Sunday, March 22, 2015

Citations in Journalism, Social Media, and Academia

One of the things I have written about has been the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. For a long time it was a topic, like most of what I have written about, that interested very few people. But, it appears that I do seem to be getting some readers recently. In the last two days I have found this article which cites me, this tweet by a person whose identity completely eludes me, this long drawn out message board debate in Spanish about my second book, and most impressively this academic piece in Russian from a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine's Institute of History of Ukraine on the English language historiography of the Crimean Tatars under Stalin and Khrushchev. So that means that there are at least a few people that I did not know about before who have recently been reading some of the stuff I have written. I realize that I am always going to be an extremely marginal figure in the academic world. But, it is nice to know that the extremity of the marginality is just a tiny bit less than it was before. I would never have dreamed that any historians at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine would ever have heard of me yet alone considered me an important part of the English language historiography on the Crimean Tatars or anything else.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Coffee is African. So why can't I get any at the University of Ghana in Legon?

This picture actually has nothing to do with anything. I just like it. Unfortunately, there is no place on campus where you can get real coffee. All they have is that nasty Nescafe stuff that is made in a laboratory and has no real actual coffee beans in it. I am not sure why this is since Nkrumah was a strong Pan-Africanist and coffee comes from the oldest state in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia. But, every time I bring up this argument as to why they should serve me real coffee and not Nescafe people look at me like I am the craziest obruni they have ever seen. However, I am quite positive that Ghana can not hold out forever as the only country in the world still serving horrible artificial instant coffee instead of authentic real coffee.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


71 Years since the Deportation of the Balkars

Today is the 71st anniversary of the deportation of the Balkars from their homeland in the Caucasus to Kazkhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Stalin regime falsely accused the Balkars of mass treason and used this pretext to disperse them across the vast expanse of Central Asia. In total the NKVD loaded a recorded 37,713 Balkar men, women, and children onto 14 train echelons bound east during 8-9 March 1944. Like other mass deportations, the forced eviction of the Balkars coincided with a major Soviet holiday. In this case International Women's Day. The Balkars spent the next twelve years living under the special settlement regime as second class citizens.  During the first eight years they suffered over 7,000 excess premature deaths due to the harsh material conditions of their exile. The Soviet government only released the Balkars from the special settlement restrictions on 28 April 1956. After 1957, the Soviet government finally allowed the surviving deported Balkars and their children to return home to the Caucasus.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Academic Publishing

I have reached the point where I take it as a victory if a big name academic journal sends my manuscript out to peer reviewers rather than the editor rejecting it outright for arbitrary reasons. So I have cause today for a small celebration to coincide with Ghanaian Independence Day. Of course I have no hope that the peer reviewers will approve the piece for publication. But, the last piece I sent out was a lot more controversial and the peer review reports were not hostile. I found that extremely surprising. So I am banking on that.

Happy Independence Day Ghana

Thursday, March 05, 2015

62 Years Since Stalin Died and His Regime is more Popular now than anytime since 1956

It has been 62 years since Stalin died. Despite knowing now more than ever about the crimes of his regime, Stalin is more popular than at anytime since Khrushchev denounced some of his crimes at the 20th Party Congress in 1956. The Perm-36 GULag camp has now been seized by the state.  No longer is it a museum dedicated to the victims of political repression under the Stalin regime. Instead it has been converted  into one celebrating the guards and other workers in the penal apparatus. The rehabilitation of Stalin's regime in the former USSR and other places has been going on for a while now. But, if you had told me in the 1980s at a time when Europe from Berlin to Baku was eagerly shaking off the yoke of Soviet rule that Stalinism would be undergoing a full rehabilitation from Madison to Moscow I would have thought you nuts. However, it turns out that the tepid attempts by Khrushchev at destalinization completely failed to take any root in Russia or Central Asia. 

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Speech on 6th march 1957 at the independence square

Hppy Independence Day to Ghana.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boris Nemtsov murdered in Moscow

Reports from Moscow are noting that opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has reportedly been shot and killed by four bullets to the chest while out walking. This is the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report on the murder.

RIP Leonard Nimoy

Most people will remember the late Leonard Nimoy for his iconic role as Spock in the first Star Trek franchise. Indeed, reruns of that show were where I first remember seeing Nimoy's acting. But, I think my favorite Nimoy related show might have been In Search Of one of the very first documentary series on paranormal events. Nimoy was an important cultural figure for those of us who grew up in the 1970s because despite other models of coolness there was no way you could get any cooler than Spock.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Die Wolhyniendeutschen

This is my ethnic heritage on my father's side.

Today is the 71st anniversary of the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush

Today is the 71st anniversary of the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush. To celebrate Red Army Day in 1944, the NKVD systematically deported almost the entire Chechen and Ingush populations from their mountain homeland in the Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. There they lived under severe legal restrictions and in dire poverty. As a result of the extremely poor material conditions in their new places of settlement over 145,000 died prematurely before the end of 1952. Only in 1957 did the Soviet government restore the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and sanction the return home of the deportees and their children.