Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Institute of African Studies, and the History Department

Today I went to see the ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco give a donation to the Institute of African Studies for a project that is clearly focused on historical research. This is something that has occurred repeatedly. The Institute of African Studies has regularly gotten huge donations from various donors including corporations like Guinness while the History Department has gotten absolutely nothing, not a single peswa since I have been here. All of the money for history research gets sent to the historians working in the Institute of African Studies and none goes to the historians in the History Department. I am not sure why this extreme imbalance of funding exits. But, if you are interested in historical projects refusing to provide any funds to the History Department and the lecturers that work there does not seem like the most logical strategy. On the other hand success which is only measured in terms of money in today's global capitalist economy attracts more money and monopolizes it. So it appears we are locked into a typical neo-colonial pattern whereby all the donations by foreign governments, corporations, and rich individuals for historical projects all go to the Institute of African Affairs forever and none will ever go to the History Department.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ghanaian Brain Drain

The greatest resource Ghana has is educated people. It is also the one that they consistently lose to foreign countries. Despite the recent events in Ferguson, NYC, and other places the US is still the number one choice of countries for Ghanaians to live in. Almost every Ghanaian I have ever talked to has said they would prefer to live in the US than Africa. The main reason all 26 million people have not left Ghana to live in the US is that the US embassy here denies the vast majority of applicants visas. But, among the highly educated minority of Ghanaians with PhDs or MDs a very large number of them have emigrated to either the US, Canada, or Europe. The US being their preferred destination over places like Norway or Canada by a very large margin. The average assistant professor at a prestigious university in the US makes about $100,000 a year versus about $15,000 a year for lecturers at Ghana's flagship university. Given this difference in compensation any Ghanaian who can get a job in the US teaching at a university is going to permanently emigrate rather than stay and teach in Ghana. This difference of $85,000 a year makes up for an unlimited amount of cold weather, lack of fufu, and even lethal racism. An even greater discrepancy exists regarding the salaries of doctors. Of course the Ghanaian government has only itself to blame for this exodus. It is the one paying extremely low salaries to public employees compared to even other African states such as Nigeria or South Africa.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Palestinian Christians

The reason the Israelis deny the Palestinians their civil, national, and human rights is simply because they are not Jewish. This includes the Christian minority of Palestinians as well as the Muslim majority. Of course it is extremely politically incorrect among the people who dominate US discourse to talk about Jews persecuting Christians. It is something that is said to never have ever existed. Indeed there is a double negation of Palestinian Christians by US "progressives" both as Palestinians and as Christians. They are deemed by "progressives" to be a reactionary, patriarchal, and homophobic people both because of their Arabness and their Christianity. While US radicals supported every type of revolutionary guerrilla movement in Vietnam, Central America, and Southern Africa they did not support the PFLP under George Habbash, a Palestinian Christian. In this case they unconditionally supported Israel, something that can still be seen in the extremist anti-Palestinian position of people like the current mayor New York City and Senator Elizabeth Warren, neither who even have the excuse of being Jewish. The radical US "progressive" position of supporting the ongoing destruction of the indigenous Muslim and Christian society of Palestine as represented by people like Senator Warren is not likely to change any time soon. But, many of us on the  right have supported the struggle of the Palestinians since 1948 in opposition to the "progressive" position represented by people like de Blasio and Warren.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Trying to do Comparative History

I am admittedly not trained in African history. Nonetheless, I have been trying to write some comparative Soviet and African history pieces. In particular I see some strong parallels between South African apartheid and the special settlement regime imposed upon deported nationalities by Stalin. I have managed to get one journal article published on this subject. My article, "Soviet Apartheid: Stalin's Ethnic Deportations, Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army," Human Rights Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (2012) can be found here.  I have a second one I have been working on. It faces a couple of problems. Some of these are my own fault. One is that I know an awful lot more about Soviet history and the special settlement regime than I know about South African history. But, there is also the fact that a lot US academics seem to think that nothing Stalin did including the deportation of whole nationalities to deadly areas of the USSR and putting them under severe movement and residency restrictions can be compared to South Africa . They either reject the idea that racism could ever exist in the USSR or insist that Stalin's treatment of people like the Volga Germans and Crimean Tatars was far more benign than Pretoria's treatment of its Black population. For all its faults the apartheid regime in South Africa was far less murderous than the Stalin regime and to hold up Pretoria as infinitely morally worse than Stalin seems to me to be extremely problematic. But, of course my extreme minority ideas like this are what got me exiled to Africa in the first place.

Monday, December 08, 2014

"Three Worlds"

I like this map to the right dividing the world into the "First World", "Second World", and "Third World." Primarily, because it does so mainly on a political and not an economic basis. The "First World" here is depicted as the US, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Rhodesia. The "Second World" is the USSR, Eastern Europe, Cuba, China, Mongolia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The "Third World" is the rest of the world including all of Latin America outside of Cuba, all of Africa minus South Africa and Rhodesia, the Middle East, and the parts of Asia not already listed as parts of the "First" and "Second" worlds. I am guessing this maps is supposed to represent the world sometime around the late 1970s since it has all of Indochina listed as part of the "Second World" while Rhodesia is still in the "First World." Despite being a better map than most it still has some problems. If "Second World" is to include all socialist states regardless of economic development then Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique should be colored as "Second World" and not "Third World" states. Likewise if "First World" means US ally then Turkey, South Korea, the Philippines, and other Middle Eastern and Asian states with close military alliances with the US during the Cold War should be colored as "First World" states and not as part of the "Third World." The actual states of the "Third World" were those genuinely non-aligned states such as India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Algeria, and Zambia.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Crimean Tatars and Palestinians

In 2014 two events happened that demonstrated the continuing historical parallels between the Palestinians and the Crimean Tatars. These were the renewed Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea followed by a new wave of persecution by the Russian occupation authorities against the indigenous Crimean Tatars. In the 20th Century the history of the Crimean Tatars and Palestinians had followed similar paths of dispossession and political mobilization organized around the principle of returning to their ancestral homelands.  The ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 and the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 both followed familiar strategies of forcibly removing indigenous populations from designated territories. In both cases the victimized group was forcibly rounded up and transported against their will to alien lands ill prepared to receive them and permanently lost most of their property including their homes, farms, cemeteries, and mosques. In the process the perpetrators used a great deal of violence including massacres such as what happened at Deir Yassin in Palestine and the Arabat Strip in Crimea. Finally, strict measures were undertaken by both the Israelis and Soviets to prevent the return of the deported populations to their places of origin. The similarities are not entirely coincidental since the Soviet deportation of whole nationalities including the Crimean Tatars was an admitted source of inspiration for the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.  Conversely the situation of the Palestinians and Soviet support for their position became known and was used as a rhetorical tool against the Soviet government in the 1970s by the Crimean Tatars. The very active, but completely peaceful, Crimean Tatar national movement in the USSR compared the plight of the Crimean Tatars living in exile in Uzbekistan to that of the Palestinians and pointed out the hypocrisy of the Soviet government in this matter. While the comparison between the Palestinians and the Crimean Tatars has been made in passing in a large amount of scholarly literature, more in depth examinations of the parallels between the two nationalities has remained extremely limited. My short  article "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel," Human Rights Review, April-June 2006 remains the only published academic journal article focusing on the similarities and differences between the two cases. I have toyed with the idea of writing another article on the subject in light of more recent events. But, I really don't have anything new to say despite the passage of over eight years. It would be nice though if somebody with more access to the relevant sources than myself, however, did write an extended and updated comparison of the two situations.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Nearing the end of the Semester Again

The semester is coming to an end. As far as teaching goes I think this semester was pretty successful. It certainly seems like these were the best and brightest students I have ever taught. But, maybe I am just so tired from waking up at 4 am to teach them that I can't tell.