Friday, May 24, 2013
I have now finished grading all 193 students I had in my four classes this semester. Next semester I only have two classes to teach so it will be a lot less work during test time. At least this year I got them done early so I am not stressing out at the last minute trying to get them all done.
Monday was the 40th anniversary of the beginning of armed struggle for independence for Western Sahara. The struggle began against Spain on 20 May 1973 and continued against Morocco until 6 September 1991 when a ceasefire was signed between Rabat and the Polisario. Sahrawis under occupation in the towns of Smara and Bjdor organized demonstrations to commemorate the event. The demonstration in Bjdor, however, was violently dispersed by Moroccan security forces. This follows on the decision by the UN Security Council this month to reauthorize the peace keeping forces in Western Sahara, but without any mandate to monitor human rights violations. The UN peace keeping force in the Western Sahara, MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) is now the only such existing force without authority from the Security Council to monitor human rights.
There have been a whole string of recent protests in Togo involving women wearing red and in some cases baring their breasts. As I mentioned earlier unlike in Europe female public nudity is not a casual affair in West Africa. Its presence means that the women are really, really, really angry. There has also been some violence by youths against property associated with some of the demonstrations. A car was lit on fire and some windows smashed. But, for the most part the protests have remained nonviolent. Yesterday, the Togolese security forces again responded to peaceful demonstrations with violence by firing tear gas into a crowd of protesters.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I am finishing things off here for the semester. I have graded all my exams and entered all my grades except for one class at City Campus that I am still waiting on. I hope the scripts arrive soon. I need to have everything wrapped up here for the semester in the next two weeks.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Today is the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Qbaada Meadow (Kransaia Poliana) in which the Russian Imperial army finally defeated the Circassians and proceeded with the final mass deportation of the population into the Ottoman Empire. While many scholars place the first modern genocide in Armenia in 1915 and others in Namibia during 1904-1907, I think a good case can be argued that 1863-64 in Circassia deserves this distinction. Today is the day that Circassians around the world commemorate the massive expulsion of most of their population from their ancestral homeland in the Caucasus into the various territories of the Ottoman Empire. According to Walt Richmond out of some 1.5 million Circassians in 1860 over 600,000 or more than a third perished as a direct result of this forced dispersal.
Monday, May 20, 2013
This card used by police in the USSR to identify different nationalities by facial phenotypes is further evidence of my contention that natsional'nost in the USSR often served the exact same function as race. Indeed often as in the case of this card the only difference is the word being used. Distinguishing between groups of people based upon a perceived physical appearance inherited due to a particular ancestry is indeed a central component of racial classification. The fact that people like Francine Hirsch and Amir Weiner want to deny that this is racism by claiming that natsional'nost or ethnicity or whatever other word they use instead of race is not race does not change this fact.
My article "Hewers of Water and Drawers of Water: the Russian-Germans in the Labour Army" has now been translated into Spanish by Jorge Bohn. The Spanish title is "Lenadores y Accareadores de Aqua: Los Ruso-Alemanes en el Ejercito de Trabajo." You can find it for download on the FB page Collctividad Wolgadeutsche - Alemanes del Volga.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Yesterday there was another demonstration in Togo against the dictatorship there. This time a number of women stripped naked as part of the protests. These were not young women, but rather mothers and grandmothers and there was nothing erotic about the brief film clip I saw of the demonstration. It as well as some still photographs can be seen at the FB page Liberte pour Togo-Freiheit fuer Togo. In West African society female public nudity is taboo and the tactic of the naked demonstration is viewed as a way of shaming the dictatorship. I haven't been able to find any news stories on it yet so I have no idea what impact the demonstration has had. But, for a West African government to be subjected to such a demonstration is a sign of extreme discontent. Another general demonstration against the regime involving both men and women, but presumably wearing all their clothes is scheduled for 21 May 2013. The demonstrations against the regime in Togo have been getting more frequent, more extreme, and more angry.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The International Committee for Crimea has a number of my pieces on the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Among them is my very first academic conference paper which I delivered at Columbia University in 2000. It also has this timeline of the history of the Crimean Tatars from 1917-1994 and another conference paper given at Columbia in 2004 as I was finishing my dissertation. Finally, the abstract to my dissertation itself which has a lengthy section on the Crimean Tatars.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This Saturday is the 69th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their peninsular homeland on the Black Sea to the deserts of Uzbekistan and the wet forests of the Urals. The NKVD rounded up almost the entire population and took them to rail stations where they were stuffed like cattle into box cars. In three days over 180,000 people had been expelled from their homes and sent on a long and arduous journey eastward. The official reason for the deportation was the false charges of treason brought against the whole population by the Stalin regime. However, the number of Crimean Tatars that fought with the Germans, about 10,000, was quite small compared to a number of other nationalities that were not subject to wholesale deportation. Upon arriving in Uzbekistan and the Urals the Crimean Tatars were placed under special settlement restrictions. On 26 November 1948, the Soviet government decreed the deportations and special settlement restrictions to be forever. The death of Stalin on 5 March 1953 brought about an eventual end of the special settlement regime and on 28 April 1956 the Soviet government freed the Crimean Tatars from these restrictions. They, however, were not allowed to return to Crimea in any significant numbers until 1987 near the very end of the Soviet regime. Even today they still face obstacles to resettling in their homeland and nearly 100,000 still remain in Uzbekistan.
For further reading see this bibliography.