Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
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
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.
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.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
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.
Monday, March 03, 2014
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.
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 Academia.edu 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.
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.
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.