Thursday, December 01, 2016
Tomorrow I finish up my week on Kurds in the USSR for my History of the Middle East class. Unlike some other diaspora nationalities in the Soviet Union such as the Koreans and Germans the NKVD only deported a minority of the Kurds living in the Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Central Asia in 1937 and 1944. The first wave of deportees from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan effected a little over 3,000 Kurds and the second from Georgia to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan entailed the uprooting of almost 9,000 Kurds. So close to 12,000 Kurds from the Caucasus initally ended up as special settlers out of a population of 76,000 (1939 census figure) in the USSR as a whole. The NKVD deported the Kurds in Georgia along with the Meskhetian (Ahiska) Turks and Hemshins. The three nationalities formed a single contingent on the NKVD rolls listing special settlers. This makes sorting out the exact number of Kurds condemned to be special settlers at any time after the initial deportation difficult. It is certain, however, that in addition to high mortality rates from 1944-1948 that a large number of Kurdish special settlers got reclassified as Turks or Azerbaijanis during the 1940s and 1950s.
Monday, November 28, 2016
The other day I gave a lecture on Kurds in the USSR to my History of the Middle East class. Tomorrow we will return to the subject. The Kurds in the Caucasus and Central Asia during the Soviet era make an interesting case study in Soviet nationalities policies. Soviet polices ranged from favorable ones such as creating a "Red Kurdistan" territory in Azerbaijan and various Kurdish language institutions to negative ones such as the mass deportations from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 1937 and from Georgia in 1944 to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.The swing from granting Kurds in the Caucasus the benefits of korenizatsiia to deporting a substantial number of them to Kazakhstan and Central Asia as special settlers is typical of the range of Soviet policies towards many smaller nationalities in the USSR during the reign of Stalin. But, their position as a diaspora of a large concentrated population in the Middle East makes the interaction of Soviet internal and external policies towards the Kurds particularly interesting. Even more so than Soviet policy towards Jews the overall pattern of the Soviet position towards the Kurds as a whole was ambiguous, fragmented, and contradictory over time. At the same time Kurds deported from Azerbaijan and Georgia suffered horrible material conditions and strict legal restrictions as special settlers in Kazakhstan and Central Asia the Soviet government helped the short lived Kurdish Mahabad Republic in Iran and granted sanctuary to Mustafa Barzani and 500 of his armed followers. Ultimately, however, the USSR never played a major role after the collapse of the Mahabad Republic in supporting any of the Kurdish nationalist movements including the Marxist-Leninist PKK fighting against Turkey, a member of NATO. Instead the PKK's major state sponsor was Syria.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
"Soviet Apartheid: Stalin's Ethnic Deportations, Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army: The Case of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR." The next piece, "The Relative Failure of German Togoland as Model Cotton Colony" I wrote with Felix Longi. The next piece I published was "Is there a Black Eurasia? Ghanaian and other African Diasporic Populations in the USSR in Comparative Perspective." The final piece is "Nkrumah, the Cold War, 'The Third World', and the US Role in the 24 February 1966 Coup." It is true that my scholarly output dealing with Africa is very modest. But, I arrived in Africa in January 2011 knowing only that I knew almost nothing about the continent and taught myself at the school of hard knocks.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
If anybody is looking for something to read not related to the elections I have put up the text of the book chapter I co-authored with Felix Longi on Cotton in German Togoland. J. Otto Pohl and Felix Y.T. Longi, "The Relative Failure of German Togoland as a Model Cotton Colony" in Wazi Apoh and Bea Lundt (eds.) Germany and its West African Colonies: "Excavations" of German Colonialism in Post-Colonial Times, (Munster: Lit Verlag, 2013) is now up on my academia.edu page. Feel free to leave any comments on the article here.