Sunday, March 30, 2014

Korenizatsiia as the logical conclusion of indirect rule

It has occurred to me since I have been living in Africa that the Soviet policy of korenizatsiia (indigenization) to rule over the various non-Russian territories of the USSR was not any kind of real concession to national self determination as claimed by the Soviet leadership and most Western scholars today. Instead it was merely the logical conclusion of Lord Lugard's policy of indirect rule implemented in the British Empire as the most efficient way to rule over large expanses of territories with a minimal number of European administrators.

In both the Soviet and British cases representatives from the indigenous populations ruled the territory and people on behalf of the central metropolitan power based in Moscow or London. These local leaders enforced the political rule of the center and made sure that the economic resources of the peripheral territories remained subordinated to policies dictated from the center. There was no real political or economic autonomy either under indirect rule or Soviet korenizatsiia. In both cases indigenous elites carried out policies crafted in far away London or Moscow without any significant input by the population living in places like the Gold Coast or the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic.

In addition to the centralization of political and economic policies and their execution by indigenous elites the two systems shared another similarity. The indigenous people were allowed and even encouraged to keep and develop officially sanctioned versions of their native cultures and traditions. Despite, some misguided claims to the contrary there was nothing unique about the Soviet policies of supporting indigenous languages, customs, and cultural forms under korenizatsiia. These things were encouraged rather than suppressed in the British African colonies. A good argument can be made that British practice often allowed more real cultural autonomy than the Soviet Union permitted. Certainly, things like the suppression of indigenous religious practices seem to put the British in a better light than the Soviets. But, there are other places where actual practice shows the British to be far more supportive of indigenous cultures than the Soviets. For instance a far greater percentage of Europeans in West Africa learned indigenous languages than did Russians in Central Asia and other non-Russian republics. Indeed unlike the USSR where ethnic Russians working in the administrative apparatus of non-Russian republics almost never learned the indigenous language, the British were eventually successful in forcing almost all of their long term administrators in the Gold Coast to become proficient in one of the local languages (Talk to University of Ghana History Department by K.B. Asante  12 February 2014). In both cases there is an official policy of bilingualism for both indigenous and non-indigenous administrators. But, in the case of the Gold Coast it was put in practice whereas in the USSR the practice was for indigenous cadres to learn Russian without requiring Russians to become bilingual.

There is no question that indirect rule was the cheapest and most efficient way to run much of the British Empire. Likewise, korenizatsiia was viewed as the only way that a political state centered around Moscow could continue to control the administration and resources of the vast non-Russian populated areas of what became the USSR. Loyal indigenous leaders were in both cases looked at as the best way for the center to assert political and economic control over the people, lands, and resources of the periphery. In neither case was their any real political or economic autonomy for the periphery. However, in both cases the preservation and promotion of official versions of traditional cultures were a central pillar of metropolitan policy. While many scholars in the US and elsewhere have gone to great length to stress apparent differences between the USSR and colonial empires, the similarities between the policies of korenizatsiia and indirect rule have been largely ignored. Instead korenizatsiia has been falsely portrayed as a form of real decolonization granting concrete national self-determination rather than just a more developed form of indirect rule.

K. Frimpong and his Cubano Fiestas - Kyenkyen Bi Adi M'awu

More great Ghanaian music.

Vis-A-Vis - Obi Agye Me Dofo

This is one of the greatest songs to ever come out of Ghana.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The UN Vote on Crimea

Interestingly enough most of the votes in the UN in favor of the Russian position appear to come from states more motivated by anti-Americanism than by close relations with the Russian Federation. Out of the ten states siding with the Russian Federation only two were former Soviet republics. These two states were Armenia and Belarus. None of the Central Asian states voted in favor of the Russian position. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan abstained. Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan were absent for the vote. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, the Baltic States, and of course Ukraine voted against the Russian position. The largest bloc of votes for the Russian position came from "radical" states in Latin America. These states were Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.  To these can be added North Korea and Zimbabwe as states with hostile attitudes towards the US, but far less tied to Russia than places like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The abstention  by Kazakhstan rather than a vote for the Russian position is in fact significant. Kazakhstan under Nazarbayev has had quite close political and economic relations with Russia. But, the annexation of Crimea under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians when there are numerous areas in Kazakhstan on the border with the Russian Federation that have ethnic Russian majorities seems to have unsettled Nazarbayev somewhat. That is one of the side effects of the annexation is that Russia's closest ally in Asia may become more distant. Even back in Soviet times one of the things that strained relationships the most between the local titular communist elites in Kazakhstan and Central Asia and Moscow was the status of non-titulars in the republics with regards to territorial autonomy. The threat of breaking off parts of northern Kazakhstan and joining them with the Russian Federation is the one thing that could realistically cause the current Kazakh leadership to seriously distance itself from Moscow.

Voted for Russian position: Armenia, Bolivia, Belarus, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Abstained: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Comoros, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guyana, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Rwanda, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent-Grenadines, Sao-Tome Principe, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia

Absent: Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Serbia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, U.A.E., Vanuatu, Yemen.

Voted against Russian position: Every other sovereign state on the planet.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What I did today.

I finally finished editing an article I have been working on since 15 January 2014. I have now sent it off to the editor and it is no longer hanging around my neck. Now I just have to revise my Ho paper (yes at least once more again) for the publication to come out of that conference. I should get some instructions regarding further revisions on that project sometime next month.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sixty Five Years Since Operation Priboi

The 25th of March was the 65th anniversary of the start of Operation Priboi in which the Soviet MVD forcibly deported nearly 95,000 Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians to Siberia.  Here they came under the special settlement regime as permanent 'evictees.' This massive crime against humanity is one of the primary reasons that the people of the Baltic States have always been wary of Russia.

Didn't you already try that?

I noticed that most of the radical leftist academic bloggers such as Crooked Timber, Corey Robin, and Fredrik deBoer are debating whether their movement is more or less supportive of free speech than it was in the past. Totally ignored in this debate is that fact that when the radical left has seized power whether in the USSR, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, or even Cuba there has in fact not been any freedom of expression, but rather state control and censorship of the media. This control was usually enforced by the use of state violence, particularly in the form of incarcerating people dissenting from the official communist party line. Also it should be noted that this annihilation of freedom of expression did not eliminate racism, sexism, or homophobia  in these states even though many in today's left uphold restrictions on speech as a way of permanently solving these problems. The complete and total unwillingness of the radical left to ever come to terms with the results of their control over the USSR, China, and other countries is something that I doubt will ever go away. Contrary to the opinions of the radical academic left in the US today, the reason most Americans opposed actually existing socialism was not because these states had universal state health care and education, but rather because they put dissidents and poets in concentration camps.

Update: It has been pointed out to me by Dr. Robin that his post does indeed contain a sentence criticizing Soviet restrictions of freedom of speech. So my statement "Totally ignored" above is too categorical and should be changed to "Almost totally ignored" or "Largely ignored" to be accurate. I am going to leave the original error up, however, to avoid confusion when reading the comments.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another Interesting Symbol

This a Soviet military badge for Kalmyks from the Russian Civil War. The hammer and plow at the top as well as the swastika in the center show that this particular insignia was used sometime between 1919-1922. The hammer and plow was replaced by the hammer and sickle in 1922 in the Red Army, but I do not know when Kalmyk and Buriat units were no longer allowed to use the swastika. I am guessing that it was outlawed sometime during the anti-religious campaigns of the early 1930s since the swastika is most definitely a Buddhist religious symbol. So here we have an early Soviet military badge combining the old hammer and plow with the Buddhist swastika along with a red star, wreath, and the letters RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republics).

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Jews for Bandera"

The logo to the right is evidently a symbol of a really existing organization. Although I have no idea how big or influential it is. Evidently, it has some members in Israel as well as other places. Here is their FB page where they seem to be pushing the sale of shirts with their logo. At any rate the merged Ukrainian-Jewish national logo on red and black is one of the more interesting fusions of symbols I have seen. The idea of an openly Jewish group being followers of the late Stepan Bandera is of course a highly unusual one given the historical hostility expressed by most Jewish organizations towards his movement. I don't know anything more about the group and it may just be a ploy to sell t-shirts with their cool design on them.

What I do

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Old South African Laws

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak at the University of Ghana

I saw Spivak speak this morning. I found her presentation much more interesting than I thought I would. First, I agree with her that culturally based nationalism is a problem rather than a solution for the most part. Although I do not know enough about the specifics of Indian history to comment too much on her main examples. I did find it very interesting that she compared the descendants of the Aryans in India to settler colonies elsewhere. I have never heard this particular theory and the comparison struck me as quite unusual. But, again I don't know enough to say whether it is valid or not. Maybe somebody with more knowledge of Indian history than I have can enlighten me on this point?

The ethnic cleansing begins again

It appears the removal of the Crimean Tatars from lands they are currently living on in Crimea is official policy of the new Russian occupation authority in the peninsula. This of course will not be the first ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars. But, it is amazing to me how rapidly things have deteriorated in Crimea since the Russians began their initial military operations to amputate the peninsula from the Ukrainian state. Even the wording isn't new. The 1944 deportation order also talked about providing them with other land in compensation for the loss of their native homeland. In reality the Soviet government confiscated most of the property of the Crimean Tatars without any kind of compensation and sent them to the deserts of Uzbekistan and wet forests of the Urals to perform hard labor and die by the tens of thousands. I don't think that the current Russian government will exactly repeat the actions of the Stalin regime. But, the actions taken so far are bad enough and it looks like it is only going to get worse.

Today in Legon

Today we had two black outs, but I still managed to conduct our weekly seminar and attend a meeting with several other faculty regarding a project on the connections between Ghana and the rest of the world since the 17th century. Conducting the seminar without light wasn't too difficult, but I am sure our presenter would have preferred to show us the rest of his photographs and other visuals. What is far more annoying than a loss of light or computer power during the frequent March power outages is the loss of ac and fans.  Although the ac may be a contributing factor to the outages since March is just about the hottest month here in Ghana. It is pretty much impossible to do any work in my office when the power goes off during this time of year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The First Pogrom Victim

Reshat Ametov's body was found two days ago with signs of having been tortured. The untimely and violent death of this 39 year old Crimean Tatar activist and father of three bodes very unwell for the future of the peninsula's indigenous population. While one hopes that this is the last such disappearance, torture, and murder to take place in Russian occupied Crimea my gut instinct as an historian tells me it will not be. Earlier I speculated that the Russian occupation of Crimea could very well lead to pogroms against the indigenous people of the territory. It appears that at least one victim has already been claimed.

BIG MEN Official HD Trailer Premiere

There is a US movie dealing with Ghana coming out soon.

Geraldo Pino and The Heart Beats - Power to The People

Some great African music.

Monday, March 17, 2014

In Solidarity

A Successful Mission to the US Embassy

Today my trip to the US embassy in Accra was successful. My appointment which I made online on Friday was for 11:00 am, but I managed to get back to the office by 11:22 am. If I had been going any faster I would have been going back in time. Actually I got there early and they processed me without waiting. I got my document notarized, signed, and stamped all without any problems. One of my coworkers who is a British citizen tells me the US embassy in Ghana is one of the US State Department's show piece models and that is why they are so efficient and polite compared to some other US consular staff in other countries. But, if this is the case why not insist that all consular staff follow the successful model of efficient and polite service practiced by the people working at the US embassy in Accra?

Open Thread (on which nobody will comment naturally)

Here is an open thread which will undoubtedly remain completely dead since my blog has returned to having almost zero readers. Although even during the very brief time when it did have some readers it still had no commentators. Any normal person would have completely stopped blogging years ago under these conditions. But, I am far too stubborn to let this thing die even though only me and six other people ever read anything on it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Crimea and Russian National Minorities Elsewhere

Crimea is not the only territory outside the Russian Federation with a large number of ethnic Russians. Eastern Ukraine, northern Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Estonia, and Latvia all also have Russian national minorities as does Transnistria in Moldova. These minorities of course should have the same rights as other national minorities in the world with regards to not being subject to discrimination and being allowed to use and practice their language and traditions. They do not, however, have an intrinsic right to both live in their current places of residence and live under the rule of the Russian Federation. If they wish to live under the laws and administration of the Russian Federation then they must move there. They can not have Moscow's rule move to them. The violent readjustment of borders and partitioning of states to create more homogenized nation states has a very sordid history often associated with ethnic cleansing. So yes to full equality of rights to national minorities including Russians living in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Baltic states and no to Russian annexation of the territory of existing independent states.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will there be pogroms against the Crimean Tatars?

Reports from Crimea indicate that the indigenous Crimean Tatars are very worried about the possibility of violence by ethnic Russians against their community. The Crimean Tatars have very good historical reasons to fear the occupation of their ancestral homeland by the Russian state. Both the Tsarist Russian government and Russian dominated Soviet government subjected the Crimean Tatars to ethnic cleansing. The first pushing many Crimean Tatars out of the Russian Empire into the Ottoman Empire and the second forcibly rounding up almost the entire remaining population and deporting them to Uzbekistan and the Urals.  In Uzbekistan tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars died from malnutrition and malaria from 1944 to 1948. There they lived as second class citizens as special settlers for nearly a dozen years, a status that was intended by the Stalin regime to be permanent. However, even after being released from the special settlement restrictions, the Crimean Tatars were still prohibited by the Soviet government from returning to Crimea until 1987. After that time about half the Crimean Tatar population in Uzbekistan managed to return home. The possibility of renewed violence against the Crimean Tatars is something that rightfully terrifies many in the community today. Nobody should have to live in such fear. If there are pogroms against the Crimean Tatars then US academics like Stephen Cohen who supported the Russian aggression allowing it should be loudly reminded of this bloodshed on a daily basis until their dying day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ideas anyone?

I have been trying to think about how I can integrate more African themes into my future research and writing. I am looking at this particularly from the viewpoint of sources since I am not too far from the former National Archives of Ghana or as it is officially known today the Public Records and Archives Department (PRAAD). Unfortunately, on my last trip to the archives I was told that nothing from the Foreign Ministry had yet been declassified for the entire existence of the Republic of Ghana since its founding on 6 March 1957. So doing anything related to Ghanaian foreign policy using the archives is simply not possible. Indeed the archives are only complete for the colonial period from 1875 to 1957. I have been told that there is some stuff from the Ministry of Industry available for the period since the achievement of independence, but for the most part the accessible archival record is limited to the colonial era. As a 20th century rather a 19th century historian I am most interested in the history of Leninist socialism in practice. But, there are no such states in Africa until 1974-1975 when Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique come under Leninist governments. Unfortunately their archives are far away and written in Amharic and Portuguese.

Letters of recommendation

For some unknown reason I have a huge number of students coming to ask me to write letters of recommendation. So far this semester it has been about 30. In contrast my colleague in the office next door has had none. I don't understand this. Why are so many students, many of whom only took one class from me, asking me to write them reference letters? It might make sense if they had all earned straight As from me. But, this is not the case either, only some of them fall into this category. Others do not. One student took one class from me and only earned a C+, but still wanted me to write a letter. Some others are in the B to B+ range. Does anybody have any explanation for why I have so many reference requests and my British colleague next door has none? Is it a gender thing? Do students prefer to have letters written by men?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Turkic Peoples of the World

In the winter and spring of 1943-1944, the Stalin regime deported the Karchais, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Crimean Tatars from their homelands to remote areas of the USSR. In total almost 900,000 people. A number of these people including the Crimean Tatars speak languages related to Turkish. Above is an expansive list and depiction of flags of various Turkic peoples of the world including Azerbaijanis, Turkmen, Bashkirs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Chuvash, Karakalpaks, Uighers, Yakuts, and Tuvans.

Mack Sigis Porter - Peace On You (1972)

Probably the best hard rock album ever recorded by a Ghanaian musician.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Africa can and should feed itself.

In line with Thomas Lines, Making Poverty: A History (London: Zed Books, 2008) Africa should definitely strive to again become self-sufficient in food. Import substitution as an agricultural rather than an industrial strategy would greatly help the continent by saving foreign exchange, reorienting trade towards internal integration, and ending the cycle of having to export ever greater amounts of cash crops just to feed the existing population. Tariffs, International Commodity Agreements, and state support for better rural infrastructure can all contribute to this goal. It should be noted that neither China nor India import significantly more food than they export and that this has been due to deliberate policy and is one of the key reasons for their relative economic success in recent decades. In contrast many African countries including Ghana unfortunately import the bulk of their staples including rice, chicken, and vegetables. Accra alone is a huge market for food and it makes no sense for Dutch chicken ranchers and Thai rice farmers to dominate that market at the expense of Ghanaian farmers. Ghana and the rest of Africa can and should feed itself like it once did. There just needs to be the political will power to enact government policies that would encourage increased production of agricultural staples to the point where there is not a net importation of such crops.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Happy International Women's Day

Tomorrow, March Eighth is International Women's Day. It isn't so much a big deal here in Ghana unlike in Kyrgyzstan where it is a huge deal. Even though the holiday was originally an American one it seems to have been most institutionalized in the USSR and other formerly socialist countries. In those states it functions as a combination of Valentines Day and Mothers' Day. Everywhere else the holiday seems to have failed to take any roots.

70 Years Since the Deportation of the Balkars

Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Balkars from their mountainous homeland in the Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government falsely accused the entire Balkar nation of treason during World War II. In fact the decision to deport the Balkars had been reached before this trumped up rationalization had been articulated. The deportation of 37,713 Balkars took a mere two days. The material conditions in the deportation trains and areas of exile in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan proved to be extremely substandard and nearly 8,000 or over 20% died prematurely as a direct result during the next four years. The Soviet government placed the Balkars under special settlement restrictions and later in 1948 declared that their internal exile in the USSR and banishment from their ancestral homeland was "forever."  Fortunately, for the Balkars the Soviet government negated the effects of this last decree in 1957 and allowed them to return back to a restored Karbardino-Balkar ASSR.

Nothing lasts forever

It looks like my blog's fifteen minutes of fame in its ten year period of life is over. The number of hits per a day has gone back to normal after a few days of a couple hundred hits every day on my posts dealing with the Crimean Tatars. I knew it was inevitable that my posts would go back down from hundreds of hits to only a dozen or so, but I thought I might have a couple more days of relative fame. Alas the news cycle is so fast that everybody except me and the Crimean Tatars themselves has now forgotten about them. I probably won't have a lot more posts about them between now and May which is the 70th anniversary of the Stalin regime's mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan and the Urals. I will definitely post something to commemorate that particular crime against humanity. In the meantime I will probably post more on African themes even though I am fully aware that almost nobody on the Internet has much interest in reading blog posts dealing with the continent.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fifty Seven Years of Independence Today

Ghana New Nation, 1957

Ghana got its independence from the UK on 6 March 1957. This film clip from that year which includes a short interview with Kwame Nkrumah conveys the great sense of hope and optimism that engulfed the country back then.

We Celebrate Ghana's Independence Day

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Links to pieces on the history of the Crimean Tatars

A large part of my PhD dissertation dealt with the history of the Crimean Tatars during Soviet rule. Most of the sources I used were in Russian, but here is a short bibliography of books in English I compiled on their history. I also compiled a short brief timeline of the major events in the history of the Crimean Tatars from 1917-1994 that can be found here. The timeline is meant to go along with this conference paper I wrote for the 9th ASN Conference at Columbia University on 17 April 2004. It was later published in Ukrainian Quarterly vol. 60, no. 1-2, Spring/Summer 2004. In addition to my works, a good source of collected scholarly material on the Crimean Tatars can be found here. Despite the media focus on the ethnic Russians and their current demographic majority in the peninsula, it is impossible to properly understand Crimea without understanding the history of its indigenous people.

The Crimean Tatars and the problem of forcibly homogenized nation states

The forced ethnic homogenization of territories characterized much of Europe including Crimea during the 20th century. As I explained to my students here in Africa the ultimate logic of the nation state is a single political state for each ethnic group and no national or ethnic minorities in any state. Or to put it more succinctly, because people had neighbors that spoke different languages than they did they went and expelled or killed their neighbors. Crimea was no stranger to this violence. During World War II Soviet ethnic cleansing and Nazi genocide succeeded in greatly reducing the ethnic diversity of the peninsula. The Germans, Jews, Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Armenians, and Bulgarians all were almost completely eliminated from the territory which became mostly Russian with a Ukrainian minority. Since 1987 some of the people forcibly deported by the Stalin regime and their descendants particularly among the indigenous Crimean Tatars have returned to their ancestral homeland. They unlike many nationalities in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s  have committed themselves to living in a multi-ethnic Crimea as a constituent component of a larger Ukrainian state. Many of the descendants of Russian settlers that took their lands and homes after 1944, however, have not moved beyond the idea of living in ethnically uniform territories and have opposed the return of the Crimean Tatars. Now, the Russian state under Putin has intervened militarily in Crimea on the side of these Russian chauvinists to separate the territory from Ukraine and place it under the political rule of Moscow. The use of partition, expulsion, and genocide to eliminate the "problem" of having neighbors of a different ethnicity has resulted in humanitarian disasters throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is time for people in the 21st century to start thinking beyond the idea of living in ethnically uniform states controlled by people of the exact same cultural background and realize that just because your neighbor speaks a different language or belongs to a different religion does not mean he is your enemy.

Monday, March 03, 2014

An Unexpected Development as a Result of Russia's Invasion of Crimea

In the last few days this blog has been getting a lot more hits than usual. I take it that this is largely as a result of the Russian invasion of Crimea and my recent posts on the Crimean Tatars. So for the first time in almost a decade of existence this blog has received a couple hundred hits every day over a period of a couple of days. I don't expect it to last even if I were to continue to post everyday on Crimea. But, this is the first time ever that I have ever gotten this many hits. I still have no comments, but at least for now I have a few readers. Some of which have also spilled over to my page to read some of the articles I have there on the subject. So now I know the secret to getting blog hits is to be an expert on something related to a huge news story with a historical background that the vast majority of the English reading population of the world know nothing about. Well, no it is actually not quite that simple. It also has to be an issue that doesn't have very many competing sources. The number of people writing on Crimean Tatars now for instance is much smaller than the number of people who were writing about Chechens immediately after the Boston bombings. I would like to be able to permanently keep some of the hundreds of people that have come by to read my recent posts on Crimean Tatars. But, I am not sure if any of them will stick around. None of them have so far commented and other posts are still mostly receiving under a dozen hits a day.

A Funeral in Kwabeng, Akyem

Saturday I went to the funeral of our janitor. It was in Kwabeng in Akyem. I have been to one other funeral in Ghana, but it was in the Greater Accra area. Ghanaian funerals are of great anthropological interest for a variety of reasons, but I am not as enamored of them as some white people. I went mainly to show the deceased's family that I respected him enough to be the only white man to attend his funeral. I did not go to socialize or observe the colorful cultural rituals associated with death and burial among Ghanaian Christians. Nonetheless, Ghanaian funerals are very different from most of those in the US. There is a lot more singing, dancing, and otherwise celebratory activity than most American funerals. It is certainly worth seeing one if possible while in Ghana. After one, however, and the various cultural rituals greatly diminish in impact as one realizes that in fact somebody has died and is being placed under the ground.

Some links to articles on Crimean Tatars and Crimean Germans

If you are cruising around the Internet looking for information on Crimea. Here are two articles of mine that deal with the history of the Crimean Tatars. The first is "The False Charges of Treason against the Crimean Tatars." The second is "The Deportation and Fate of the Crimean Tatars." My article, "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Discrimination in the USSR and Israel" also has some useful material on the history of the Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatars were not the only ethnic group deported by Stalin from Crimea. The territory also had German, Greek, Armenian, and Bulgarian settlements ethnically cleansed by Stalin during World War II. My article, "Volk auf dem Weg: Transnational Migration of the Russian-Germans from 1763 to Present Day" has some information on the history of ethnic Germans in Crimea. A friend of mine e-mailed to me that Soviet historians are now relevant again. I am not so optimistic, but I have noticed that for the first time in a decade my blog seems to be getting hits from real human beings.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Трудовая армия

This documentary out of Omsk on Russian-Germans in the labor army is very good. The film is in Russian with German sub-titles.