Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ghanaian-Soviet Relations

Today I got a message which noted I was one of the few historians that worked on both the Soviet Union and Ghana. Although truth be told despite working at the University of Ghana, Legon since January 2011, I have not actually published very much dealing specifically with Ghana. In total I think I have two book chapters that make any specific references to Ghana, one of which is still in press. But, as the commemorative stamp from the USSR to the right makes clear there were fairly close connections between Ghana and Moscow during the Nkrumah era from 1957 to 1966. Of course researching these connections in Ghana is difficult since the MFA archives even for events over 50 years old are still inaccessible to academic researchers and are likely to remain so until after I retire. Nonetheless, someday in the distant future somebody will be able to use the PRAAD archives to research Ghanaian-Soviet relations.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

News Round Up

This story is from neighboring Kazakhstan about the massive famine of 1930-1933 due to the forced settlement of nomads and semi-nomads and collectivization.

This story is from Arivaca where I used to live and deals with the Border Patrol Checkpoint north of the town.

This story is from Palestine and Bikini Bottom about a Krusty Krab restaurant opening in Ramallah.

Война... Трудармия... Дорога домой...

A song about Russian-Germans in the labor army during World War II.

Can Kyrgyz history from 1863 to 1991 be studied within the greater context of global imperialism and colonialism?

I think there is definitely room to write a comparative history of colonialism and post-colonialism in Central Asia and West Africa. Or more specifically Kyrgyzstan and Ghana. I don't think that anybody disputes that Kyrgyzstan was colonized by Tsarist Russia from 1863 to 1917 and Ghana by the British from 1874 to 1957. It is the Soviet period from 1917 to 1991 in which the status of Kyrgyzstan is disputed. I would argue that it was a semi-colony during this time operating under a form of indirect rule (korenizatsiia) imposed by Moscow. It wasn't politically or economically independent, but it is quite obvious that unlike in the Gold Coast and other parts of colonial Africa that there was a net flow of  resources from the center in Moscow to Kyrgyzstan in the periphery. That is rather than serving as a source for the net extraction of resources, Kyrgyzstan benefited from the transfer of resources from other parts of the USSR to build physical infrastructure, factories, hospitals, schools, and other structures associated with "modernity."  I believe that such a structural relationship can still fit into a larger comparative history of imperialism and colonialism even though the economic basis of the USSR differed greatly from the British and French empires in Africa. However, I welcome any comments arguing that Soviet rule over Central Asia was so completely different from European colonial rule over Africa that it is not possible to integrate the two into the same thematic history.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Soon this blog will be a decade old. What should I do with it?

I have been milling over what should be the fate of this blog for a while. It will be a decade old in August and I am not sure what direction if any to take it in the next decade. When I first started blogging in 2004 the medium was a lot more robust. Now, blogging almost seems like an outdated form of writing kind of like the serialized novel. The heyday of the blog passed several years ago and other platforms like Facebook seem to have become far more popular. I could write a lot more posts on purely personal matters like the fact I took my kids to Panifilov Park last night and make this kind of an open electronic diary. Although for a number of reasons Facebook seems like a better platform for that kind of writing. I could also move to make this a completely scholarly blog dealing with ideas relating to my research, teaching, and just plain random thoughts. Or I could move it to just dealing with music, art, and cuisine.  That would entail a much heavier African influence during most of the year. If anybody is reading this please let me know what your thoughts on this are. Alternatively, I could just continue to muddle along with no focus at all.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I am currently in Bishkek for the summer. Blogging will continue to be slow until I return to Ghana.