Friday, October 02, 2015

Crimean Tatars and settler colonialism

The Crimean Tatars share a number of similarities with other forcibly displaced indigenous people subjected to racial discrimination during the last few centuries such as Native Americans, Black South Africans, and Palestinian Arabs. The people who dominate the study of Soviet nationality policies in the US like Francine Hirsch and Amir Weiner, however, militantly deny that there was ever anything racist about Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other peoples. In part because of this systematic denial of Soviet racism in defense of the Stalin regime there has been almost no attempt by scholars in the Western world to compare the history of the Crimean Tatars with that of indigenous people victimized by settler colonialism in places like South Africa. This is one area where I think non-Western scholars should take the lead and work independently of the established Western orthodoxy. There are ideological reasons why people like Hirsch and Weiner defend the USSR from the charges of racism and genocide. But, those ideological reasons don't exist in Africa and Asia where the similarities between Soviet treatment of the Crimean Tatars and other cases of settler colonialism should be obvious. Not being tied by the ideological constraints that exist in US academia I believe that scholars in Africa and Asia can research these type of areas much more effectively despite their lack of resources.

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