Friday, September 30, 2005

London Link

I have added a new link to my blogroll. Lonely Londoner is the blog of an expat Ph.D. student in London. I am quite sure her experiences have been radically different then mine were. Nevertheless, I like to keep up on the university scene in London.

Mr. Toad

For the last three nights a rather large toad, about the size of a dinner plate, has taken to hanging outside the door to the kitchen. He appears to be there to eat bugs attracted to the light. He also keeps trying to sneak into the laundry room. Tonight he tried to hide behind the gun safe. After being expelled from the room he hopped up the outside stairs to some other location.

Quotation of the Day

The following quotation is from Akhmed Bairakhtov, a Meskhetian Turk veteran who fought in the Soviet army against Nazi Germany. In November 1944, while he was fighting against the Germans, the Stalin regime deported his family along with the rest of the Meskhetian Turk population to Kazakhstan and Central Asia. The quotation is from The Forced Migration Projects of the Open Society Institute, Meskhetian Turks: Solutions and Human Security (NY: The Open Society Institute, 1998), p. 5.

Along with a small group of demobilized Meskhetian Turk soldiers, I went to search for my family in Central Asia. We had no addresses, nothing. In December of 1945, I finally located my mother in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She told me that my sister was living in Samarkand...I remember conditions during the first year in Uzbekistan were dire. There was nothing to eat. People were forced to eat cattle fodder in order to survive.


I got most of the office cleaned up today. I still need to reassemble a pdf file on the GULag I printed out and forgot to put a paper weight on top of. But, I tossed all the excess papers strewn about by the wind. I am going to organize the papers either tonight or tommorrow.

I got the first job application put together to send out. I will be doing at least one a day until the small pile is finished. Again thanks to everybody who gave me advice on the cover letter. I found the advice of New Kid on the Hall, Artichoke Heart and Miriam to be the most useful. I tried to show that I had a thought out plan of how I would teach even if it had never been put into practice. This first application asked for sample syllabi, so I think I have a shot at convincing them to give me an interview. If it works great. If it does not then I have resolved not to be bitter about it. All that does is make me unpleasant to myself and others. I am resolving once again to maintain a positive attitude. What I do need to do is find some sort of alternative career, however, in the event that none of my academic job applications pan out this year. I am not sure where to look in this regards. I will be asking around at the cotton conference in London which will have a number of non-academic participants.

Sometimes I just have to look back on the last five years of life and remember that compared to a lot of my recent past now is a really good time. I am way past the nadirs of my life. My prayers go out to those people still stuck in their nadirs.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Currently, Catherine's Grandchildren has been on another short hiatus. My plans for the rest of this week and next week are to get all my job applications out of the way.Then I will come back and finish the two remaining encyclopedia articles on modern slavery in Russia (1000 words) and Beria (500 words). They are due October 15th. I do not have any other deadlines set by contract.

But, first I think I am going to clean up my office so I can find stuff. I have been making some progress in the last two days. I need to make sure and weight down all the papers I have out so that the wind does not disperse them across the office. That will prevent the mess from arising in the first place.

Quotation of the day

The following quotation comes from the journal of the famous Russian-German autonomy activist, Dominik Hollmann. He wrote it in 1942 while serving in a labor army work site in Kirov devoted to felling timber. An English translation of the excerpt is reproduced in his daughter's memoirs, Ida Bender, trans. Laurel Anderson, Carl Anderson and William Wiest, The Dark Abyss of Exile: The Story of Survival (Fargo, ND: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, 2000), p.101.

Every morning some of the men reported sick with diarrhea, caused by bad food and unsanitary conditions. Many had scurvy from lack of vegetables, legs swollen, entire body covered with sores. Many were weak and wasting away from starvation and disease. Men who previously had weighed eighty or ninety kilograms were down to forty or forty-five.

Weekly Reminder (Diaspora Carnival)

This is a reminder that I will be doing another Carnival of Diasporas on the 25th of October. I thought the best two entries of the last carnival were the ones on the Tongans by Jonathan Edlestein and the one on the Chagossians (Ilois) by Rich Hindes. Due to problems arising from the last carnival I will not be able to accept any posts on the Armenian diaspora for this or any future carnivals. I have for similar reasons removed the two Armenian related blogs from my blog roll. As an anti-troll measure, no future mentions of Armenia or Armenians will be allowed on this blog. If you have any diaspora related posts regarding other ethnic groups please send them to me. I am especially interested in posts on obscure diasporas such as those submitted by Edelstein and Hindes. My email is pohlcat [the at sign] rocketmail [the dot] com.

Finally finished the cover letter

I finally finished writing a new cover letter today. I did my best on the teaching paragraph. Left on my own I do not think I would have ever thought to tackle the issue. So I want to give a great big thanks to Dr. Camicao for all his help. Looking back over my blog he has left a lot of helpful tips and encouraged others to do so as well. If you are ever in the Gadsen Purchase area stop by Arivaca for shish tavuk and narghile.

I also got some of the clutter in my office cleaned up. In the next couple of days I will finish cleaning it up. Next week I will be sending out another load of job applications. They might not get me a position, but at least they will have a better chance then those with my previous cover letter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I have an interest in forced migrations and the resulting victim diasporas. In particular I find the question of why different displaced groups had different levels of cultural retention and political mobilization to be engrossing. Most of my research in this area has been on the deported peoples of the Soviet Union.

Since moving to Arizona, however, I have been trying to read up on the history of the region. In particular I have found the history of the Navajo or as they call themselves Dineh to be fascinating. In 1864, the US military deported most of the Navajo population from their homeland to Bosque Redondo. The Navajos refer to this ethnic cleansing as the "Long Walk." More than 9,000 Navajos found themselves confined to the Bosque Redondo reservation. Poor living conditions here resulted in over 2,000 Navajo deaths. In 1868, the US government allowed the survivors to return to the Dinehtah (land of the Navajos). This part of their history is quite similar to that of some of the deported Soviet nationalities such as the Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Balkars and Kalmyks.

Despite the trauma of the "Long Walk" and their exile at Bosque Redondo, the Navajos have done a better job at retaining their language and way of life than almost any other Native American nation. I am interested in the factors that account for the differences in cultural retention between the Navajos and other native nations. Such a comparison represents an interesting parallel to my own work on deported nationalities in the USSR. I have just started reading about the complex history and culture of the Navajos, so I do not know what I will find regarding these matters.

Quotation of the Day

The following quotation comes from Tenzile Ibraimova, a Crimean Tatar woman who survived deportation to Uzbekistan and the harsh conditions of the special settlement regime. The testimony appeared in the Crimean Tatar Appeal to the 23rd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1966. This English language excerpt is taken from Amnesty International, trans., Chronicle of Current Events, no. 31, 17 May 1974 (London: Amnesty International Publications, 1975), pp. 140-141.

We were expelled from the village of Adzhiatmak in Fraidorf district on 18 May 1944. The expulsion took place very cruelly; at three o'clock in the morning, when the children were still asleep. Some soldiers came in and said that we should get ready and be out of the house in five minutes. We were not allowed to take with us either possessions or food. They treated us so roughly that we thought they were taking us to be shot...My husband was fighting at the front; I was alone with three children.

Comments Policy Reminder

Just to remind everybody that I have a strict civility policy in my comments sections. Personal attacks on myself and others will be deleted in the future.

Tommorrow will be better

Today was not a productive day. One of the many problems of being unemployed for an extended period of time is finding the motivation to do anything at all. No matter how much work I do in a day I will still be just as poor at the end of the month. I am usually pretty good at forcing myself to get stuff done for its own sake. The knowledge that if I do not write about things like Stalin's deportations that nobody else will keeps me from giving up completely. It seems like a moral obligation to counter the likes of Mark Tauger or just simple ignorance. I was kind of surprised last month when I discovered how few people knew about Stalin's ethnic cleansing of the Kalmyks. The total lack of any material incentives that comes with chronic unemployment, however, militates against doing anything at all. After all in such situations time is a limitless commodity. Things can always be done tommorrow and the economic consequences are exactly the same, nada. Today I never got my brain to get out of "manana" mode. Tommorrow I need to remind myself of the various non-material benefits being productive will bring me. I hate losing days because I did not have the discipline to work without financial compensation. By the way for any academics who hate their jobs I am willing to do all your work for $20,000 a year. Which by my standards is an incredible fortune. You can keep the remainder of your salary and all the benefits.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Praying Mantis moth buffet

One of the windows to my office currently has twelve praying mantises feasting off of moths. I have been watching the big green insects, they average about five inches in length, since they started appearing a couple weeks ago. They are pretty clumsy. It takes them alot of attempts to actually nab a moth and often even then the moths can escape. They crawl along the window screens chasing after the moths and repeatedly grab at them until they get one. Even so they definitely eat more moths, one of Arivaca Man's worst foes, than most other allied creatures. I have not seen Blaster eat a single moth since I got here.

Rhetorical Question

No US university would tolerate Holocaust deniers teaching in their ranks. Why then are minimizers, justifiers and defenders of Stalin's crimes such as Mark Tauger, Associate Professor of History at West Virginia University allowed tenure? The fact that Professor Tauger is employed to teach Soviet history baffles my mind. It is the moral equivalent of hiring David Irving to teach the history of the Holocaust. For a rather lengthy and detailed discussion of Professor Tauger's revisionism regarding the Holodomor (the man made famine in Ukraine during 1932-1933) go here and note that he uses the same tactics as Holocaust deniers. The critiques of Tauger by the late Professor Mace and other anti-Stalinist academics are especially insightful. Currently on H-Russia, Professor Tauger is seeking to justify and minimize other Soviet crimes. Far more so than Ward Churchill, Professor Tauger is a man undeserving of tenure.

Arivaca fashion

My uncle got me one of those cheap Mexican cowboy hats today. Next, for the complete Arivaca look, I need a tie dye shirt. I already have the mountain man beard going. I still don't have cowboy boots, however. I will get those after I get some tie dyes. Very soon I will have gone completely native.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Contemplating next week's great job search

Well last week I finished another encyclopedia article. I will type up the last few corrections tommorrow and e-mail it to the editor. Then I only have two left to write. These encyclopedia articles basically write themselves. Maybe I should look for some more after I am done with this batch.

The real task next week is to start sending out job applications again. I still need to finish the cover letter. I feel like I am just fumbling in the dark with regards to academic applications. For years everything I read and heard said what counted for academic hiring was publishing. It turns out that is not true. Evidently, teaching is considered much more important than any amount of research and publishing in the humanities. So far the number of applications is limited so it should not be too difficult to get them out of the way once I get the new cover letter written. Since I can not magically add any teaching experience I doubt it will do me much good. I did, however, recently find another journal article citing me to add to my ever expanding list. Evidently being cited does not count in job searches either. How a stupid TAship can trump two books I don't know. No wonder kids graduate from college in the US without knowing what years the Civil War was fought.

So rather than waste too much more time and effort on trying to get an entry level instructorship I think I am going to look outside of academia. I figure I could live in even a relatively expensive area like DC for $20,000 a year. Unfortunately, this is considerably more than minimum wage which is what most jobs I am qualifed for pay. Maybe Frank and I should go into business together as pimps in Hoboken. I would look good in pimp gear.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quotation of the day

The following quotation is from Raisa Mikhailovna, a representative from a mine in Kyrgyzstan sent to a train station to collect Meskhetian Turk deportees as laborers. Her impression of the arriving special settlers as they exited the deportation trains is quoted in D. Sh. Kyzaeva, T.D. Dotsenko and S.I. Begaliev, eds., Arkhivnye dokumenty svidetelt'stvuiut: Deportirovannye narody v Krygyzstane (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Firma "Aibek", 1995), p. 22. The translation from Russian to English is my own.

When the doors of the wagons opened - the impression was one of horror: on the ground was strewn a huge pile of filth - excrement, etc. From the wagons came people: emaciated and exhausted. Out walked the sick and dying. Among the arriving people were those in military uniform: enlisted, officers and those with combat medals.

More on Toads

The toads have gotten quite big now. Some are about the size of a child's hand. They come out at night and hop into any illuminated area. This means the kitchen as I prepare dinner. Everytime I walk back into the house from checking on the chicken on the outdoor grill toads attempt to gain entry to the kitchen. They have gotten quite aggressive. Usually at least one mananges to hop past the threshold into the house. I have taken to sweeping them back outside with a broom. Even though toads are creatures allied with man they are not allowed into the house.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Carnival of Diasporas II

I am going to try and do another Carnival of Diasporas. I am setting the date for October 25th. I am going to also be posting a weekly reminder between now and then. So if you see any good blog posts on diasporas or have one yourself please e-mail them to me. Again my e-mail is pohlcat [the at sign] rocketmail [the dot] com. Also if anybody would like to host a Carnival of Diapsoras in the future let me know and I will gladly give you a franchise.

Quotation of the day

The following quotation is from a telegram sent to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin by Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion on 4 November 1948. An English language version of the telegram is reproduced in Eytan Bentsur, ed., Documents on Israeli-Soviet Relations, 1941-1953 (London: Frank and Cass, 2000), vol. 1, doc. 192, p. 395. It is from that period of time when Israel was dependent upon military and diplomatic support from the Soviet bloc to expel the Palestinians from their homeland. Despite a lot of later historical revisionism, the founding of Israel was a left-wing socialist cause heavily backed by the USSR under Stalin and the world's various communist parties. I will let the quotation stand without further comment.

In the name of the State of Israel and in my own name I am pleased to offer best wishes on the occasion of the anniversary of the October Revolution which guaranteed national equality to the peoples of the USSR, secured employment and a means of existence for all its workers, opened the path to social and spiritual progress for the urban and rural masses and gave birth to the powerful Red Army which achieved an immense feat in the war against the fascist Nazi threat. Our people will never forget the assistance rendered by the struggle for liberty and independence in its historic homeland. I wish the people of your country fulfillment, reconstruction in the wake of the war, economic progress, peace and international understanding.

Better Grilling everyday

Today I did tradtional style hot wings using the old Anchor Bar recipe. They turned out fantastic. I mixed melted butter with Lousiana hot sauce and then put it on the wings while they were grilling. My uncle thinks it is the best thing I have ever cooked. They were undoubtedly the best wings I have eaten.


The last post was mistaken, John Ruberry my one new commentor yesterday does not call for the dismissal of Professor Finkelstein. Instead his blog links to a lot of articles calling Finkelstein an "anti-semite" and a "Holocaust Denier." Now given that Finkelstein is Jewish and the son of two Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps these are strange allegations. But, if one believed they were true they would certainly be grounds for calling for the dismissal of a university professor. Thus I wrongly assumed that the point of such links was to argue that Finkelstein was unfit to teach at DePaul and should be fired. Ruberry informs me this is not the case.

It is now Lurker Week

Well my delurking post got no comments yesterday. I did get one new commentor on my academic black list post. I am not sure if he was actually a lurker or did a search looking for posts mentioning Norman Finkelstein. His blog shows that he is part of some sort of campaign to get Professor Finkelstein fired from De Paul. At anyrate despite my low expectations I was hoping I had more than one lurker reading this blog without my knowledge. So I am expanding Lurker day to Lurker week. Yes, a whole week to delurk and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Quotation of the Day

This quotation comes from Elfriede and Johannes H. Warkentin, "Editha" in Nelly Das, ed., trans. Nancy Bernhardt Holland, Gone Without a Trace: German-Russian Women in Exile (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 2001), p. 104. It is in reference to the Russian-German women who perished in the labor army during World War II.

But what about the thousands of women who died there, the martyrs, our mothers? They lie in mass graves - nameless, interred without a burial mound, without even a wooden cross as a marker to their memories. Were they ever really alive?

Again, I do not have anything to add to this quotation right now. I think it stands well on its own. I also think that this total obliteration of even memory is one of the things that makes Stalin orders of magnitude more evil than Hitler.

More on the Blasterino

I am by upbringing a cat person, not a dog person. So I have not had a lot of exposure to canines. Nevertheless, I don't think Blaster is typical. In addition to his ball obsession he also patiently waits at your feet at breakfest for bread crusts. Is this a traditional dog food, the burnt corners of toast? He catches them in the air and then his eyes bulge out as he swallows them. He will also lick your feet if you are not careful, yuck. No the dog unlike the spiders, toads, geckos, praying mantineses and other creatures allied to man is an enigma. I don't care about understanding the enemy fauna like ants, moths and other insects. They are just vermin to be exterminated.

Quotation of the day

A couple of times I have started off posts with quotations. I very frequently do it with academic papers. Recently, I have been moving in the direction of using Bibical quotations. Both the papers for Canada and Boston will have scriptural quotations leading them off provided the abstracts are accepted. At anyrate I have some interesting non-religious quotations that I have wanted to blog about, but really haven't been able to come up with any text to accompany them. So I am just going to post them free standing. The first one is below. It is from the Prince of Rai, Cheb Mami. It is a lyric from the song Parisien du Nord. It sounds better sung in Arabic, but you can get the gist here.

You hated me because of my looks and told me I was a "stranger"
And I had thought I was in my own country, that I could die here
That's how you deceived me

The song is about racism in France against Algerian immigrants. Just so you know the context. I will be putting up new unrelated quotations on a daily basis.

Inch by inch

Today I got most of a rough draft of the encyclopedia article on Ukraine done. I will finish it tommorrow. It is kind of a mirror image of the one I wrote on Central Asia. Ukraine exported forced laborers to other parts of the USSR and Central Asia imported them. I also made a serious stab at writing the teaching paragraph in my cover letter. I am going to let the draft I wrote today sit until tommorrow and then look at it again. I will probably start sending out applications again next week.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Blessed are the Delurkers

Evidently today is Lurker day. Or at least that is what all the popular blogs claim. Since I have no site meter I have no idea if I have any lurkers. But, I suspect that I do based upon recent events. In this last week I have received a number of e-mails and comments posted to this blog from various new people. So if you have been reading this blog at all and have never alerted me to the fact that you exist now is your chance. While criticism is welcome I do have a strict policy of civility in my comments sections.


My uncle's dog, Blaster, spends alot of time up here in my office under the false assumption that if he waits long enough I will go play ball with him. In the meantime he has completely chewed through the tennis ball he has stored up here awaiting for me to stop writing and go play catch. About half the ball has been eaten away now. I think the dog may have some sort of neurosis regarding balls. Is this normal for dogs? Maybe it is a Corgi thing? At anyrate I find his behavior to be bizzarre.

Sweet and sour and spicy prickly pear sauce rocks

Tonight I mixed the prickly pear glaze with Louisiana hot sauce to put on the grilled chicken. It was soooo good. The vinegar from the hot sauce combined with the sweet of prickly pear syrup to make a sweet and sour flavour. Kick in the heat from the chilis and you got a very tasty thing going on. It has kind of a Szechwan feel. Just one of the many great culinary delights of the Sonoran desert. If only I can think of something to do with all those little toads hopping around.

Things I did today

I found another four jobs to apply to today. So I started tackling the cover letter in a serious manner. I have more on it in the post down below. I did not make any progress on how to address my lack of teaching experience. The only possible way out of this catch-22 I can see is if I get a post-doc which has a teaching component. I found one today, but I suspect the ideological black list problem even greater with these positions. My understanding is that the selection of post-docs is even more subjective than assistant professors.

I finally got some work done on one of the encyclopedia articles. I wrote half of the article on Ukraine. I will finish it up in the next couple of days and e-mail it to the editor. After that I will have two left to write. These short general articles are pretty easy to write.

I wrote up to page 70 in Catherine's Grandchildren. Although for a while I thought I was not going to be able to get the file open on my other lap top. That would have meant the loss of 13 pages of text, a week's worth of pretending to work. Fortunately, I did get it to open and did save it to a floppy disk. I think I am also going to load it onto this laptop and save a copy in my e-mail. I hate it when technology conspires against me. Like academia I have no understanding how it works so I am completely at its mercy.

What I did write today on Catherine's Grandchildren, however, was quite interesting. The Volga German ASSR had its own limited foreign policy. Part of this consisted of economic and cultural exchanges with Weimar Germany. But, a more interesting part was its active encouragement of recent emigrants to return. In a strange replay of Catherine II's original recruitment of German settlers to the Volga, the Volga German ASSR offerred free land to returning emigres. They also had agents in Germany and the US working on persuading recent refugees to return just as the Russian Empire had touts in Central Europe. It does not appear that they persuaded many people to return. Russian-German migration out of the USSR greatly exceeded return migration during the 1920s. Still it is a fascinating little episode. One of the few cases in which a national territory in the USSR received permission from Moscow to conduct its own foreign operations.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Black lists in Academia

This morning I started seriously reconstructing my cover letter. I have been attempting to follow the advice I got from fellow bloggers. Two of their suggestions were to describe my arguments and how they were different than that of potential competitors and to write about future writing projects. I think this poses a problem given the ideological composition of most US academia.

The approach of my Ph.D. dissertation was comparative. I tried to show how Soviet policies towards the Russian-Germans, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks resembled other cases of ethnic cleansing and racial exclusion throughout history. One of my outside comparisons I used alot in my dissertation and one that fits the region into the Greater Middle East is with the Palestinians. It works well for two reasons. First, the founders of Israel started citing the Soviet deportations as precendents to follow regarding the Palestinians as early as 1943. Second, both the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks compared themselves to the Palestinians in the 1970s. Although the cases have a number of differences, the similarities were pretty significant both on the perpetrator and victim sides. Prehaps even more interesting is given the great number of similarities how does one account for the differences that did exist.

My dissertation tackled the above question with regards to the Crimean Tatars, Meskhetian Turks and Russian-Germans. But, the comparison can be extended to other areas of the Greater Middle East outside Kazakhstan and Central Asia. At SOAS a number of people encouraged me in this direction. In particular they inspired me to look at the connections, similarities and differences between the Soviet and Palestinian cases. I outlined the core ideas of this comparative study in a paper I presented at a conference at Lebanese American University in Beirut in May 2004. It got a good reception there. I later extended it and edited it for publication as a journal article. Human Rights Review accepted it and gave a publication date of May 2006. Unfortunately, the editorial staff of the journal was based at Loyola University in New Orleans. So I have no idea what the current situation is regarding their publication. I think that this direction of research in terms of topic, method and conclusions is pretty unique.

I am also quite aware that such a direction of research both in terms of topic and conclusion is not very popular among American academics for purely idelogical reasons. In countries like the UK and Lebanon where there is not an ideological political correctness prevading the university one can rationally discuss such things. But, for US applications I am afraid if I do mention exactly what makes my arguments unique and how I would like to pursue them in the future that it puts me on an automatic black list. Or as my father likes to say, "in Finkelstein's basement" in reference to Professor Norman Finkelstein who lost his job at Hunter College for criticizing Israel. I have one personal anecdote on this. I initially submitted the abstract for the paper I gave in Beirut for a Graduate Student conference in Pittsburgh along with my CV. It is the only conference from which I have ever had an abstract rejected. I do not know exactly why it was rejected, but I can guess. My inclination is to just be honest and go with it. But, I am thinking that it might not be the best way to get a job in the US given the increasingly crowded space in Finkelstein's basement.

Does anybody have any thoughts about this? How prevelant are idelogical black lists in academia? Is it possible to avoid the intersecting sets of black lists that would seek to prevent the type of research I detailed in this post? Or given other reasons not to hire me such as no teaching experience does it even matter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Another international link

As I mentioned below I got a comment from a woman in Estonia this morning. She has kindly linked to this blog. So in keeping with my policy of reprocity I am returning the favor. Kristin or KIT has an interesting blog called Big Brave Cohones that is quite different from most of the blogs in my blogroll. She also has a blog in Estonian, but my grasp of non-Indo-European languages is complete rubbish. My blogroll is now up to 16.

The controversial Dr. Akiner

Shirin Akiner was my supervisor for my MA at SOAS. I took her class on Central Asia in 2001-2002. Although I do not agree with her on everything I do think she is a first class scholar and honest person. I am a historian and I think it takes about fifty years to get enough perspective to truly try and understand events. So I am not going to comment on either her 13 May 2005 report on the massacre in Andijan or the coverage of her 14 September 2005 talk in DC. I will just note that I think speculation regarding her integrity is beyond the pale. Nathan Hamm's Registan website has a pretty detailed discussion on both Dr. Akiner's report and recent talk.

Interesting Comments

Today I have gotten comments on a number of posts from quite interesting people. I encourage comments. But, I have one small favor to ask. Try and comment on posts that are still on the front page. I get an e-mail telling me when and where the posts are made. However, other people can not read them if they are buried in the archives. Also while the Mini Carnival Diaspora post is still on the front page, its comment thread is getting long. There are other posts related to it that have more space.

Now that the housecleaning aspects are out of the way, I have some specific notes on the comments. I fear that due to my poor technical skills which caused me to rewrite the original Mini Carnival of Diasporas post several times I may have caused offense to Onnik Krikorian. If this is the case I am sorry. In a spirit of good will I would like to offer him space here on my blog if he so desires to make his case clearer than my bumblings have made it. All he has to do is e-mail what he would like published and I will post it verbatium as its own post. My e-mail again is pohlcat [the at sign] rocketmail [the dot] com. I hope that if he takes advantage of this opportunity that it will clear up any misunderstandings.

Thanks to Kristin for the message from Estonia. Also thanks on letting me know about the link from the Baltic Blog. Please feel free to spread my blog to both Estonians and Arizonians. Next time you are in Tucson feel free to come down to Arivaca and visit. We are only an hour drive south. If you can pack some Estonian chocolate on ice. Otherwise it will melt. Estonia has my favorite chocolate in the world.

I am a Visionary

You Are a Visionary Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connect to your soul.
You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

You have great vision and can be very insightful.
In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

New Links

All right I am a bit behind schedule. I did not get around to making this update during the weekend like I said I would. But, I have finished it now. I have added four new links to my blogroll. Jonathan Edelstein's Head Heeb blog always has informative posts and focuses on Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East. Rich Hindes at The Disillusioned Kid frequently has good posts on Uzbekistan. In fact he organized the Blog for Uzbekistan event of 1 September 2005. Also check out his posts on Chagossians. Katy Pearce, a postgraduate student at SOAS has a blog specializing in Armenia and the Armenian diaspora at Blogrel. Finally, Onnik Krikorian at One World Multimedia out of Yerevan has a blog dealing with the same subjects. These additions grew out of my little Carnival of Diasporas.

My blogroll currently stands at 15 links. In terms of geographical location they are quite diverse. They are distributed in the following manner: US 6, UK 4, Canada 1, Indonesia 1, Taiwan 1, New Zealand 1, Armenia 1. If you want to be added let me know and I will make it happen.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Room for improvement

Yesterday was my 35th brithday. Granted, the first 35 years of my life was not nearly as productive as it should have been. So I am probably about a decade behind where I should be. But, I hope to make up for my relative lack of output in the next 35. I am going to start with this week. As soon as the coffee starts working I intend to start doing some serious writing. This week I am going to at least start another of the encyclopedia articles. I have been thinking about doing the one on Ukraine. I was outlining it in my head earlier this morning. I think I can get it done before the end of the week.

I also will get back to work on Catherine's Grandchildren. I am up to 68 pages. I last wrote some about the Molochanskie colonies during the 1920s. Mennonite settlers founded these colonies. Although I include them as Germans, the Mennonites are really a distinct ethno-confessional subgroup. In fact a lot of Mennonites were not of German descent at all. Rather the first ones were Dutch who became Germanized in terms of switching from Dutch to Plattdeutsch as their primary language. Plattdeutsch is closer to Dutch than Hochdeutsch anyways. Other Mennonites were converted Poles who became Germanized. Hence the existence of common Mennonite names like Sawatsky. The Molochanskie-Prishib German national autonomous raion was the largest autonomous German administrative territory in the USSR outside the Volga German ASSR.

The other tasks for this week are not so easy as writing books. I need to seriously think about my job search strategy. Getting a job in academia looks like it has increasingly bad odds. I am going to definitely be begging for a job from any cotton industry people I meet in London in November. Actually, other than being able to pay rent and eat I am not too picky about job compensation. Unfortunately, minimum wage does not even cover rent in any US city I have looked at. But, if anybody has a job to offer me that meets minimum rent and food let me know. I am willing to work anywhere in the world, but the employer has to take care of the visa arrangements.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I got one last link in the comments to my Mini Carnival of Diasporas. It involves the native population of Diego Garcia, forcibly expelled from their homeland by the British government at the request of the US. Rich Hindes at The Disillusioned Kid has a good post on this victim diaspora. The continued refusal of the British and US governments to allow the Chagossians to return home is quite shameful. The right to a homeland is a human right.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A busy morning in a small town

Last night's Mexican Independence dinner at the community center was quite good. Today my uncle and I went into town. We got library cards and visited the Friend's of the Library monthly sale. For a town of 150 people, Arivaca has a great library. For 75 cents I bought two books on deserts and one on the Amazon at the sale. I also checked out the Rough Guide to Greek music CD and a couple of books on the history of the US-Mexican border and the Navajo Nation. Then we went to the Aribaca cafe for coffee and then to the weekly farmers market. At the market we purchased some prickly pear glaze and jelly. We also found out that we can get our mesquite beans ground into flour for free at the Mesquite Festival at the end of the month. There are alot of community events here despite the small population and the people are very friendly.

More on Diasporas

My mini-carnival attracted more attention than I expected. I also find the topic continues to have almost daily importance. For instance this evening I will be attending a dinner to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. Such celebrations show the continued connections between the Mexican diaspora in the US and their homeland next door. The Mexican diaspora in the US has always had a strong presence in the South West for obvious historical and geographical reasons. But, its cultural and political profile has been growing throughout the US in recent years.

The response I got from the carnival was of a very high quality. Some of the links in the comments should have probably been included in the carnival itself. I am thus adding this additional post. Jonathan Edelstein at Head Heeb has a post up on the Tongan diaspora in relation to recent political events in that country. The Tongans certainly fit the profile of a lesser known diaspora. Yet in an age of increased migration, the creation of new diasporas due to labor migration from poorer to richer countries will certainly continue to expand. Countries like Tonga now send people to Austalia, New Zealand and the US. In contrast traditional countries of emigration such as Ireland and Germany are now destinations for immigrants.

Jonathan Edelstein also partially fulfilled my wishlist with a link to a web site on Namibia. Written by a recently deceased ethnic German engineer from Namibia it can be found here and has a lot of information on the history of the country's German population. Now if somebody will only send me something on Arabs in Uzbekistan or Japanese in Brazil.

I got a lot comments from Onnik Krikorian who has a lot of interesting posts dealing with the relationship of the Armenian diaspora with the Republic of Armenia. His posts on the Armenian diaspora can be found here and include a series of top notch interviews with prominent people like Raffi Hovannisian. Also dealing with issues concerning the Armenian diaspora is blogrel run by Katy Pearce,a SOAS postgraduate student. So you know it has to be good.

Finally, I am going to update my blogroll this weekend and permanently add the blogs listed above to it. I suspect that as a result of this experiment I will be doing more posts on diasporas and these blogs are pretty good resources. Just one last item. The best general book on the subject, particularly for the general reader is Robin Cohen's Global Diasporas: An Introduction (London, UCL Press, 1997). It does not have anything on the Tongan diaspora, but it does cover a number of larger diasporas in a comparative manner.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Carnival of Diasporas Post-Game

The Carnival of Diasporas which I thought would have a total of four readers did much better than my low expectations. It got some high powered links at Siberian Light, Blogrel and Cliopatria. I will do another one in the future. I am not sure exactly when I will post it. In the meantime, however, I will take submissions at pohlcat [the at sign] rocketmail [the dot] com. Even better would be if somebody else wants to take a franchise out on the carnival. My ability to hunt down stories with links that work is evidently quite minimal.

This carnival had pretty traditional diaspora groups Jews, Armenians and Indians. In the future I would like to cover some lesser known diasporas. If only to educate myself. So my wishlist of lesser known diasporas is below. They are in no particular order.

Arabs in Uzbekistan
Japanese in Brazil
Palestinians in Latin America
Germans in Namibia
Africans in Mexico

In fact if I could get one article on each of the groups above it would make a really good second mini carnival. It would make for a good contrast with the more well known Jewish, Armenian and Indian diasporas covered in the first mini carnival. So if by chance anybody reading this is an expert on one of the groups above write up a post and send me the link.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mini Carnival of Diasporas

For the four people who expressed interest in this idea I present the first Carnival of Diasporas in the Blogoverse. There are four links below. Some of them, however, connect to other links. So it looks deceptively small.

As I have stated before I consider a diaspora to be a culturally defined group of people living outside their historic homeland that have maintained a transgenerational connection to that homeland. These ties can be cultural, political or even just psychological. But, they do prevent total assimilation of these groups into their host populations and continue to mark them as being parts of larger communities across international boundries.

The prototypical diaspora group are the Jews. Indeed the capitalized version of the word Diaspora refers to the Jews dispersed from ancient Israel across the globe. Before World War Two, large Jewish populations lived in the Arab world, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Romania. Today the United States is home to the largest and historically most sucessful Jewish Diaspora. Jonathan Edelstein at Head Heeb links to a series of posts celebrating the 351st anniversary of the first Jewish settlers in what is now the US.

The mixture of traditional cultures brought by diasporas from their homelands with that of their host societies has created interesting fusions. Often the traditional culture of the diaspora reacts creatively to the pressures of living as a minority in an alien culture. Diasporic literature has sought to grapple with the issues this situation presents. Over at Sohel's Blog there is a discussion of Indian diasporic writing. Other forms of cultural expression have also developed unique diasporic styles. Over at Sepia Mutiny there is a review of the rock band the H1Bees formed by members of the Indian diaspora in the US. In many ways the literature, art and music of diaspora groups are greater than the sum of their homeland and host society components.

The political connections of diasporas to their ancestral homelands has always been an issue for all three parties involved, the diaspora community, the homeland country and the host society. Powerful diasporas such as the Jews and Armenians have exercised considerable clout in the politics of their imagined homelands. This influence is often negative as the most reactionary and militantly nationalist strains of politics tend to get preserved in diasporas. Raffi Meneshian at Life in the Armenian Diaspora strongly defends the political role of the Armenian diaspora against its critics. The comments section proves just how nasty and divisive diaspora politics can get.

This may end up being the only Carnival of Diasporas ever hosted so enjoy it. Any comments regarding the post above or diasporas in general are welcome in the thread below. Let me know what you think.

"Revisionism" and GR-Heritage

I no longer bother posting on GR-Heritage, the listserve Michael Miller at NDSU set up to discuss the history of the Russian-Germans. I have not posted there since I left California to move to London. Every so often I get e-mails regarding pieces on the list that might interest me. The latest such piece is one in a series of bizarre revisionist posts seeking to justify Stalin's deportation of the Russian-Germans to Kazakhstan and Siberia. Similar pieces as well as posts minimizing the earlier Tsarist deportation of Russian-Germans from Volhynia have appeared periodically there for years now. They are the product of a small group of really warped people.

It is bad enough when people rewrite history to deny, minimize or defend such crimes against humanity. It is truly astonishing when such pieces are written by people ethnically related to the victims and posted on a forum meant to discuss the history and culture of the victimized people from their point of view. Imagine a Jewish heritage board in which Holocaust deniers regularly posted arguments that the Nazis had a legitimate fear of an international Jewish conspiracy. A fear that justified their deportation of Europe's Jews to Auschwitz and other camps. Actions they claim that had wrongly been portrayed as an attempt to exterminate the Jews as a people rather than necessary security measures with some unintentional deaths. Now further imagine that these deniers are themselves Jewish and speak Yiddish. That is pretty much the situation now on GR-Heritage regarding the Russian-Germans. It has become dominated by revisionists dedicated to minimizing and justifying Russian and Soviet crimes against the Russian-Germans. I gave up debating with these exact same people on the list years ago. Still it is very disturbing that such a situation continues to exist. I can not imagine any other ethnic group allowing one of its heritage boards to be used in such a perverse fashion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Moving along

I am now up to 63 pages on Catherine's Grandchildren. I am almost finished with the chapter on the 1930s which is pretty grim. It has lots of stuff on deportations, famine and executions. Not nearly as bad as the 1940s, but alot worse than the other decades covered in the work. There are no really good decades, but the 1960s may be the best one overall. It had no famines, mass arrests, deportations or major wars involving the Russian-Germans.

I think I am going to start working on the 1920s soon. There were a number of positive things happening among the various Russian-German communities during that decade. The unending misery of the 1930s and 40s is really starting to wear on me. It is made all the worse by the fact that the 1920s were a time of cultural and economic regeneration. The various German national administrative units established in the USSR during the 1920s have really interesting histories. I have already finished writing about the one in Azerbaijan. Now I need to write about the Volga German ASSR and the various German national districts in Ukraine, the two in Crimea, the one in the Kuban, the one in Georgia and the one in Altai.


My comment threads suggest that I have very few interested readers. My guess is I have half a dozen at the most. It is difficult to tell without a site meter. I tried to install one once and nearly crashed the whole internet in my technical incompetence. But, I don't think it would differentiate the truly interested from casual readers. My profile says 520 people have visited it. This sounds very high to me. I suspect alot of them were one time visitors from links to a couple of my better publicized posts. No, I think the true measure of interest is the number of people who comment regularly. That leaves me with about half a dozen people. I wonder if there is any way to increase it?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Start of the week

Okay, the week is off to a good start. All my e-mail was real this morning, no spam. The weather is nice and it looks like I can take care of getting everything sorted for going to London without any problems. Every so often in a rare moment of unpredictability the universe decides to cooperate with my plans.

Today my plan is to work some more on covering the pipes. I have not lifted the shovel since Thursday. Then I intend to do some writing on the book manuscript. I am still working on the 1930s. Yesterday and Saturday I was writing about the Holodomor (murder famine). Today I think I will be writing about dekulakization. Then after I get a couple pages of that project done I am going to seriously tackle the cover letter.

After I get the cover letter finished I can send out for some more academic jobs. Although, I probably have a better chance of winning big at Costa del Sol. I ultimately do not think it will do much good since my research on the blogosphere has done more to confirm than allay my fear that search committees don't count publications, only teaching experience. I personally do not think they should let anybody who does not have a Ph.D. and at least one published book, maybe up it to two due to the tight job market, teach any university level classes. I am just bewildered to read about academics who have tenure track jobs writing about giving their first conference paper or writing their first journal article. Really that is stuff I did with only a BA. So is writing books. Then again as I have discovered academic hiring has nothing to do with scholarship.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Getting it together next week

This week could have been more productive. I got most of the trench with the pipes filled and six pages written on Catherine's Grandchildren. Less than I had planned, but at least something. Next week I am going to revise the cover letter and get another encyclopedia article written. I also hope to keep advancing on the book manuscript. It is easy to lose track of time here in Utopia.

I did go on a hunt for blog posts relating to diasporas. I got enough to do a mini-carnival if I do not find anymore before the 15th. It does not look like I am going to get very many nominations sent to me. Not that I expected a lot, but four or five would have been nice. At any rate I have half a dozen that I found this morning. I think I can work with that. I did not find any good posts on really exotic diapsoras. Instead I have a pretty traditional mix of one Jewish, one African, two Armenian and two Indian entries. They deal with literature, music and politics.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Following in Stalin's footsteps

In the 1970s both the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks compared their plight to that of the exiled Palestinians. The similar history of these three groups made this comparison difficult for the Soviet government to refute. All three nationalities had been forcibly expelled from their homelands by racist regimes pretending to support national equality under the guise of socialist rhetoric. None of the exiled peoples had been allowed to return to their homelands and their historical presence on the land had been systematically erased. Both the Soviet and Israeli governments had used a great deal of violence to permanently clear these peoples from their native lands. They also had large numbers of supporters in the US and other western countries that defended these acts of ethnic cleansing.

It is not surprising that the Zionist policies towards the Palestinian Arabs had a great many similarities with Stalin's earlier ethnic cleansings. Probably unknown to the Crimean Tatar and Meskhetian Turk activists using the analogy, the Soviet national deportations had actually served as an explicit model for the expulsion of the Palestinians. To be sure it was not the only model. The expulsion of the Greeks from Anatolia and Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia had also been studied by the Zionists as models to emulate regarding the Palestinians. But, the Stalinist deportations, particularly of the Volga Germans and Crimean Tatars were the favored model of the Labour Zionists due to their socialist providence. In particular the deportation of the Volga Germans came up frequently in public Zionist discourse during the 1940s as showing the proper manner in which to deal with the Palestinians. Berl Katznelson openly advocated copying the Soviet deportation of the Volga Germans as a means of clearing Palestine of its native population in an editorial published in Davar as early as 1943. Despite its Labour origins the idea of the Volga German deportations as a model also spread to other political parties. On 8 January 1949, Ya'acov Meridor of the Herut Party stood up in the Knesset and argued that Stalin had dealt with the Volga Germans in a proper manner and that Israel should expel its remaining Palestinian population in a similar fashion. The deliberate emulation of the Stalinist deportations as a model accounts in large part for the similarities between ethnic cleansing in the USSR and Palestine.

The Israelis like the Soviets used organized military units to round up the Palestinians from their ancestral villages and convey them to alien lands totally unprepared for their arrival. Organized Soviet style removals accounted for about 250,000 of the 750,000 Palestinians that left their homes from 1947 to 1949. The forced expulsion of nearly 60,000 Palestinians from Lydda and Ramale in particular resembled the earlier Soviet deportations. In both the Soviet and Israeli cases the expelees had little time to gather up any belongings; they permanently lost their farms, vineyards and orchards. Both expelling powers also desecrated the abandoned churches, mosques and cemetaries that had formed an integral part of the culture of the now banished natives. Finally, in both cases the victimized nationalities found themselves forced to live in conditions of extreme poverty in makeshift housing.

Both the Stalin regime and the Zionists intended their expulsions to be permanent. The permanent exile of special settlers in the USSR received codification from the Supreme Soviet on 26 November 1948. Israel passed the Absentee Property Law in 1950 which banned any Palestinians absent from their homes during 1947 and 1948 from ever returning to their former place of residence. This law also prohibited Palestinians expelled beyond the borders of what became Israel in 1949 and their descendents from ever acquiring Israeli citizenship or compensation for lost property. Expelled Palestinians attempting to cross the border to return home were frequently shot by the Israelis. From 1948 to 1956, Israeli border guards killed over 2,700 Palestinians attempting to cross their borders. Many of these fatalities were unarmed. Finally, the Absentee Property Law passed these legal disabilities down from generation to generation on the basis of biological, i.e. racial descent. It did not impose similar restrictions on people catagorized as Jews rather than Arabs by the Israeli government. Even Arabs who managed to later acquire Israeli citizenship could not return to their former villages and remained "Present Absentees." It is the formation of Israel on the basis of such laws that led to the charge that Zionism is a form of racism.

The catagory of Jew in Israel was conceptualized as racial not religious. The Israelis copied the Soviet style form of national classifications and ID cards had entries for citizenship, nationality and religion. An Arab ID card might read Israeli, Arab and Muslim, Sunni. While a Jewish ID card would read Israeli, Jewish and Jewish. It is the immutable nationality not the religion that defined Jews for purposes of rights under the Absentee Property Law and other legislation. An Arab converting to Judaism would still have an ID card reading Israeli, Arab, Jew and be considered an Arab in terms of having limited citizenship rights. But, the confusion of the term Jew as both a religious and a racialized nationality signifier has allowed many Americans and others to falsely claim that Israel is not a racist state.

The Zionists failed to completely expel all the Palestinians from the territory of the new Israeli state. About 150,000 remained under Israeli rule. The Israeli regime placed these people under a seperate legal and administrative system from the Jewish population. This system seems to have been copied from the Stalinist special settlement system. Palestinians could only live in certain designated areas and they had to obtain special permission to travel beyond these areas. The Israelis punished unauthorized travel with administrative fines and incarceration. Finally, like the special settlers in the USSR the Palestinians had to report to special police representatives on a regular basis. This discriminatory system existed in full force against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship until 1966.

The emulation of the Soviet model of ethnic cleansing and racial exclusion by Israel prehaps explains in part why so many Israeli partisans in the US and elsewhere have historically been unwilling to criticize the USSR's racist policies. If the USSR was guilty of ethnic cleansing and racism then a state that deliberately copied its policies of deportation and seperate treatment under the law for people of different nationalities would share this guilt. It would also partially explain why the cause of Palestine in the US has never gotten much support from the left which unlike the left in Europe has remained historically wedded to the Soviet legacy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Send me posts for Carnival of Diasporas

I would still like to do a Carnival of Diasporas on the 15th. So far nobody has sent me any posts. Now I know I have some regular readers. But, it is really not fair to make my parents send in all the nominations. So everybody send me your favorite diaspora posts at pohlcat [the at sign] rocketmail [the dot] com. Some of you are probably even members of diasporas so this task should not be too hard.

Speaking of diasporas, Peter Z. Andreyev, I answered your question about those involved in lobbying various governments on behalf of the Kalmyks in the comments section of my Kalmyk Diaspora post. To recap briefly you want to find a short book written by Dzhab Naminov-Burkhinov called Bor'ba za grazhdanskie prava kalmytskogo naroda/The Struggle for Civil Rights of the Kalmyk People. Yes, it is in both the original Russian with a readable, but less than stellar English translation. He was the main activist among the Kalmyks in the US during the 1950s. I hope that helps.

Meskhetian Turks

The Meskhetian Turks are one of history's victim diasporas. In November 1944, the Stalin regime deported almost the entire Meskhetian Turk population. The NKVD uprooted more than 94,000 people from their historic homeland in Georgia. Stuffed into cattle cars they spent over two weeks in transit to Kazakshtan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Here they spent over a decade living under special settlement restrictions. Over 15,000 perished from malnutrition, typhus and other poverty related ailments during the first four years of exile.Even after being freed from the special settlement restrictions, the Soviet government never allowed them to return home. The Georgian government still maintains this near blanket prohibition.

In 1989 a pogrom in Uzbekistan caused tens of thousands of Meskhetian Turks to become displaced again. Many of them went to Russia. Those unfortunate enough to end up in Krasnodar Krai have experienced severe persecution for over a decade and a half. The local authorities in Krasnodar have denied most of the nearly 15,000 Meskhetian Turks in the region permanent residence status. Absent documentation of this status they are legally banned from owning property, working in most jobs and attending institutions of higher education. They also suffer from ethnic defamation and even racially motivated violence. The regional government has made it clear that it does not want the Meskhetian Turks in Krasnodar Krai and has done nothing to discourage such attacks. Starting last year the US State Department began to resettle Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar Krai in Pennsylvania as refugees.

Some 300,000 Meskhetian Turks are now spread across Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Turkey and now the US. Very few, however, live in their historical homeland of Meskheti-Javakheti in Georgia. Spread from Pennsylvania to Kyrgyzstan they exist as a diaspora people in exile. Unfortunately for them it will not be next year in Akhaltsikhe.


Well I am up to page 60 on the book now. I intend to write some more on it later today. I am filling out the chapter on the 1930s pretty well. I hope to get it almost finished soon. Right now the chapters on the 40s and 50s are pretty much done. The chapter on the 60s still needs some work. It is at about the same place as the chapter on the 30s. Less well developed is the chapter on the 20s. Barely started is the chapter on the 70s. Not even started are the chapters on the 80s and 1917 to 1920. I have not done any other writing in the last couple of days, but I am still okay on deadlines.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This morning I got some more work done on covering the pipes before it got too hot and got another page written on the book. It is now up to 57 pages. I have been writing about social and economic trends in the 1960s for the past two days. Tommorrow I think I am going to do some work on the collectivization of agriculture in the 1930s. I need to reorganize that chapter a bit. It seems to run from the introduction into the Purges without leaving space for 1930-1936. But, it is better organized than the section on the 1920s so far. I will tackle that chapter later.

I heard back from the editor of the encyclopedia on slavery. He received my GULag article. His family is from LA, so he has been naturally preoccupied with other things. But, he reported that none of them were harmed and that he would start editing the volume soon. I still have three articles with a combined word total of 2500 words to write for it due on 15 October.

I finally got fed up with the bugs and sprayed them with poison. This seems to have done the trick. This morning one of the beatles bit me which sent me into an insectocidal rage. So I had to take drastic measures.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Arrival Day: The Jewish Diaspora in America

Today is the 351st anniversary of the arrival of the first Jews in what is now the US. Jonathan Edelstein at Head Heeb is hosting the festivities as he has for the last couple of years. Although not a well known holiday, historically it is an important one. It would be difficult to imagine contemporary American culture and life without its various strands of Jewish influence. The continued presence of Yiddish terms in American comedy, the popularity of bagels and cream cheese and the frequent appearance of themes relating to Jewish immigration and assimilation in American literature and movies all point to this influence. The Jewish Diapsora in the US has historically been one of the most prosperous and productive diasporas in the world. Formed from diverse communities that immigrated here from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere this Diaspora has fully integrated itself as one of the main contributors to the American melting pot. Many of the things that make America a distinct nation have Jewish origins. For instance, later today I am going to enjoy some kosher Nathan's hotdogs with kosher jalapeno peppers. Nothing could be more American.

Ready to roll

Okay, I got a page done on the book. I think I am ready to start making good progress on it again this week. I also hope to get another encyclopedia article done, rewrite my cover letter and finish covering the pipes all by Friday. If I can keep up my quota of a page a day I should have 100 pages done before I go to London. That would be about the half way point. I could get a rough draft of the whole manuscript done before the end of the year that way.

Catherine's Grandchildren

Today thanks to Michael Miller at NDSU library I got the links to a bunch of works by Viktor Krieger, an ethnic German born in Jambul Kazakhstan. Alot of the work he has available on the web deals with the settlement of Russian-Germans in Kazkahstan before 1917. I find the topic interesting, but it is really outside my main research interests. He did, however, have two pieces on the labor army available on the web which were quite good. One was in Russian and one in German. The one in Russian included some primary sources, letters written by a labor army conscript to his family. These letters are fascinating on a number of levels. One peculiarity that Krieger points out is that although they are written in German (he reproduces them in the original language) they contain obvious Russian influences. The most obvious one being the occasional use of Russian rather than German nouns. I could spot those pretty easily.

At anyrate the new sources and a call from my mother in which she asked about it, inspired me to start again on my popular audience book. I printed out the 55 pages I have written so far and reread it. It read really well. I don't think I will be adding too much to the section on the labor army, however, except direct quotations from survivors. It is pretty complete. It is the sections on the 1920s, 30s and 70s that need alot more work. I am going to start writing a page a day on the manuscript again. I still have not written today's page, but I did go through and edit the other 55 pages.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I found one of my lazy arachnid workers

Well, the bugs are starting to reappear without the pair of spiders that were here last night. I found one of them hanging out in my bathroom not eating bugs. I gave him explicit orders to return to the office and eat more bugs. But, he is ignoring me. I would think that a spider his size, about five inches in diameter, could eat a lot of bugs. Also a plea to everybody, please do not kill spiders. They are our friends. If you kill them the planet will be overrun with insects and we will all die of malaria or some other awful disease carried by mosquitos. If you do not want the big spiders in your kitchen then send them to me and I will put them in my office.

Renovation work

The other day I got alot done on covering the pipes. I should finish it this week. I have figured out how much dirt I can push up in a single load. I have also figured out how to avoid shoveling baby toads into the wheel barrow. The other day I had to fish one out and return him to the creek. A bigger toad probably ate him later.

My uncle and I got the gate finished today. It looks okay. The wood for the gate door did warp a bit, however. Even so it is certainly close enough for government work.

The spiders have left, but they seem to have done a good job of clearing out the bugs. I can only see a couple crawling on the walls right now. The other week they were covered with horrible black winged things.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Somebody is confused

I noticed today that the Cliopatria website has my blog listed under Academic Lives. Certainly, if they had read anything here they would know that I do not write about an academic life. I live in a rural areas with a population of 151 people for 17,000 square acres. I have never taught a day in my life even as a TA or adjunct. I find the stories posted on blogs of American lecturers to be far more alien to my way of thinking than any foreign culture I have read about. Now I would like to be an academic so that I can draw a paycheck, have access to a good library and most importantly pass knowledge on to young men and women. However, there does seem to be a serious disconnect between how I view the world and how most American Academics including those at Cliopatria perceive it. At least they listed my website which is much more than the politically correct bunch at Crooked Timbers. In response to their open request to list academic blogs I submitted mine. Like most academics they did not even have the manners to send me a rejection. They just ignored me. Which is just one of the many clues that I am not an academic. I am not a rude, arrogant pissant who believes he is superior to all others because he has the title professor. No, I do not live an academic life. Instead I live a human life and from what I can see in the blogsphere the two are probably incompatible.

Spiders kill bugs good man

Last week I had to constantly swipe bugs off my computer screen. Tonight there are few bugs remaining inside my office. Two large and hairy spiders have decided to come and enjoy the buffet. They are over on the wall and ceiling near the back porch to my office.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Soviet Apartheid

"Formally Soviet citizens are not restricted by law in their right to choose their place of residence on account of nationality or religious identification. In fact there exists apartheid on the basis of nationality, and also religion applied not only in relation to Meskhetians, but also in relation to Crimean Tatars, Germans, a part of the Koreans, western Ukrainians and Lithuanians, in relation to members of many religious sects, former political prisoners and others." (Moscow Helsinki Group "On the Situation of the Meskhi" 14 January 1977.)

This report carried the signatures of Ludmila Alexeyeva, Elena Bonner, Aleksandr Ginsburg, Piotr Grigorenko, Dr. Aleksandr Korchak, Malva Landa, Profesor Yuri Orlov, Vladimir Slepak and Anatoly Sharansky. It was not the last time the Moscow Helsinki Group compared Soviet nationality policies to South African apartheid. On 4 November 1977, they issued a report on Soviet discrimination against Crimean Tatars that again explicitly compared Soviet policies to apartheid in South Africa. Indeed during the 1970s, Moscow based human rights activists frequently made this comparison. Of course most western, particularly US scholars rejected this comparison because it made the USSR look bad and ruined their image of the Soviet Union as a non-racist state. The few exceptions that I have found have been Edward Allworth at Columbia and Geoffrey Hosking at SSEES. Much more information is available about Soviet nationalities policies today than was in the 1970s. Not, surprisingly this evidence supports the position of the Moscow Helsinki Group and refutes the standard revisionist line dominant in the US.

The Moscow Helsinki Group was writing about the 1970s and the continued residency restrictions that prevented Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks from living in their historical homelands. But, the comparison is even stronger for the 1940s and 1950s when the Stalin regime created an entire seperate administrative and legal system for the deported nationalities. The people designated as "special settlers" by the Stalin regime lived under distinct legal disabilities that limited their mobility, job opportunities and access to education on the basis of their "race."

Although the fifth entry in Soviet passports and other documents listed the term nationality this catagory operated in the same manner as race in South Africa. Starting in 1938, nationality in the USSR became an inherited and immutable legal catagory determined by the native language of a person's ancestors. An individual inherited his parent's nationality, could not change it during his life time and automatically passed it on to his children. Only in the case of mixed nationality marriages did some choice exist. In such cases the child had to pick the nationality of one of his parents upon reaching age 16. Nationality was determined solely by biological descent regardless of acculturation.

During World War II, the Stalin regime deported eight whole nationalites numbering over 2.3 million people to special settlement restrictions in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Siberia and the Urals. These people suffered many of the same legal disabilities that Blacks in South Africa later experienced under apartheid. The only major exception was the absence of a Soviet parallel to the "petty apartheid" of segregated public facilities enacted by the Seperate Amenities Act of 1953. Almost all other aspects of apartheid had earlier parallels in the special settlement regime. Below I detail just some of the many similarities. Other parallels such as job discrimination and legal status before the courts I have not dealt with due to a lack of space.

The keystone to "grand apartheid" was the Group Areas Act of 1950 which restricted the residency of Blacks, Coloureds and Asians. Similar restrictions also formed the foundation of the special settlement regime. The special settlers could only live in their assigned settlements and could not legally leave them even for short periods without special permission from the NKVD. The deported nationalities lived in confined internal exile in the USSR.

South Africa introduced a comprehensive pass system to enforce the Group Areas Act and other apartheid legislation in 1952. They had a difficult time distinguishing light skinned Coloureds from Whites and thus resorted to requiring individuals to carry documents noting their official race. Special settlers also had to carry special identification cards marking them as members of legally inferior nationalities. These documents carried a great deal of information reinforcing their legal inferiority based upon their ancestral heritage. They marked not only the nationality of the special settler and noted that they could not leave their assigned district without permission. But, they also noted the decree ordering their deportation and the date of their exile. In both the Soviet and South African cases the government used a sophisticated system of identification documents to define people racially and restrict their rights upon this basis.

Finally, Pretoria outlawed interracial marriage in 1949. The Soviet government did not ban mixed nationality marriages between free citizens and special settlers. Rather it imposed the status and restrictions of special settlement upon all free citizens that married special settlers. This punishment did not stop such marriages, but it did impose a huge burden upon the formerly free citizen.

In both the USSR and South Africa, the government created seperate systems of administration and law for people based upon their birth into racially defined groups. Physical restrictions upon residency and movement formed the foundation of these discriminatory systems. Soviet human rights activists of course recognized these similarities and wrote about them in the 1970s. Most western, particularly American Sovietologists, however, unfortunately remained willfully blind to this racialized discrimination.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Cannibalistic toads!

Some toads are cannibals. Today as I was digging up dirt from the creek bed to cover the pipes I was in the midst of hundreds of toads. So far I have discovered there are two distinct species of toads here. One has gotten pretty big by now. They are a kind of khaki color and seem to like to swim in the creek. The other type is much smaller and darker. They seem to prefer to hop on the land. The big toads like to eat the little toads. It was fascinating to watch.

I also noticed that the place has become bright purple with wild flowers and small butterflies of the same color. Intermixed with the purple butterflies are some larger black and red ones. I did, not, however witness any of the bigger butterflies eating the smaller ones.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Defining the Middle East

A lot of the positions I have applied for in academia are forjobs in the history of the Middle East. Due to recent events it is a hot topic and has a number of new openings each year. In contrast the number of new slots dealing with Russia has dwindled down to almost nothing. It is no longer considered a threat and hence there is no money allocated to study it. Once federal money to study countries deemed a threat to US interests dries up American universities quickly lose interest in researching the history those countries. My interests lay outside the Russian areas of the USSR. I am primarily interested in the Muslim areas of the former Soviet Union, particularly Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

According to the Library of Congress, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Caucasus are part of the Middle East. Given the authority of this source this should be enough. But, I will also note that the prestigious Middle East Institute in Washington DC also includes these regions as part of the Middle East. They after all have two of the most important criteria for being Middle Eastern, a predominantly Muslim population and oil.

Central Asia, Kazakhstan and the Caucasus certainly fit better into the Middle East than they do into Europe or Asia. This last term in the US almost always refer to the core countries of East Asia. That is China, Japan and Korea. Sometimes it will encompass some South East Asian countries such as Vietnam as well. It rarely refers to the Indian subcontinent and almost never to Central Asia. In the US for some reason the terms Orient and Asia are considered to be alternate spellings of China. In the UK in contrast Asia means South Asia. That is India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Oriental in Great Britian generally refers to the Middle East, particularly the Arab world. The problem of Americacentric terms that contradict the official US geographical definitions given by the Library of Congress is a real one.

It has occurred to me that alot of American Universities like alot of Americans have no conceptual space for Central Asia and the Caucasus except for their former membership in the USSR. Thinking of these regions as post-Soviet makes a certain amount of sense, but it also makes sense to think of Indochina, Algeria and West Africa as former French colonial space. These are not geographical divisions. If one is going to be consistent then America should be catagorized as part of the former British Empire.

The broad definition of the Middle East used by the Library of Congress and Middle East Institute is often replaced by narrower more parochial borders. Alot of these make no sense. The classic American grouping of Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the Arabian penninsula as being the whole of the Middle East is particularly irrational. Why are only parts of the Arab, Turkic and Iranian worlds included? Surely, even taking into account the Berbers and other minorities, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya are just as Arab as Iraq with its large Kurdish minority or Egypt with its many Copts. It gets even stranger in the northern tier. Both Turkey and Iran are considered part of the Middle East, but Azerbaijan is not. Azerbaijani is linguistically close enough to Anatolian Turkish that they can easily communicate with each other and half of the world's Azerbaijanis live in Iran. But, because Azerbaijan was briefly under Tsarist then Soviet rule it is not included as part of the Middle East. Angola was under Portuguese rule for much longer than Azerbaijan was under Russian and Soviet rule. That does not, however, remove Angola from Africa. If one is going to define the Middle East it should be done on a cultural basis. That would include all those countries of Arab, Turkic and Iranian heritage. This area stretches from Mauritania in the west, Sudan in the south, Kazakhstan in the north and Eastern Turkestan in the east. The Library of Congress and Middle East Institute use this definition. Everybody else should get with the program.

Remains of the day

Today was rather uneventful. It was pretty cool and we got one last monsoon rain. Before the storm I got a start on covering the pipes on the side of the house. I got about two feet done. Later I helped my uncle move the furniture from the Arizona room back into the living room now that he has finished the floor. I will try and get a couple of feet done on the pipes each day. Hauling a wheelbarrow full of creek soil up a steep hill is not somthing I can repeat too many times in a single day.

I think the collective blogging in favor of sanctions against Uzbek cotton went really well. I learned alot of stuff I did not know so I can only assume that it must have seemed like an overwhelming amount of information to interested lay readers. I hope it informed some people about the situation.

Somebody forgot to send out the memo on blacklisting me from the History Carnival this week. They carried my entry. Although I suspect it has to do with the fact that it dealt with White racism against Asians. Had I submitted another post on Russian racism against Germans I suspect it would have been rejected as well. I also got linked by the Teaching Carnival which I find to be really ironic since I have never taught a day in my life. I think the conspiracy against me is getting sloppy and losing paperwork in the shuffle. Not that it matters that much. Recently, I have decided to try and not let myself get annoyed at such slights. I am feeling alot better as a result.

I have been trying to follow events in New Orleans, but things seem to still be extremely chaotic over there. I really do not have anything to add on the issue. I don't have any money or anything else to give anybody.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The History of Cotton in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's cotton monoculture along with its current dictator, Islam Karimov is a legacy of Soviet rule. The centrally planned Soviet economy aimed to make the USSR as a whole self sufficient. To this end certain republics became highly specialized producers of certain commodities for consumption within the Soviet market and in certain cases export for hard currency. The Soviet regime concentrated on growing cotton in Uzbekistan at the expense of all other crops. As a result of this cotton monoculture Uzbekistan continues to suffer from a variety of economic, political and ecological deformities. Not the least of which has been the drying up of the Aral Sea and the poisoning of the surrounding land with salt.

Already in the 1860s in response to the loss of the Southern US as a source of cotton, the Tsarist regime sought to promote the cultivation of cotton in what is now Uzbekistan to provide raw material for its textile mills. In 1925 and 1926, Soviet land reform eliminated the problem of landless peasants cultivating other peoples lands in the region. However, most of the small plots now owned by Uzbeks remained too small to be economically viable. The inability of Uzbek farmers to make a living from these parcels of land facilitated the collectivization of agriculture in the early 1930s. Unlike European areas of the USSR, strong class antogonisms between the formerly landless peasants and the former land owning class of bais remained muted. Many bais retained positions of notable influence in rural communities despite the confiscation of much of their wealth during the land reform campaign. To remove this influence which the Soviet government correctly connected with opposition to collectivization, the OGPU forcibly deported over 12,000 families from their homes to places as far away as Ukraine and the North Caucasus. The collectivization of agriculture ensured state control over the rural Uzbek economy. In the following decades, the Soviet state would use this control to turn the Uzbek countryside into one large cotton plantation.

The Soviet government sought to expand the production of cotton in Uzbekistan by expanding its planted acreage at the expense of food crops and the intensive use of fertilizers. Expansion of cotton cultivation required massive irrigation. Unpaid corvee labor built the canals that provided this irrigation including the 270 km long Great Ferghana Canal constructed in 1930. Other forms of forced labor also contributed to cotton cultivation at this time. By 1934, 20,100 inmates in the Sazlag complex of corrective labor camps in Chirchik worked on cotton farms. By the end of the 1930s, the USSR had become self sufficient in cotton.

Cotton cultivation in Uzbekistan continued to receive a priority throughout the Soviet period. It also created significant distortions in the region's economy. By the early 1980s the USSR had become a major exporter of cotton. It accounted for over a fifth of the world's production and lagged only behind China in total output. Although Tajikistan and Turkmenistan contributed to Soviet cotton production, Uzbekistan remained the center of cultivation in the USSR with 70% of production. Uzbekistan became heavily dependent upon harvesting raw cotton for the USSR and had to acquire almost everything else including textiles from other regions of the USSR. Cotton in Uzbekistan at this time employed 40% of its total labor force and generated 65% of the republic's total economic output. The rapid expansion of this crop, however, proved unsustainable. It could not grow fast enough to fully employ and provide a rising standard of living to the increasing Uzbek population. The economic conditions of the predominantly rural Uzbek population thus stagnated and started to decline. A trend that acclerated rapidly after the collapse of the USSR. The Soviet emphasis on the production of raw cotton to the exclusion of other economic activities impeded economic diversification, industrialization and urbanization. Thus leaving Uzbekistan relatively backwards compared to Russia and other European areas of the USSR.

Cotton monoculture also wrecked havoc on the Uzbek ecology. The expansion of cotton cultivation in Uzbekistan required the massive diversion of scarce water resources for irrigation. Cotton farms drained so much water from the Amu Darya and Sir Darya rivers that they could no longer replace the water that evaporated from the Aral Sea. As a result the Aral Sea shrank significantly and rendered much of the nearby land infertile due to excess salinity. The overuse of pesticides also posed environmental dangers. Finally, the failure to practice crop rotation led to massive soil erosion in Uzbekistan. The environmental degradation caused by cotton in Uzbekistan has caused serious health problems among many of its rural inhabitants. Despite being a noticeable problem since the 1980s, neither the Soviet government or Karimov regime made any serious attempt to address its root causes in the cotton industry.

Today the cotton farms remain state property. The workers on these farms receive only a small fraction of the money earned by the state by the sale of cotton to western companies. It returns very little of this to the people of Uzbekistan in the form of social services such as education and health care. Both of which have deteriorated signficantly since the collapse of the USSR. Child labor mobilized by local officials during the fall harvest season remains wide spread. This practice has further retarded education in Uzbekistan. The cotton monoculture of Uzbekistan remains in need of serious reform. Toothless suggestions have not improved the situation. Only the force of threatening sanctions against the crop unless there are serious reforms is likely to improve the situation.

Today's accomplishments

I finished writing, typing and editing my abstract for the workshop in Boston in October 2006. I sent an electronic version to the organizer by e-mail and will send a hard copy by post later this week. I have now finished all of this year's conference work except for attending the Central Asian cotton conference in London in November.

I now have the following outstanding assignments. I have three more encyclopedia articles to write. I also have about a half dozen jobs that are awaiting revised cover letters before I submit the applications. Finally, I still have to cover the pipes on the side of the house with dirt. I might start on this final task tommorrow it will let me think about what I want to write about regarding Uzbekistan and cotton.