Thursday, October 25, 2012
I have now finished editing my piece, "Is there a Black Eurasia? Ghanaian and other Diasporic Populations in the USSR in Comparative Perspective." I now need some suggestions about what to write next. I have been working a little bit on a piece with no publisher yet again comparing the special settlement regime in the USSR with apartheid in South Africa. In addition to the actual practices it also looks at the similarities in Soviet and South African ethnos theory. Although given the difficulty I had finding a peer reviewed journal willing to publish my last such comparative piece I think I should also line up an article on another topic. The official orthodox line of scholars of Soviet nationality policies established by Francine Hirsch is that the mass deportations of entire ethnic groups in the USSR and placing them under special settlement restrictions were not acts of racial discrimination. Their sole argument being that ethnicity is not race and biology is not culture. This puts most historians of the USSR at complete odds with the definition of racial discrimination enshrined in international law and people researching ethnicity and race in the rest of the world. The 1965 ICERD and scholars of race and ethnicity like Malik, Rex, Balibar, Fredrickson, Dubnow, Tilley, Weitz, and others have repeatedly pointed out that ethnicity can be racialized and racial categories can be constructed along cultural rather than biological lines. But, if you try and apply the definition of racial discrimination in the ICERD and espoused by people like Rex and Fredrickson to the USSR you get lots and lots of vicious peer review rejections. The majority view among people dealing with Soviet nationality policies is apparently that Hirsch is correct and race can only be constructed along genetic and biological lines. They therefore conclude that there was no official racial discrimination by the Stalin regime against groups such as Koreans, Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, Crimean Tatars, and others. Getting through such ideological gate keepers takes a couple of years now. So in addition to another article comparing the Soviet special settlement regime and South African apartheid I need something I can get published a little bit faster.