlights the wealth of research being carried out in our field. And it offers a tremendous choice. It was for me, though, perhaps too much choice. I wonder if there was some things we could do to help ease the pressure on the schedule.

8:08  JT

At the business meeting, a number of questions were asked, one of which was whether delegates should be able to offer more than one paper. The majority felt that the answer to that should be “no”. And I would agree with that, too. I’m sure many of us could talk about half a dozen different things. But I would say “pick one, do it well, that’s enough”. It might be interesting to experiment with a different format for workshops. So rather than having a series of the standard 30 minute talks, maybe for workshops, we have contributions that are 20 minutes each. And rather than just have a collection of papers on roughly the same area, it might be interesting to have them address a more specific question, solve a problem or something like that. And then to have a decent amount of time at the end, to have a serious discussion of that problem. To come to some conclusions, however preliminary. Something useful that we could take away that would progress things in a very concrete way. Or maybe rather than than a series of presentations, we could have an expert panel discussing a topic with the help of a moderator. That, I think, would be something different and fresher.

9:23  JT

Another change that might be interesting is to extend this year’s experiment for 10 minute project presentations. I’d like to see much more of that. The saying goes that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I think there’s an element of that at conferences as well. When every slot that’s available is 30 minutes, if you want to talk about something, your talk will be 30 minutes. It’s fair, I give you that. But it may be that actually you could do very well with 10. That would be enough. You know, “Here, I made a thing. This might be interesting for you”. Or “I have an idea. What do you think about this?” 10 minutes is fine. You could still apply for a 30 minute slot if you need to develop an argument. But if we had something that was essentially short and simple, a 10 minute slot was enough, that option might be quite an attractive prospect. And coming back to the idea of conference fatigue, different formats, different styles might keep things fresher for the audience. And the variety of topic might be quite interesting as well. A kind of quick fire round of, here’s an interesting thing. You didn’t like that? Okay. Here’s another interesting thing. I think that will be worth exploring.

10:42  JT

Alright, enough of me already. Let’s hear what our guests had to say. We recorded this at the conference. So you’ll hear quite a bit of background noise. Apologies for that. I hope it’s not too distracting.

11:02  JT

I’m here with Gina Konstantopoulos, one of our guests from the earlier series. So, how’s it going, Gina? Since we last met, you’ve had a lot of changes. You have a new job.

11:11  GK

I do. I’m now the Assistant Professor in Assyriology and Cuneiform Studies at UCLA. So the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Sort of resident assyriologist in Los Angeles. No, that’s not true. Amanda Podany is also in LA. So I do have an assyriological friend.

11:27  JT

You’re not alone? Right. Well, first off, congratulations.

11:31  GK

Thank you.

11:32  JT

How do you fit within the system? What are they expecting from you? Have you been set goals? Do you get to set your own goals? Are you creating intercultural links? Or are you forging new digital futures? Or what is your task?

11:45  GK

So NELC, my department at UCLA, is very collaborative. So we have a lot of different centres and colleagues who work on different areas. My colleagues are here in Egyptology, as well as in ancient Iranian Studies, and in Biblical Studies, ancient Judaism. And we also have a quite robust …

12:05  JT

We’re about to be run over. Don’t worry.

12:07  GK

{LAUGHS} … a quite robust number of PhD programs. So a lot of what I do is, of course, contribute language instruction at the graduate level, particularly in Akkadian. Teach my students the joys of cuneiform. I think their official, unofficial motto for Akkadian class is “embrace chaos”.

12:24  JT

Excellent. {LAUGHS}

12:25  GK

Which I’m quite proud of. They seem to be enjoying the chaos.

12:29  JT

You’ve left your mark. I like that.

12:31  GK

And we do have actually one current assyriology PhD since I’ve started and another one starting, as well as a student who really wants to do Hebrew Bible and … and assyriology / ANE. So lots of Akkadian, lots of Sumerian teaching or starting Sumerian teaching. I do some very big undergraduate courses, including a new one I got to design and teach last year, and will teach again this year called “demons, fear, and the uncanny in the ancient world”, which has been a lot of fun for me, and hopefully for the students. And some upper division stuff on Mesopotamian literature, Mesopotamian religion. So anything Ancient Near East, it’s kind of what I’m working on. But for the grads, a lot of language, a lot of cuneiform, which is you know where the fun is.

13:17  JT

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can I ask what you think of the current Rencontre? It’s … where are we? … day two, already. Do you have a favourite paper? Have you seen a particularly good young scholar?

13:27  GK

So for me, it’s actually really interesting being back in Leiden, because the first Rencontre I went to was in Leiden. Which you may remember, because I was working at the British Museum that summer, and actually schlepped over from London. When working with you on the Ashurbanipal project, photographing hordes of tablets that summer. I really enjoyed being back in Leiden. It’s great to see everyone particularly after quote unquote, air quotes, not quite after, Covid. But feeling a bit more like we’re all back in-person. I’ve enjoyed the workshops a lot. But also the … the talks that have been on theme have been really interesting. So I think it’s a nice mix of workshops focused on more particular topics, but also really seeing the thread of this theme on inequality.

14:09  JT

Hmm, yes. Do you have thoughts on hybrid conferences? Do you like being in-person? Or do you dabble in Zoom, if you could?

14:18  GK

I mean, I think that there’s an enormous amount of importance for accessibility for hybrid conferences. And I’m glad that there’s a streaming option. I do think that a lot of the most … when I think on what I’ve really, in terms of my career, and also the social connections I’ve made, a lot of it happens informally in conferences. So that, unfortunately, is not something that I see any way to really replicate over Zoom. That is part of the conference experience, quote, unquote, that does, I think, to some degree, unless someone has a brilliant plan for how this would work hybrid, that requires being in-person. So I think my own preference–and I realise this comes from a position of privilege–is for an in-person environment. But I’m glad that at the least, the bare minimum, we’re able to stream the talk so that people who can’t be here can see them.

15:05  JT

Yeah. Yeah, I would agree with that myself, actually. So you haven’t given your paper yet, have you?

15:10  GK

No, I have not. It’s tomorrow.

15:12  JT

Could you give us a 30 second elevator pitch for what your talk is going to be?

15:18  GK

So I am talking about representations of age and maturity in Mesopotamian texts. Principally, what happens in terms of one’s social standing and agency when one gets older. You have this idea that the model of someone who is male by default in a patriarchal society–although we’ll talk about that a bit–and is moreover, able and martially bodied, can fight, is what grants you the most agency and social standing in Mesopotamia, at least as we see in texts. And when you age, inevitably you fall out of this category. And then what trade offs might you get? And then how this engages in particular for me with Gilgamesh. This has grown out of a paper I’m trying to write up on Gilgamesh and physical and emotional maturity, or in his case, sometimes lack thereof.

16:04  JT

Uh huh. Okay, excellent. Well, thank you very much.

16:15  JT

I’m catching up with Jana Matuszak. And she’s one of our earliest guests. A lot has happened. Where are you now?

16:23  JM

I’m now at the University of Chicago, where I’m Assistant Professor of Sumerology at what used to be the Oriental Institute, and has recently been renamed as the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, West Asia and North Africa.

16:37  JT

Ah-ha, well, first of all, congratulations.

16:39  JM

Thank you.

16:39  JT

So that’s an institute that has a long and proud history.

16:43  JM

It is a little daunting, but it’s also amazing. I’m in the office where Guterbock used to work and that’s pretty cool.{LAUGHS}

16:51  JT

Yeah, very nice. Have you been given a project to do or do you get to craft your own research?

16:58  JM

I’m pretty much my own boss, which I quite enjoy. So I proposed a project, which I actually already started when I was still at SOAS, and then continued doing at Tuebingen. And now will hopefully at some point finish at Chicago. {LAUGHS} Which is on Sumerian mock hymns. That’s the bigger project. But I haven’t been specifically tasked with anything. I can bring my own ideas and my own projects to the institute.

17:28  JT

So you’re not expected to start a 50 year project on a Sumerian dictionary, say?

17:31  JM

So um, I think I should get tenure first. But somewhere down the line, that would be the best place to do that.

17:38  JT


17:39  JM

It’s in the works.

17:40  JT

All right, excellent. Well, you heard it here first. They promise us a Sumerian dictionary. Alright. {LAUGHS}

17:46  JT

So what are you talking about at this Rencontre?

17:49  JM

I’m talking about a very tiny aspect of my current project. Because one of the Sumerian mock hymns, or the texts that I believe to be a Sumerian mock hymn, seems to be somewhat of a pastiche of different texts. And one of the source texts for the texts that I’m working on are Early Dynastic proverbs, which by the time this text is composed, are already about 800 years old. And completely obsolete. Nobody uses them anymore. They’re not part of the standard curriculum. And it very much looks like the scribes of the Old Babylonian period struggled to understand them. So what I’m interested in is engagements with the Sumerian legacy of the mid-third millennium in the early second millennium: how they tried to make sense of these old things; how they reinterpreted them; how they tried to keep them alive and meaningful. Possibly, and that’s what I’m going to argue my paper, by giving them new context and new meanings. And this happens by adding a pinch of misogyny.{LAUGHS}

18:54  JT

Oh dear. I’m not sure I want to ask any more questions. {LAUGHS}

18:58  JT

What is a mock hymn, by the way?

19:00  JM

That’s a really good question. My basic idea, to put it very simply, is that they are turning a song of praise into a song of abuse. So they’re using the format of hymns and certain structural and phraseological characteristics of what we commonly call hymns, which is usually a song of praising a goddess or perhaps a deified king, but turning it into the exact opposite: rather than listing positive attributes and characteristics; they’re heaping insults on the addressee. Listing only their most negative aspects and their worst deeds for obviously, moralising and didactic purposes. In the specific case of the text that I’m going to be talking about it’s … it’s more complex and problematic, because the addressee seems to be the goddess Inanna. And there’s at least one still unpublished manuscript from Sippar, that seems to lay that invective into the mouth of the scribal goddess, Nisaba. Which would probably make it slightly more acceptable to sing that type of abuse.{LAUGHS}

20:14  JT

Yeah, it’s a high-risk game, that one, isn’t it? Inanna is not the most mild-mannered deity.

20:21  JM

That’s true. On the other hand, she’s the one goddess that people feel free to insult. I mean, Gilgamesh does it very prominently. Yeah. So it’s a very difficult, but interesting text, I believe. Maybe at some point, I’ll be able to crack it.

20:34  JT

Alright. I can sort of see how, you know, if you think somebody’s a jerk, you might compose it something like that for them. But why would you learn something like that at school?

20:43  JM

That’s a really good question.

20:44  JT

Why would you train people to do that?

20:47  JM

Well, one idea is that parody or pastiche or the satirising texts have some sort of moral message that they convey. There are many hymns to Ishtar or Inanna, which praise her for things that mortal women weren’t exactly allowed to do. The whole kind of going after men and that sort of thing, and promiscuity, prostitution is something that the moralising texts from the Edubba’a condemn. It’s taboo for married women. Inanna isn’t quite the stereotypical married woman that they probably have in mind. The other aspect I was thinking–if you look at scribal education, the first literary texts that they learn, texts like the Tetrad, the Decad, most of them are hymns. And that’s the genre that is very much active and alive. They just keep composing hymns; keep praising kings, for instance. So to a certain extent, I could imagine that you can use pastiche and parody for training scribes how to write in a humorous way, because what they’re doing is emphasising certain characteristics of the text without naming them explicitly. But you can learn from the inversion of the expected ideal. That’s very much a very prominent feature of didactics in the Old Babylonian period. I could imagine that if you’ve been reading and copying that many Shulgi hymns, at some point … {LAUGHS} you might want to do something more fun.

22:30  JT

Oh dear.

22:30  JM

But surely, that’s not the full picture. There’ll be other aspects to this, which I will have to think about more, to be honest.

22:39  JT

Hmm, alright. So I guess thinking about these in terms of inculturation and training you in the proper way to be, do you think there’s an element where society is changing, and these guys are the conservative branch. They like the traditional ways, but they’re a bit scared of the change. And they try and make sure that the new crop are fighting back?

22:58  JM

Quite possibly. I mean, I personally when I read these texts that are associated with the Old Babylonian Edubba’a, even though we know it’s not really a school, it’s very much a private enterprise at this time, it strikes me as pretty elitist and exclusionary. And I think Niek Veldhuis has put it very well, saying that they’re really trained as being part of some … well, I think self-perceived elite. They’re not very nice to people who don’t belong to that in-group. They’re quite harsh about people at the lower end of the spectrum, poor people. There’s always this immediate threat that incompetence, laziness leads to a social kind of downfall. You’ll end up in the street, destitute and homeless and hungry. Like this is a fate that you deserve, if you don’t live up to the standards that they’re setting.

23:56  JT

Well, brilliant. Thank you. Before you go, one last question: do you have a favourite presentation so far? Is there a younger scholar who’s impressed you? Anything like that?

24:05  JM

Oh, several actually. I’ve just come out of the workshop on intertextuality. It’s something that really interests me. I was very pleased to see that Sophus Helle, for instance, has a very similar idea to mine. {LAUGHS} Just working on different texts. I also really liked Beatrice Baragli’s paper on linguistic diversity in ritual texts and incantations, where she’s developed a model of which language in the first millennium ritual context is appropriate for what context; where you use Emesal; where you use Sumerian; and where it’s appropriate to use Akkadian. It’s good that more attention is now being paid to late Sumerian, which hasn’t received that much attention, especially because so many texts that are bilingual and people translate the Akkadian, which they understand, and assume that the Sumerian says something like that. {LAUGHS}  I think that proves to be quite exciting.

25:03  JT

Brilliant. Thanks very much.

25:14  JT

I’m catching up with Saana Svaerd. When you appeared on the podcast, you were talking about digital assyriology. But one of your other main areas of research interest is gender in antiquity. And you were giving a keynote at this Rencontre on that topic. So could you say something about that please?

25:30  SS

Yeah, sure, happy to. Well, the topic that they gave me was gender equality or gender inequality in the ancient Near East. And basically, there are the two points, or the two topics that I discussed in my keynote is, first of all, what do we know about gender inequality in the ancient Near East? And actually, very little work has been done on that in assyriology. And mostly, the work that has been carried out has been done in history and anthropology and to some degree in archaeology as well.

25:58  JT

Is it that there isn’t much there to find or have we just not looked yet?

26:01  SS

I think it’s a question of priorities, because in most adjacent fields, questions of equality and terms like patriarchy and matriarchy, they were thrown around and discussed in like 1970s. And at that time, in assyriology, the field was just not interested in gender studies or equality studies. And then by the time we sort of caught up, so late 1980s, 1990s, when more people started to be more interested in women’s history or gender history, then other fields had kind of moved on to more postmodern approaches. So in a way, I think that assyriology skipped … {LAUGHS} skipped that phase of research. But I do think it’s super interesting to study gendered power relations. Like I’m … it’s not really useful, not really fruitful to use terms like patriarchy, or matriarchy. And equality sort of on the fence. That’s pretty anachronistic as well. But at the end of the day, I think what we should be discussing are gendered power differences in Mesopotamia. And I think that would be a fruitful research topic today.

27:08  JT

Okay, thank you. Yeah, sorry, I interrupted. Do you remember where you were going?

27:11  SS

Oh, yeah. Yeah. So the second part of my talk focused on the question, why do we care? So why do we care about gender inequality in ancient Near East? Because it’s not a topic that was really bothering the ancient Mesopotamian scribes. Or at least we don’t really have traces of that, or very, very little. And I think that the main reason why it’s an interesting research topic, is that it has implications for the modern world. We are interested in equality in ancient times, because we are interested in equality in modern times. And I think in those terms, it’s a really fruitful research field, because it can have or it does have social impact. It impacts the world around us today. Even if the topic is ancient.

27:57  JT

Yeah. That’s quite important. We do need to have a convincing answer for “why do we need assyriology?” don’t we?

28:02  SS

Yes. And I think in general, and not just gender equality, but in general, if researchers are more aware of the kind of impact that their research can have in modern world, it will increase the importance of assyriology and importance of historical studies, I think, in general.

28:21  JT

Yeah. And the other aspect of modern impact you were talking about was gender equality in the modern world, in among the research community. I wonder if you could say a few words on that part of your talk? {LAUGHS}

28:33  SS

{LAUGHS} It’s a bit of a delicate issue. But yeah, for the … for the talk, I dug up some interesting membership statistics, from the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as from International Association for Assyriology. And particularly, the SBL data shows that there’s a clear over-representation of male scholars in the field in general, but also, which is kind of strange. But it’s a well-known phenomenon from other fields as well. There’s a clear tendency that professorships and other sort of high-level permanent university positions have over-representation of male scholars. So, in Finland, the phenomenon is well-known from universities, where for more than two decades, most of PhD students have been female. But still in 2023, only 33% of professors are female. There is something there.

29:31  JT

There’s a blockage somewhere in the system, isn’t there?

29:33  SS

Yeah, it seems so.

29:35  JT

They are very complex issues, aren’t they? We’re probably not going to solve them by ourselves. Are there things that can be done relatively simply to play our part in this?

29:44  SS

Yeah, that’s a good question. And there are indeed, there’s no easy fixes, unfortunately. But I do think there are things that everybody can do in their own work community, to support women’s research careers. Just simple things like making sure that communication works. Maybe not scheduling meetings at 6pm. Because often one of the big blockages is the problem of how to fit together a research career and a family. And it is more complicated for women, still in 2023. And I think just you know, generally being aware; being aware of the possibility that there might be bias {LAUGHS} and thinking about it a little bit.

30:31  JT

Yeah. Okay, so I wonder if we can move on to your second role here. In that, this time next year, the Rencontre will be in Helsinki, and you will be organising this. So I was wondering, you know, having seen how it’s gone this year, are there things that you want to carry across? Are the things that haven’t been done here that you might like to try? And you know, lingering in the background there is this great reputation that, you know, the last Rencontre in Helsinki had, how much fun that was, and this sort of brings a lot of pressure with it. How are you going to cope? What are you going to do? What can we expect from next year’s Rencontre?

31:06  SS

Yeah, well, everywhere I go people you know, start the discussion, that “Oh, my god, yes, the 2001 Helsinki Rencontre was amazing!” So yes, there is a lot of pressure. But we’re not going to even try and replicate that. But we will do our best to make it interesting and fun, as well as academically relevant. And we have a great team in Helsinki. And so I’m … I have a good feeling about this. Oh, yeah. What do I want to carry over from like, what have I learned in Leiden?

31:34  JT


31:35  SS

The team in Leiden has been amazing. Like all the practical arrangements, and information flow, and helpfulness of the conference assistants. It’s top notch. So I can only hope that we can follow that in Helsinki as well. I have to talk to Caroline Waerzeggers and ask her “how did you do this?” {LAUGHS}

31:55  JT

{LAUGHS}  Ah, the secret sauce. Alright. And can you tell us the topic?

32:00  SS

Yeah, sure. Helsinki Rencontre is taking place next July–8th to 12th of July. And the topic will be politics, peoples and polities in the ancient Near East. And we’re very much looking forward to welcoming everybody in Helsinki.

32:18  JT

Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to it myself. See you there. Thank you.

32:21  SS

See you there.

32:23  JT

Well, I hope you enjoyed catching up with our three guests. I had hoped to have a few others as well. Each year the IAA hands out prizes. I’d hoped to bring you also a few words from this year’s prize winners too. I didn’t quite manage that. But you may hear from them soon, hopefully. Over the next few months, you can expect a few changes here. I hope to be joined by my first guest co-host and I’m trying to add a new format to the mix too. I want to arrange some episodes where two or more guests discuss a topic from different perspectives. A kind of healthy disagreement. You might also notice a few other little changes here and there. I hope you like them.

33:06  JT

I’d also like to thank our patrons: Tyler Russell, Enrique Jimenez, Jana Matuszak, Nancy Highcock, Jay C, Rune Rattenborg, Woodthrush, Elisa Rossberger, Mark Weeden, Jordi Mon Companys, Thomas Bolin, Joan Porter MacIver, John MacGinnis, Andrew George, Yelena Rakic, Mend Mariwany, Zach Rubin, Sabina Franke, Shai Gordin, Aaron Macks, Maarja Seire, Jaafar Jotheri, Morgan Hite, Chikako Watanabe, Mark McElwaine, Heather Baker, Jonathan Blanchard Smith, Kliment Ohr, Christina Tsouparopoulou, TT, Melanie Gross, Claire Weir, Marc Veldman, Bruno Biermann, Faimon Roberts, Jason Moser, Pavla Rosenstein, Müge Durusu-Tanrıöver, Tate Paulette, Willis Monroe, Toby Wickenden, as well as those who prefer to remain anonymous.

34:18  JT

I really appreciate your support. It makes a big difference. Every penny received has contributed towards translations. Thanks of course to the lovely people who have worked on the translations on a voluntary basis or for well below the market rate. For Arabic, thanks in particular to Zainab Mizyidawi, as well as Lina Meerchyad and May Al-Aseel. For Turkish, thank you to Pinar Durgun and Nesrin Akan. TEW is still young, but I want to reach a sustainable level, where translators are given proper compensation for their hard work.

34:56  JT

And thank you for listening to Thin End of the Wedge. If you enjoy what we do, and you would like to help make these podcasts available in Middle Eastern languages, please consider joining our Patreon family. You can find us at patreon.com/wedgepod. You can also support us in other ways: simply subscribe to the podcast; leave us a five star review on Apple Music or your favourite podcatcher; recommend us to your friends; follow us on Twitter: @wedge_pod. If you want the latest podcast news, you can sign up for our newsletter. You can find all the links in the show notes and on our website at wedgepod.org. Thanks, and I hope you’ll join us next time.