Monday, March 31, 2008

Registration for Classes

Registration for next semester's classes started today. In the fall I am teaching Democratization and Political Culture again. I am also co-teaching Politics of the Middle East and Politics of Nationalism, Race and Ethnicity. The class on Nationalism, Race and Ethnicity has almost filled up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Baltic Deportations

Peteris Cedrins at Marginalia has put up an excellent post on Operation Priboi (Russian for Surf) which was the code name for the mass deportations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that began on 25 March 1949.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Price of Donuts Way Up

I used up most of my four day weekend revising a journal article. Upon finishing this task I have noticed that consumer inflation has reached a ridiculously high level here. In the last week the price of donuts has gone up 20%. Many other goods as well seem to have risen in cost only slightly less.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Today is Nooruz or Persian New Year here in Kyrgyzstan. It takes place every year on the spring equinox. The streets of Bishkek right now are crowded with merry makers and vendors. The weather is also perfect today.

The Accordion Player is back

After months of not seeing the Russian accordion player on my way to work I finally saw him yesterday. I gave him five som and talked to him briefly about the great improvement in the weather. I take it as a good omen that street music has returned to Bishkek along with warmer weather.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Shoes Finally Arrived!

The shoes my mother sent me from the US many months ago finally arrived here in Bishkek.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Palestine and Academic Freedom

In an hour I will be giving a lecture on the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 for my Migration and Borders class. I probably could not give such a talk in a US classroom without my employer being subjected to pressure to fire me. One need only note the case of Norman Finkelstein.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Spring break passed me by pretty fast and now it seems I have more work than ever.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gray/Grey Literature

I learned a new term today. It appears I have been using gray or grey literature without knowing it. I came across the term because somebody recently complemented me on my use of such sources. This prompted me to look the term up. Brian S. Matthews defines gray literature as "documentary material that is not commercially published and is typically composed of technical reports, working papers, business documents, and conference proceedings." A quick Google search in fact shows that there is a large body of literature regarding the use of gray literature. A search for "gray literature" turned up 74,100 hits and one for "grey literature" got around 168,000 hits. Because gray literature has historically been poorly indexed and catalogued as well as difficult to obtain, finding it and using it presents unique problems. Despite these problems I would say that there is a lot of valuable material available to scholars in gray literature. From my brief Internet search on the topic it appears that the scientific and technical fields are considerably more advanced in their use of gray literature than the social sciences. The humanities including history in turn are woefully behind the social sciences in their exploitation of gray literature.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Spring has finally arrived in Bishkek. The weather is warm and sunny. I am glad that winter is finally over. It was much colder this year in Central Asia than it was in Arizona last year.

Link to Document Collection on Expulsion of Sudeten Germans

I found this link recently to an English language translation of Dokumente Austreibung der Sudetendeutschen (Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans). It has 370 eyewitness accounts by survivors of this ethnic cleansing. These reports were taken shortly after the events described. I glanced at the first 40 reports and they were all given between 1945 and 1951, most of them in 1945 and 1946. They detail the various murders, robberies, internments in concentration camps and other crimes committed against the Sudeten Germans in 1945 and 1946 during the expulsions.

The Czechs made no distinction between Germans that supported the Nazis and those that did not and brutally murdered many women and children in the process of expelling more than three million people. Even German Communist Party members who had been active anti-fascists did not receive immunity from persecution. (see report number 3). Nor did the blind (see reports numbers 4 and 5) or old women (see reports 9 and 10). On 18-19 June 1945, a group of Czechs murdered 71 German men, 120 women and 74 children in the town of Prerau/Prerov. (Pykel, p. 18). Among the Sudeten Germans robbed of all their property and permanently exiled from their homeland was Righteous Gentile Oskar Schindler. (Hayden, p. 728). There can be no justification for such crimes against humanity.

Sources cited in addition to Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans

Robert M. Hayden, "Schindler's Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers," Slavic Review, Vol 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 727-748.

Piotr Pykel, "The Expulsion of the Germans from Czechoslovakia," in Steffen Prauser and Arfon Rees, eds., The Expulsion of the 'German' Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War (Florence, Italy: European University Institute, 2004).

Friday, March 07, 2008

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day here in Bishkek and it is a huge holiday. It is even bigger than Valentine's Day. If prices are an accurate indicator it is 1.5 times as important. A single red rose imported from Holland cost 200 som on February 14th. Last night the price was 300 som. The florists love this holiday. It is their single biggest time of the year for sales.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Things I have been talking about in class

These last two weeks my classes have been heavy on lectures about repression and ethnic cleansing. This week in Political History of the USSR I am covering the Great Terror of 1937-1938. In particular I am focusing on the Polish Operation which was the largest of the national operations during those two years. In total it resulted in 111,091 executions. (Morris, p. 760). Last week the class focused on the exile of farmers branded as kulaks to special settlement villages in the Far North during 1930. I have been trying to get the students to see the connections between these two events and the evolution of repression in the USSR from a class basis to an ethnic basis during the 1930s.

In my Migration and Borders class this week I am covering the expulsion of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe. In particular the course is covering the ethnic cleansing of the Sudeten Germans. Last week the course dealt with Stalin's deportation of the Kalmyks to Siberia and their exile under special settlement restrictions from 1943 to 1956. I assigned Elza-Bair Guchinova's article, Deportation of the Kalmyks (1943-1956): Stigmatized Ethnicity. I got some really good feedback from the class on this particular reading. Its emphasis on the experience of the Kalmyks themselves rather than Soviet policy makes it a very accessible piece.

Next week is Spring Break so I have no classes. I still have to work, but I am hoping that it will be more relaxing. A new hookah lounge has opened up near where I live and I hope to try it out before the end of Spring Break.

Source for figures on executions during Polish Operation:

James Morris, "The Polish Terror: Spy Mania and Ethnic Cleansing in the Great Terror," Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 56, no. 5 (July 2004), pp. 751-766.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I am catching an increasing number of cases of plagiarism. It causes me great psychic pain to fail students. But, this fact does not prevent me from failing students I catch plagiarizing assignments.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss scheduled for publication in June 2008

The book German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss is now listed in the Wilfrid Laurier University Press catalog as forthcoming in June 2008. Edited by Mathias Schulze, James M. Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach this book contains over 40 chapters on various German diasporas around the globe. One of those chapters is my "Suffering in a Province of Asia: The Russian-German Diaspora in Kazakhstan."