Saturday, December 31, 2005

Things to look forward to next year

This blog will continue to cover items of interest to me, my family, friends and hopefully even one or two strangers in the next year. I don't expect my core group of half a dozen readers to grow too much in the next twelve months. My readership seems to have been pretty stable the last couple of months. Among the topics that I will cover here in the next few months are Arivacanese folk ways, the Great Job Hunt, Stalinist repression and Guru work.

Regarding Arivacanese culture I would like to blog more about music. I have not been able to see much of Arivaca's musical night life yet. I am hoping that when Chris returns from the Land of Frozen Lakes he can give me a lift to some of the evening concerts here. Otherwise I am going to have to start my own concert series in the Chicken Shack.

The job hunt is going to undergo a major reorientation next year. I have now wasted a big chunk of two years applying for jobs for which I realistically had no chance of even getting an interview. I can not say that I did not receive multiple warnings that my research topics were ideologically incompatible with the ruling powers in American academia. As recently as my last trip to London my friend Abdulhadi told me that using my article "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel" as my writing sample pretty much guaranteed that no US university would ever hire me. In retrospect it appears he was right.

I am going to continue my Human Cost of Communism series. I will put up a new post in the series once every week until it is finished. Right now it looks like it will have 15 posts total. I will also mark each of the major Soviet ethnic deportations throughout the year on their anniversaries. That is another dozen or so posts.

Finally, I remain committed to the idea of transmitting knowledge, a practice now evidently banned at US universities. Guru Pohl renews his vow to help all seekers of knowledge free of charge in the upcoming year. So far my students have been very satisfied with my teachings.

Boots Make the Man

The cowboy boots my uncle got me for Christmas arrived in the mail today. It was difficult to find a place that made boots my size. These boots fit perfectly. Now I have the full set of Arivaca regalia. I have the cowboy hat, the cowboy boots, the tie-dye shirt and the beard.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Life in Arivaca

Today I met the woman who made my tie-dye shirts. Here in Arivaca the tie-dye shirt is one of the most common elements of local fashion. My uncle and I were at the coffee shop on our way back from the dump and post office. In line in front of us to purchase coffee was a woman holding a small puppy. I was wearing a tie-dye shirt. The woman recognized her work and thanked me for purchasing it. People in Arivaca are much nicer and more polite than in the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Human Cost of Communism Part IV

During the years 1937-1938, the Soviet government engaged in a series of campaigns against perceived enemies of the state that resulted in hundreds of thousands of executions. Known as the Great Terror or Great Purges this blood letting constituted the majority of death sentences under Soviet rule. Between 1921 to 1953, a total of 799,455 people tried by Soviet police organs (Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKVD and MVD) received death sentences. The NKVD issued a full 681,692 of these sentences in 1937 and 1938. Over a third of these executions came from the national operations aimed at eliminating agents of specified foreign powers. The "German Operation", "Polish Operation", "Finnish Operation", "Latvian Operation" and similar campaigns accounted for 247,157 death sentences. These executions fell heavily upon Soviet citizens belonging to extra territorial nationalities. These groups constituted only 1.7% of the population of the USSR, but accounted for over a quarter of all arrests and executions during the Great Terror.

The figure for executions is of course incomplete. It only includes executions approved by NKVD boards. It does not include NKVD executions by decree such as those at Katyn, Rivne, Lviv, Lutsk, Tallinn, Tartu, Kharkhiv and other areas in 1940 and 1941. Other Soviet records for instance register the execution of 21,257 Polish prisoners in accordance with a 5 March 1940 decree signed by Beria. The German military later uncovered the bodies of the 4,421 of these detainees shot at Katyn. These executions are not part of the recorded total cited in the paragraph above. The figure also does not include death sentences handed down by regular courts rather than the NKVD. Nor does it include the mass shootings of Soviet soldiers accused of desertion in 1941. In total the Stalin regime probably executed close to one million people, the vast majority of them for alleged political crimes.

Figures cited are found in the works below.

J. Otto Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997), pp. 7-9.

Terry Martin, An Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (London: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp.338-339.

G.C. Malcher, Blank Pages: Soviet Genocide Against the Polish People (Surrey: Pryford Press, 1991), p. 168.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just another day in paradise

Not much is happening in these few days between Christmas and New Years. For the most part things are going really well. The weather is fantastic. I have no outstanding deadlines. Finally, on the positive side of the ledger I am totally isolated from the rest of the world's problems.

For some reason the internet is only allowing me online in the hours between 1 am and 7 am in the morning. This is a little bit irritating. But, it turns out I am not missing a whole lot. I get on average one real e-mail a day. Increasingly, I am finding most other people's blogs to be rather uninteresting right now. Currently, the only ones I have been avidly following are those of fellow Arivacanese bloggers Chris, Sara and Kristin. I know Kristin lives in Estonia, but she is spiritually Arivacanese. Everybody in Arivaca came from somewhere else, but they were Arivacanese before they got here. Some like myself just did not know it.

Come 2006 I think I am going to have to come up with a new job search strategy. Obviously there is no hope of me getting an academic job in the US. I wasted a lot of time and effort this year on stupid applications that never had a chance of garnering an interview. American academics only hire clones of themselves. But, I will leave the hard thinking about creating income out of a Ph.D. in Oriental history to next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Operation Ulusy

Today in 1943, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree with the title "On Liquidating the Kalmyk ASSR and Founding the Astrakhan Oblast as a Component of the RSFSR." The decree accused the Kalmyks of mass treason against the Soviet Union and ordered, "1. All Kalmyks living in the territory of the Kalmyk ASSR are to be resettled to other regions of the USSR, and the Kalmyk ASSR liquidated." The following day the NKVD and NKGB began implementing this decree.

Code named "Operation Ulusy" the deportation of virtually all Kalmyks from the Kalmyk ASSR took place during 28-29 December 1943. Nearly 3,000 NKVD and NKGB officers along with over 1,200 NKVD internal troops loaded over 93,000 Kalmyks into cattle cars bound for Siberia. Due to the overcrowded conditions and lack of bathing facilities during transit many deportees became infected with typhus. This disease resulted in a high death rate during the journey. The NKVD itself recorded over 1,250 deaths during transit. Mortality due to poverty related diseases only increased upon arriving in Siberia.

The Soviet government originally dispersed the survivors across Omsk Oblast, Altai Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Novosibirsk Oblast as well as a couple thousand in Kazakhstan. The Stalin regime placed them under special settlement restrictions and assigned them to work on collective farms, state farms, forestry enterprises and industrial artels. Later the Soviet government relocated thousands of Kalmyk special settlers to forestry work in Tomsk Oblast and fishing trusts in Tiumen and Sakhalin oblasts. In exile the Kalmyks lived and labored under extremely difficult conditions. They lacked adequate food, winter clothing, proper shelter and other necessities. In early January 1945, one NKVD report to Beria noted that some 28,000 exiled Kalmyks had no food. Lack of proper sanitation and medical care led to the spread of often fatal epidemics among the deportees. Tuberculosis in particular proved to be a major killer of the Kalmyks exiled to Siberia. Before the end of 1948, the NKVD had registered over 17,000 deaths among the deported Kalmyks. This incredible demographic loss took the Kalmyks decades to make up. Only in the 1970 Soviet census did the Kalmyk population exceed the number counted in 1939 and then only by a little more than 2%.

The Soviet government only released the Kalmyks from the special settlment regime on 17 March 1956. On 11 February 1957, the Soviet government created a Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast in the traditional Kalmyk homeland and allowed the survivors of the deportation and their descendants to return home. On 29 July 1958, the Soviet government upgraded the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast to the Kalmyk ASSR. Neither the Soviet government or the Russian Federation have done much to recognize or come to terms with this horrific crime against humanity.

Academic Relatives

This does not refer to blood relatives I have that work in academia. Although I did have one second cousin who taught at Oxford and my father held positions at University of Queensland and Virginia Tech. No it refers to people with the same lineage of supervisors as me. The Little Professor had a blog post that dealt with this subject a while ago. At anyrate this lineage at one time had great importance. It no longer has any practical influence. If it was still important I would be working at a first rate university now. My Doktorgrossvater is Rashid Khalidi. Unfortunately the days when my supervisor could call up Professor Khalidi and get me a job are long gone.

I bring this up because I got an e-mail today from my Doktorschwester in Turkey. I get so little real e-mail that I can almost justify a blog post for each separate piece. She is the only one of six academic siblings I even know. She started the year before me and finished the year after me. The e-mail, however, reminded me of the post at The Little Professor and got me thinking about the idea of academic lineages. My supervisor did not have alot of influence upon my dissertation. He is an Ottoman historian specializing in 19th century education and I wrote about Soviet deportations. They assigned me to him because two of the three deported peoples in my dissertation had been associated with the Ottoman Empire prior to coming under Russian rule. He pretty much gave me a free hand in writing the thesis. So there is not any geneology of intellectual influence that can be traced from my work back through my supervisor to Khalidi.

Geneological charts, however, have two directions. They show descendants as well as ancestors. Now it is true I do not have any formal students as official advisees to carry on my scholastic genes. Guru Pohl, however, does have a number of informal students whose work does show his influence. In the future I hope to be able to map a huge intellectual dynasty with numerous descendants.

Monday, December 26, 2005

300th Post

This is my 300th post just in time for Boxing Day. Feel free to print it out and box it up for your servants. I have a feeling my half dozen readers probably don't have many servants, but one never knows. We had one slice of the traditional Christmas pizza to box up. But, we don't have any servants here on the ranch. We don't even have an Estonian toad shepherd, the most important of all OTM workers for the super elite of Arivaca. Well at least we don't have to put up with labor unrest from humans. We get enough wildcat strikes from the machinery here, especially the internet connection.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Brian Williams Update: DHS visit was a hoax

It turns out that the story about the student being visited by DHS agents was a hoax. When Brian Williams tried to clarify the story, it and the student fell apart. He really should not have lied to Brian. I find dishonesty to be quite distasteful. Dr. Williams is one of the few honest people in American academia and trying to make a him party to a hoax shows that the still unamed student is seriously lacking in moral character. Had the story been real Brian would have gone to bat for him.

Today was a very good day

Well today I started my little Christmas break. I got confirmation this morning from Austin that the book editor had received my revised book chapter in good order. My uncle and I got a package of gifts from my folks in California. Now there are some packages under that replica of Charley Brown's Christmas tree my uncle dug up and put in the living room. I talked to my father and he is making a very good recovery. The weather today was fantastic. I spent the afternoon outside in the hookah lounge. Today's flavor was mint. It was even warm enough at night that I could grill Arivaca wings outside again. Yes, today was a very good day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New addition to blogroll

I have added Nathanael D. Robinson's Rhine River to my list of linked blogs. He is a graduate student specializing in continental European history, particularly the border region between Germany and France. He replaces the link to the now apparently dead Lonely Londoner blog.

Some Good News for Christmas

In the last couple weeks I have gotten a few pieces of good news. First, I finally finished revising my book chapter for the project in DC and sent it off. I sent a "carbon copy" to Austin as well just to make sure somebody in charge receives it. I have been having trouble connecting to the internet again. The original complaint made in the declarations of Mesilla and Tucson about lack of adequate communication infrastructure in southern Arizonza has never been properly addressed. But, then again neither has the complaint about failure to secure the border. However, it has only been 144 years so I am sure they will get to it soon. Second, the graduate student I helped with a research paper earlier this month got an A on the paper and in the class. I just got a thank you note from him. Finally, most importantly, my father's bypass surgery this week was a success. He and my mother will not be able to make it out to the ranch for Christmas because of it. But, I am very glad they found the blocked arteries and bypassed them before he had a heart attack. The population of Serenity Ranch wishes Dr. Pohl Sr. a very speedy recovery.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank you notes and deportations

Today I got two thank you notes in my e-mail. The first one was from a student that asked me for assistance on researching deported peoples in the USSR. I sent him an 11 page bibliography to start off. Unfortunately, I have not been able to come up with the next step to help this student. On the off chance that one of my few readers might be able to help in this matter I am going to throw out what I need right here. The student will be going to Uzbekistan soon and would like to meet with a representative of the Crimean Tatar community there. At one time I thought I had the contact details for Ali Hanzim in Yangiyul, but I can not find anything in my files. So if anybody has a contact among the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan that would be willing to talk to this student, please let me know. The student speaks Russian.

The other thank you note I got was from Vladimir German and his family. I wrote a report on the history of persecution of Russian-Germans in Kazakhstan that helped win them political asylum after DHS initially denied their claim. They denied the claim after the family had been in the US for 13 years with a pending application. During that time they learned English, held jobs, never violated US law and purchased a house. Had they been sent back they would have faced official discrimination for being descended from German immigrants to the Russian Empire and hence not ethnic Kazakhs. The two children for instance would have certainly been denied university education had they been deported. My Ph.D. did not give me any more knowledge than I probably would have had already. But, it did give me credibility with the judge and helped save four people from being sent back to a place that had done nothing to make itself inclusive of its German minority and much to make them second class citizens. So even if I never get an academic job I can always say that my degree helped save four very nice people from deportation to Kazakhstan and the misery it would have entailed. That puts me four people above all the hypocritical "anti-racist" academics who have never saved anybody from racial discrimination in their life.

Human Cost of Communism part III

The most famous institution of Stalinist repression is undoubtedly the Gulag a word formed from the acronym for Main Administration of Camps in Russian. Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago published in 1973 popularized the term in the US and Europe. In popular use the term Gulag refers to the system of corrective labor camps (ITLs) and corrective labor colonies (ITKs) under Stalin. Due to substandard living conditions including poor housing, insufficient nutrition, physically demanding and dangerous labor, lack of proper sanitation and routine brutality by guards and other inmates this system killed a very large number of people. The figures for deaths from these causes in the Gulag are incomplete. They do not include deaths during transit or people who died shortly after being released from the camps for instance. The practice of releasing prisoners on the verge of deaths from the camps was fairly common.

The total number of recorded fatalities in ITLs and ITKs from 1930 to 1956 is 1,606,748 according to SANO (GULag medical department). A full 1,053,829 of these deaths took place in ITLs from 1934 to 1953. Since these figures are incomplete it is not far fetched to assume that the actual number of deaths due to incarceration in the USSR during this time is significantly higher. How much higher is a matter of speculation. Anne Applebaum suggests that the figure should be nearly doubled to 3 million to take into account unrecorded deaths.

Further discussions of the numbers involved in the Gulag can be found in the following works.

Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History (NY: Doubleday, 2003).

Oleg V. Khlevniuk, A History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror (Yale University Press, 2004).

J. Otto Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Interesting Fact I Learned Today

Not all the French Resistance was French. A number of fighters in the French underground were Moroccan Arabs who had been stationed in France as part of French organized colonial units prior to the German invasion. I had never thought about the role of people from North Africa and other French colonies in the French Resistance before. Given the large number of Moroccans in the French military prior to World War II it is not surprising.

CSA and Native Americans

Recently a number of bloggers have expressed surprise that a Confederate textbook had a favorable entry on Native Americans. It is only surprising because the politically correct leftists who dominate the US universities have brain washed so many people into thinking Jefferson Davis was a 19th century version of Adolf Hitler. It is a well documented fact that the CSA had a more favorable policy towards Native Americans than the Union. Only American academics seem unaware of this fact. Foreign historians seem to have no difficulty grasping it. For instance British historian Nicholas Hobbes has the following entry in his small book, Essential Militaria: Facts, Legends and Curiosities About Warfare Through the Ages(New York: Grove Press, 2003), p. 139.

The Five Confederate Tribes

The Native American tribes given rights by the government of the Confederate States of America, which were denied them by the U.S. government. They served in cavalry units and as scouts. The Union victory deprived the tribes of their remaining rights, leaving them worse off than before their involvement in the American Civil War.



My uncle has me digging holes again. This one, however, is not actually for a post. It is instead for him. He has a shooting range on the ranch. Recently he has been complaining that he has been shooting very poorly. Part of this he thinks has to do with the difference in elevation between him and the target. He figures if he is a couple of feet lower then he will have better accuracy. It might be true. At anyrate today I was out digging a hole for him to stand in while he shoots. Tomorrow I will be making it bigger and putting in a wooden floor. My uncle sometimes comes up with very creative solutions to problems here on the ranch.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Human Cost of Communism Part II

Each of these short posts is going to deal with an aspect of the Soviet death toll under Stalin. This first post deals with the deaths of those exiled as "kulaks" to special settlement villages during the 1930s. The mass deportation of farmers branded as "kulaks" to special settlements in the Far North and Urals began in 1930. Later the OGPU (Unified State Political Administration) exiled "kulaks" to western Siberia and northern Kazakhstan. A very large number of these deportees died of hunger, illness and the cold. The Soviet records regarding these deaths are woefully incomplete. The data for 1930 and 1931 when deaths were highest is very fragmentary. Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk estimates special settler deaths during these two years at 200,000. An official Soviet figure of recorded deaths for special settlers for the years 1932 to 1940 does exist. It comes to 389,521 exiles. This number, however, does not include deaths in transit to the special settlements. It also does not include those who died trying to escape. A large number of those recorded as escapees may also have actually been deaths. The total number of registered escaped special settlers during the 1930s reached 629,042. Only 235,120 of these fugitives are listed as having ever been returned to the special settlements. How many extra deaths can be added to the nearly 400,000 recorded by the OGPU and NKVD is hard to say. But the total number of people to die during the 1930s as a result of being deported to special settlements certainly exceeds 600,000.

Sources for figures

Oleg V. Khlevniuk, The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror (London: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 327.

Pavel Polian, Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), p. 92.

Colleague in the News: Brian Glyn Williams

I see that my colleague and past collaborator Brian Williams has made it into the news again. It is starting to spread through the blogshpere, but most of the links seem to be available at Cliopatria where Ralph Lurker has posted about it. I particpated with Brian Williams on three Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) panels at Columbia University. The first two were in 2000 and 2001 before I went to SOAS. At the time he was a lecturer at SOAS and his recommendation undoubtedly played a key part in me getting into the MA program there. He also wrote the article on Crimean Tatars for the special topic issue of the Journal of Genocide Research I edited. It was vol. 4, no. 3 (Sept. 2002). I last saw him at the ASN conference in 2004 where he served as the commentator on a panel I organized dealing with the Crimean Tatars.

It appears that one of his students was visited by DHS recently. So the local newspaper interviewed Brian. It is unclear as to what prompted the visit. The claim is that it was getting a copy of Mao's Little Red Book by inter-library loan. But, the student's travels and political activities also appear to have played a not insignificant role in alerting DHS.

As to my comments on the greater meaning of the story all I can say is that if the DHS visits me please bring job applications. As long as you pay at least $30,000 a year plus medical benefits I'll work for you. It may not be as prestigious as being a professor, but at least it is work that pays more than minimum wage.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday in Serenity

Okay, the sun has returned after abandoning us yesterday. Right now we are again in Utopia mode. I worked for a while this morning on the book chapter and got the demographic section hashed out. It turns out that in fact I had the same number I needed in the lost document in another document. Which I suspected might be the case since many NKVD reports tended to be summaries based upon earlier head counts. I also wrote a short paragraph on the decrease in births in exile due to malnutrition, family separations and other factors. I am not going to do any more work today until after the sun goes down. Now I am going out to the hookah lounge to smoke banana flavored tobacco and read about Afghanistan.


Right now I am revising the part of my book chapter dealing with demographics. It is not going as well as I would like because I am missing a document and all my notes on it. They are in California. Before I left Virginia I asked for the revisions so I could do them while I still could go to the Library of Congress. They said they couldn't give them to me until months later. So I had no idea what they were going to ask for and bringing all my notes would have been impossibe. I am just going to have to substitute another document that is relatively close in date. The new number should be within 5% of the one I originally used.

At anyrate the excess mortality caused by the deportations reached extremely high levels. In total it resulted in at least 450,000 deaths beyond the expected mortality rates of the eight nationalities confined to special settlement restrictions in their entirety during the 1940s. This number constitutes almost 20% of the population under examination. Russian-Germans accounted for over half of these deaths and the vast majority of the remainder came from Muslim nationalities native to the Caucasus and Crimea. Out of all the deported nationalities the Chechens lost the greatest percentage of their population from the disease, malnutrtition and exposure that resulted from the poor material conditions the Stalin regime imposed upon them in exile. Excess deaths among the Chechens exceeded 30% of their total population. Only one other people in the world, the Jews, lost a comparable portion of their population during the 1940s.

This grim number crunching has inspired me to do a series of posts on when I finish revising the book chapter. I have been frequently asked in conversation about the total number of Stalin's victims. Giving an exact total is of course impossible because the records are incomplete to say the least. But, enough data exists to give a fairly good estimate now I think.

Quantifying the Human Cost of Communism Part I

Every so often I get asked about how many people did Stalin kill. It is impossible to give an exact number because the records are of course incomplete. There is also the question of exactly what categories of death one counts. But, enough data exists to give a rough estimate. The categories I think should be counted towards arriving at a total death toll due to the murderous actions of the Stalin regime include deaths from deprivation in labor camps, deportation trains, special settlements and the artificial famine of 1932 to 1933 as well as executions. Many revisionists seeking to reduce the Soviet death toll in comparison to Nazi crimes seek to dismiss this last category of deaths as something other than state directed mass murder. Chief among these revisionists are Mark Tauger, Barbara Green and Stephen Wheatcroft. The last of these revisionists also seeks to minimize the moral gravity of Stalin's other crimes as well. His claim that Soviet executions during the Great Purges were a lesser crime than Nazi killings because the former were "legal" and the later "illegal" makes no sense what so ever. Both were "legal" under the regimes they took place under. Likewise both would be "illegal" under the system of international law that evolved after World War II. His dismissal of deaths in Soviet labor camps as "manslaughter" rather than murder while claiming that deaths from the same causes in Nazi camps was "murder" also makes no sense. So my series of posts on the subject of mortality in the USSR due to Soviet repression will not be making any such distinctions. In my opinion such revisionists of Stalin's crimes are far worse than David Irving because they teach Soviet history in western Universities without any protests from so called "anti-revisionists."

Books I wish somebody else would write

A long time ago I posted a rather long entry on books I would like to write in the future. This list is on books I would like to read, but do not wish to write. In fact I probably lack the skills needed to write them. Things like reading non-Indo-European languages are not easy to acquire. The wish list is in no particular order. If any of these books have been written please let me know so I can try and acquire them.

A comparative history of desert agriculture, particularly cotton in Central Asia, the Middle East and the US South West including Texas.

A history of the hookah.

A comparative history of Native Americans explaining why the Navajos seem to have fared better than almost all the other indigenous peoples of the US.

Progress on book chapter revision

Yesterday and today, I got some work done editing my book chapter. It is more difficult than I initially anticipated. The editor wants me to make connections with the other chapters in the book. This is a good idea to provide continuity. But, it took me a while to remember even what the other people wrote about. It has been a long time since I read their draft chapters. Also she asks for some additional information in parts. Since I do not have access to a research library I have to make due with the notes and books I have here. I have found some stuff, but I am not sure I can find all of it. Right now I am thinking that I probably can not.

For instance she asks when the deported peoples fighting in the Red Army were removed from the ranks and sent to special settlements. Except for Russian-Germans and Karachais I can not find the exact decrees that ordered their removal from the military. I have a lot of Soviet documents with references to their transfer from the armed services to exile in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Siberia. But, most of them just refer to the years 1944 to 1948 which I take to be the time period it took them to all arrive in the special settlement zones. This extended period is due to first sending many of the "punished peoples" to forced labor battalions under GULag administration known collectively as the labor army.

Other questions I am not as sure how to tackle. She has several on the lack of assimilation of the deported peoples with the surrounding population while in exile. In order to keep it short, she wants one sentence additions in each place, I am having to think alot about what to write. So the paper is taking a bit longer to revise than I anticipated.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where does Afghanistan go?

As part of my effort to expand my all too limited knowledge about the countries surrounding Soviet Central Asia I have been reading about the history of Afghanistan recently. Geographically Afghanistan has served as a buffer state for much of modern history. Hence it has been easier to say where it was between rather than where it was. It is between Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. However, not many institutions group these areas together. Usually they are considered separate regions and separate departments will exist to deal with each of these geographic divisions. Where they put Afghanistan is up to each individual institution and there is no standardized classification. At the University of Arizona, Afghanistan is considered part of the Middle East. At SOAS Afghanistan is variously considered either part of Central Asia or part of South Asia depending upon the time period. The Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus calls it a neighboring region in its official pamphlet, but has sponsored a lot of events on the situation in Afghanistan since 2001. In contrast Dr. Akiner's Central Asia: History, Politics and Religion MA course did not cover Afghanistan. Hence in modern times it appears that Afghanistan has been moving from South Asia into Central Asia as far as SOAS is concerned.

Historically, I think Afghanistan's connections with India both under the Mughals and later the British makes it a closer fit for the South Asian category than either Central Asia or the Middle East. Almost equally as important, its independence from the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union excludes it from the shared modern history of the core countries of Central Asia. Placing it in the Middle East is even more problematic. Afghanistan's historical ties to the Middle East are mostly with Iran. A country that is itself outside the Arab core of what most Middle Eastern studies departments concentrate upon. I believe a good case could be made to group Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan together as a unit of study on the basis of a shared Persian heritage. There are no institutions, however, that I know of that do this. More importantly I think Afghanistan shows the problems with the current geographic divisions of study. In reality Afghanistan is Central Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern to various degrees. It can not be completely characterized as being part of only one of these regions. While perhaps an extreme case, Afghanistan is not the only country in the world that defies the current geographical divisions that academia has imposed upon the world.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sunshine again

Yesterday was cloudy again. But, today we have sunshine. That means we also have water. After I take a shower I am going to sit in the Hookah lounge and work on my book chapter that I still need to finish editing. It is on the loss, retention and re-aquisition of social capital among the deported peoples in the USSR. It is more interesting than it sounds. Today's hookah flavor is vanilla. Chris is not allowed near the hookah with any chile peppers. Also a piece of trivia for Kristin. An Ottoman Sultan was the first person to smoke tobacco from a hookah which is known in Turkish as a narghile.

Interesting fact I learned today

Evidently in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the University of Arizona sent people over to the Ottoman Empire as part of an effort to learn how to better farm in the desert. There are a lot of climatic similarities between the South West and the Middle East. So it makes sense. Maybe my South West/Middle East fusion idea for the Chicken Shack and Hookah Lounge is not as original as I thought. But, I think I can carry it to new heights. Just imagine prickly pear flavored shisha.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brief update

Today, finally after six days of cloudy weather we have sun again. This also means we will have water again since our well pump is powered by solar panels. A lot of people who do not use solar power tend to glorify it because it does not put pollutants into the air. This is true. But, solar power does not work at all if there are any clouds what so ever blocking the direct rays of the sun. Even in southern Arizona this can go on for days and even weeks at a time.

I started editing the book chapter I got back from DC. I hope to finish it and get it sent back before Friday. Due to previous internet problems it is running quite late. I should have gotten it in September and I just got it on Monday.

I found one last academic job opening that is broadly in my field. I figure I can afford one last $1.06 lottery ticket. Fortunately, unlike most US applications this one only asks for two letters of recommendation rather than the usual three. Two is standard in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. I do not know why US institutions usually insist on three other than to just to put another petty obstacle in my way. Finding people to write recommendations has always been very difficult for me. Most people do not want to do it. Given that it does not appear to improve my chances much above zero I can understand why they would think it is a waste of time. Ideally search committees should just ask for a one page CV by e-mail if possible and then make their first cull before they ask for more material. Also instead of making me get three letters of recommendation sent by post each time they should just ask for the contact details of my references. Then if they feel they need to see the actual letters they can ask the individuals on the list to submit written recommendations. This would save everybody a lot of time, effort and money.

Tomorrow I am going to Tucson to meet somebody at the suggestion of my supervisor. I do not know if the meeting will help me in my job search. But, it can not hurt it. The great advantage of being on the bottom is you can not fall any lower.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Guru Pohl is contacted by another seeker of knowledge

Today I got another unsolicited e-mail from a student seeking knowledge about the deported peoples of the USSR. This initiate came from a very long distance to contact Guru Pohl. In the age of the internet this poses no problem. I welcome seekers of knowledge from all lands both domestic and foreign. I hope that I can help this student as well as I did the last one.

Woman in DC Slays New Mexican Cybermonsters

Well I finally got my book chapter with suggested revisions from the editor in Austin by e-mail today. They came to me by way of DC. After six failed attempts to deliver the document to me, the coordinator of the project in DC just grabbed the cybermonsters by the neck and dragged them all the way from New Mexico to DC. There she promptly slaughtered them with her bare hands. They definitely had it coming.

Now that I have the editor's comments I can revise the chapter over the next couple of days. It is my one outstanding piece scheduled for publication that needs editing. Fortunately, the desired changes are not substantial so they should not take me very long. I am just glad to finally have the document in my hands.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Time Festivities in Arivaca

Yesterday the library had its Annual Holiday Tea complete with live music and food, but no tea. The food was quite good, however. This was followed shortly afterwards with the Annual Winterfest at the Community Center. There they had even more great food, prickly pear tea and more live music. I got to see Chris O'Byrne play guitar and sing for the first time yesterday. He is quite talented. I can't wait until we record him playing "Live at Otto's Chicken Shack and Hookah Lounge." I also got to meet some of the local Arivaca notables at the Winterfest. Arivaca is probably the only community in the US where your social status does not depend on what type of job you have, how much money you have or what type of car you drive. So I was not immediately snubbed by these leaders of the community as would have happened just about anywhere else in the US. Even though I knew Arivaca was an exceptional place in this regard, this lack of a negative reaction to my economic circumstances always pleasantly surprises me.

I helped one person this month

I finished assisting the graduate student that e-mailed me out of the blue the other week. I think I did a good job. Even though no university thinks I am capable of teaching it seems like pretty easy work to me. It is certainly much easier, more enjoyable and pays infinitely more than working as a barrista. I am totally at a loss how anybody with a job teaching at a university could have any complaints. At anyrate unlike the paid professoriat I am always available to assist students or anybody else seeking help in acquiring knowledge in my field of study. Just send me an e-mail with your questions. Also unlike the professoriat I believe if you fail to understand something I explain it is my fault not yours. Guru Pohl welcomes and loves all seekers of knowledge. Professors who blog about hating their students should be fired. It would greatly improve higher education in this country.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Exile in paradise

In the last two years I have sent out over 100 applications for positions as either a starting lecturer or post-doctoral fellow. A little less than twenty are still awaiting review. So far I have only gotten one interview. It was for a position overseas that would have paid $500 a month. They gave the job to somebody with far fewer publications. It does not look like I will get another interview anywhere. It is apparent that US universities put no value what so ever on publishing or research. There are plenty of people who are ABD with no publications that have been hired as assistant professors in the US. I have two scholarly books, a half dozen peer reviewed journal articles and a Ph.D. finished in a record two years at Europe's finest institution for the study of Oriental history. This all counts for absolutely nothing in the calculations of the search committees for US universities.

So it appears that I will probably not be starting a new job in academia next fall. Instead I will most likely be living indefinitely in Arivaca. Or at least until I can come up with an alternative career plan. I sat out on my meditation slab yesterday trying to figure out a job I could do that would at least pay the rent on a studio apartment. I did not come up with anything. The cost of rent alone in the US now exceeds minimum wage just about everywhere. So unless somebody comes forward and offers me a job that can cover basic expenses it appears I am exiled in paradise. If one has to be unemployed with no money then Arivaca is probably the best place in the world to do it. Until somebody does offer me a job I can get lots of writing done, expand my intellectual horizons and create a whole new school of cooking.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sunrise in Arivaca

The sunrise this morning was absolutely spectacular. Today I intend to do some writing on Catherine's Grandchildren, get some book proposals for my dissertation put together and try and finish the history of the US 9th Cavalry I have been reading. Now that I am no longer filling out tedious job applications with deadlines I feel alot less constrained.

Yesterday at the Hookah Lounge

Yesterday, Chris O'Byrne , one of my few neighbors stopped by Serenity Ranch. In addition to looking at my computer he tried out our smoking divan. We smoked mint shisha and hung out for a while. Unfortunately, he and Sara could not join my uncle and I for some fantastic Arivaca wings.

One regret over last week

I only have one regret regarding last week. A few days before my anti-virus software went dodgy I got an unsolicited e-mail from a graduate student researching a topic I have written about. He had read my second book and had alot of well thought out questions. Being cut off from my e-mail prevented me from communicating with him. Now that I am back online I hope that I can finish helping this student. It is not very often that strangers e-mail me with questions about a book I wrote six years ago. Rather than complain like many paid academics do when students ask them for help answering questions I relish the opportunity to assist this man without any financial compensation. The more I read cowardly pseudonymous academic bloggers the more I am convinced that the current American professoriat is only interested in themselves, hate their students and have no interest in furthering real knowledge.

Where Soul Meets Body

After coming back from being gone from the blogosphere for a week I have come to some conclusions. First, I need to stop reading any blogs written by academics, especially those too cowardly to use their real names. Reading bitter whinging by radical feminist professors who have few publications and hate their students, but think they are superior beings because they have a Ph.D. is bad for my blood pressure. More importantly, it detracts seriously from the groovey vibe of living on Serenity Ranch. I truly do live "Where Soul Meets Body." There is a reason why all the great monotheistic religions of the world came out of the desert. This is where God lives. You can see it in the beauty of the landscape. I am much more productive and happy when I think about my immediate surroundings and ignore the vile corruption that has oozed out of the ivory tower into the internet.

Arivaca Curry

Okay, I am going to ease back into blogging lightly here. Food entries seem to be popular in some quarters and never provoke hostile responses. So I will present you with my latest culinary delight.

The other night I was going to grill some chicken breasts marinated in hot sauce and Italian dressing. But, I ran out of propane very shortly after putting them on the grill. Our propane tank does not have a meter and I had not bothered to lift it recently to see how full it was. So I had to cook the chicken in the kitchen that night. I sliced up the breasts into small pieces using a very sharp knife and put them and the marinade in the wok. The fat from the chicken combined with the marinade to make a very tasty gravy. It reminded me of an Asian curry dish. I served it over rice and gave it the name Arivaca Curry. Like most of my great food ideas this one was the result of running out of something and having to find a substitute.

Technical Problem Fixed

My problem is now fixed due to the helpful advice of Chris O'Byrne. So I will be trying to update this blog on a more regular basis now. In my absence from blogging I got ten pages done on Catherine's Grandchildren, read Jay J. Wagoner's history of the Arizona Territory from 1863 to 1912 and invented Arivaca curry. The last feat will get its own glorious entry as befits all new additions to Arivaca cuisine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Technical Problems

Sorry for not posting recently. My anti-virus software is refusing to load. Until I get the problem fixed I am afraid there will be minimal blogging. I seem to have the worst luck with technology. On the other hand the break from blogging has let me get back to more substantial writing and reading. My popular history book is making good progress again now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Things I have accomplished so far this week

I made a list of things to do this week on Sunday. Out of eight items I have finished seven of them. Granted five of the things consisted of composing and sending an e-mail message, but I did get them all sent. I also finished editing my cotton paper and got it sent. Finally, I went to the post office and mailed what I believe will be my last job application to be completed in the year 2005. It cost me $1.06 to mail which is 6% more than the much higher paying lottery tickets with better odds that they sell in most liquor and grocery stores. The final item on my list of things to do this week is to start sending out book proposals for my dissertation again. I will restart this ongoing project tomorrow.

A little bit of good news from New Orleans

Well despite the destruction of most of New Orleans it looks like my journal article will be appearing almost on schedule. The editor carried the journal's files out of New Orleans to Houston to avoid Katrina and then to Chicago two weeks later to avoid Rita. So my one publication dealing with the narrow Middle East, otherwise known as Palestine, will be seeing publication in June 2006. I am really amazed that the journal editor has been able to keep the publication schedule running on time given the circumstances he has had to work under.

Blue Chicken

When I last went to the library on Saturday I checked out Sun Records three CD "The Ultimate Blues Collection" with its 75 songs by people like Rufus Thomas, Joe Hill Lewis, Walter Horton, Willie Nix, Earl Hooker, James Cotton, Frank Frost and other greats. Most of the songs were recorded in the early 1950s. I have been listening to it alot in the last couple of days. It even has Rosco Gordon's "The Chicken (Dance with You)" on it. This song is now the official theme song of Otto's Chicken Shack. Do the Chicken at the Shack tonight.

Publication pipeline

Well I still have not gotten the book chapter back from the editor in Austin for the book project out of DC. There appears to be some serious technical glitch preventing it from showing up in my e-mail. I am not sure if the problem is on my end, her end or in between. But, somewhere technology is failing in its duty. It may be faster to just have it sent by post soon.

The book project out of Tartu, however, is right on schedule. I attribute this to the Teutonic efficiency of its German editor. No delays, no glitches, no extra revisions and no headaches mar this project. No sir, not even the cybermonsters that live in New Mexico would dare mess with somebody with the title Herr Doktor Doktor Professor.

I sent in an edited version of my cotton paper to London for publication. I got back an e-mail from SOAS that they had received it. So it looks like that project is progressing smoothly. I do not predict any problems with this project. They had the conference very well organized.

I have not checked up on the other projects in the publication pipeline. I have one journal article scheduled for publication in May 2006, but the staff was based in New Orleans. So I am going to check and see if it has been delayed. I have one encyclopaedia article due to be published in Germany in March 2006 and I think that is still on track. Then I have five encyclopedia articles scheduled for publication in 2007. I believe they are still on schedule.

We have water!

It appears we have fixed all the leaks. The tank is now filling up with water and I can finally take a shower. It has been over a week since my last one.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Another Reader Poll

On 11 October I took a poll of my small readership. I got 13 responses which was alot more than I expected. At anyrate I have decided that I should take another straw poll on the direction of this blog. After the first poll I resolved to maintain a balance of pieces on deported peoples in the USSR, life in Arivaca and my dismal job search. Since then I have also posted quite a bit on the history of cotton in Central Asia. In terms of comments my most popular piece was my rant on anonymous academic bloggers. Obviously I hit a nerve with some people. I have considered doing more blog posts on the history of southern Arizona, but my interest in the subject is still an amateur pursuit. At anyrate I am asking the dozen or so people who happen to read this blog post if you think the current mix of topics for blog posts should be changed. Let me know what you think. I am willing to consider all constructive criticism and suggestions.


Yesterday my uncle and I went to the library. I had some books due the 29th that I had finished reading that I was returning. By luck the library was holding its monthly book sale. You can not beat 50 cent books and CDs. Well, I suppose you could, but when the same books cost $150 in Tubac it is a pretty good deal. I have finally extended my CD collection into double digits. It now includes "The Real Kansas City of the 20s, 30s & 40s" by various artists and "Searching for Roots: Music from Estonia" by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Both are pretty good, but the KC one is a bit scratchy. One song keeps skipping and I have to push next on the CD player to get the album playing again. So my 25 songs are really 24. That's still not bad for half a dollar.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Great Arivaca Canals

For about a week now we have been losing more water than the well can pump. Since then we have been on strict water rations. We have been trying without results to fix this problem. Friday we dug up a section of pipe and fixed one leaky T-Joint. It appears, however, that there are other leaks. The tank is still not filling with water. In fact it is still just about empty. Tomorrow we will be adding to the ever more extensive series of trenches criss-crossing the hill between the well and the Chicken Shack. Someday, archeologists will be trying to discover the purpose of the Great Arivaca Canals.

Friday, November 25, 2005

New Additions to Blogroll

I have added a few new additions to the blogroll recently. Among the new links are Sara Matthewson's "Life is an Adventure." She is a fellow resident of Arivaca and Chris O'Byrne's far better half. She is also an accomplished artist. Also in the additions is "Dougout" from Grant Jones in Hawaii. He presents conservative commentary from that most liberal of states. I have been following his posts on the conflict between the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the US Navy with great interest. Finally, I have added yet another British blog. This time from Scotland. "Tub Thumper" provides coverage of issues both British and international in a thought provoking manner.


My uncle and I went with some friends of his from Green Valley to dinner in Nogales, Mexico for Thanksgiving. Located behind the massage parlour across the railroad tracks is a great little restaurant called "La Roca." I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I am an Orientalist not a "Diversity Consultant"

One of the jobs I was going to apply to has the following statement in its job advertisement. The University is committed to building a culturally diverse education environment. Applicants are requested to include in their cover letter information about how they will further this goal. It is too bad too because it is one of the very few tenure track jobs that mentions Central Asia. But, it took me forever to rewrite my current cover letter and I have no idea what they mean by "culturally diverse" yet alone how I could further it as a history lecturer. This type of politically correct nonsense is why Johnny can't find Tashkent on a map.

Can the Meskhetian Turks Finally Go Home?

It appears that the Georgian government is finally allowing the return of at least some Meskhetian Turks to their homeland. According to an article by Fati Mamiashvili in Tbilisi for the London based Institute for War and Peace Reporting - Caucasus Reporting Service, No. 315 of 23 November 2005, repatriation will begin next year. In 1999 the Georgian government pledged itself to this task when it joined the Council of Europe. But, up until now little has been done. Currently only about 600 Meskhetian Turks out of a population of over 300,000 have been allowed to return to Georgia. More than 110,000 live in neighboring Azerbaijan and another 100,000 live in Kazakhstan. The remaining 100,000 are divided amongst Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and the US. Conditions for the estimated 18,000 Meskhetian Turks in Krasnodar Krai, Russia have been particularly difficult during the last fifteen years. Here most of them have been denied legal residency by the local authorities and many have been subjected to Cossack violence.

The Georgian government plans to open two reception centers to help acculturate repatriating Meskhetian Turks to life in modern Georgia. Most notably these centers will provide instruction in the Georgian language. Plans for providing the repatriates with farm land, housing, jobs, pensions and schools are still in a very embryonic stage. It appears, however, that the Georgian government will be spreading them across Georgia in order to ease their economic and social absorption. Hence only a minority of the repatriates will be able to return to their ancestral lands in Meskheti-Javakheti.

Countering popular Georgian prejudices against the Meskhetian Turks, however, may be the most difficult task the government faces in resettling the returnees. Most Georgians are strongly opposed to the repatriation and view the Meskhetian Turks as impossible to assimilate. Despite their very small population, the Meskhetian Turks already living in Georgia have been subjected to considerable ethnic harassment and even violence.

It is not known exactly how many Meskhetian Turks will now opt to resettle in Georgia. Many may choose to remain in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Those currently in Krasnodar Krai have the option of coming to the US and some 2000 have already arrived here. But, the right of return demanded by the Meskhetian Turks for decades now looks like it will be granted. A very large number of Meskhetian Turks will undoubtedly take advantage of this right to return to Georgia.

Thanks to Hovann Simonian for bringing the IWPR article to my attention.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Race are Central Asians?

The affirmative action definitions of the US government used by universities to reduce all people to merely members of essentialized biological groups do not appear to have any place for the people of Central Asia. They have Asians in which they include Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis as well as people of East Asian descent. They also have "White" which includes Iranians, Turks and other peoples native to the Middle East. Not mentioned at all are Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz or Turkmen. One serious problem with the groups given as examples is that the categories are all mixed up. Iranian and Pakistani are not ethnic groups. Both Iran and Pakistan are multi-ethnic states in which a large number of ethnic groups live. Many of these ethnic groups cross boundries. This leads to strange results under the US affirmative action classifications. An ethnic Baluchi born in Iran is considered "White" and hence subject to defacto discrimination. In contrast his cousin born across the border in Pakistan is considered Asian and gets special preferences. So people of the same ethnicity and family are catagorized as belonging to different races under the official racial classification system of the US. Does this make even the slightest amount of sense? Do the people who made this system have any idea what constitutes nationality versus race versus ethnicity? Or do the multiculturalists just get off on the power trip?

Given the obsession of the ruling powers in the US with physical phenotypes my guess is that they would split Central Asia. Tajiks, Turkmen and Uzbeks would fall under the disfavored "White" label and Kazakhs and Kyrgyz would be considered Asians. However, since I have never seen them mentioned in any of the many affirmative action forms universities keep sending me I would like to see an official clarification. If anybody knows anything about the official US affirmative action racial classifications for Central Asian nationalities, I would be very interested in hearing about it.

Writing and Formats

I have not written any history posts here in over a week. One main reason is that I have not had any random thoughts about topics that lend themselves to short popular pieces in the last eight days. Usually such pieces accompany longer and more formal writing projects. Right now I have pretty much milked the cotton paper and conference for all they are worth. I am still waiting to get my revisions for another writing project. I am not sure if it will produce any blog entries. I will have to see what the editor wants me to change. After I finish with that piece I will again resume work on Catherine's Grandchildren. I will definitely have more to say on that project. It is my first book aimed at a general rather than an academic audience. I am going to be putting up more posts on the process of writing and less on the depressing job search very soon.

More Technology Problems

Not only have the cybermonsters that live in the Badlands of New Mexico repeatedly eaten a crucial document I need from Austin Texas, but now we have water problems again. The well is pumping water, there are no obvious leaks anywhere and yet the tank is not filling up. I feel like I am in one of those science fiction stories where the machines revolt against their masters. If the coffee maker joins in and goes on strike we are doomed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Writing Projects

I have a couple of writing projects that need one last final revision before they go off for publication. I need to make a few corrections to the cotton paper and I am awaiting to hear from an editor for comments regarding revision on a book chapter. I should have heard from her in September, but the monsters in cyberspace ate the document. On Friday I decided to check the status of the project since I had not heard anything since July. I was told that the editor had sent me the corrections on 28 September. I have of course recieved nothing. Technology really hates Arivaca Man. Since Friday, I have been trying hard to get a copy of my chapter with the editor's comments. I am not sure if there is some technical problem preventing my e-mail from receiving the work or not. I hope I can take care of this problem today. As soon as I get the editor's suggestions I will edit the manuscript to take them into account.

Job Search

Well it looks like I will be wrapping up the job search for this year soon. Probably this week in fact. The number of job openings remotely related to my field is far fewer this year than last. Remote being defined as Middle East or Islamic World. This year there were only two positions specifically mentioning Central Asia that I could find. One of which was a post-doc. I found nothing on Soviet history. I suspect this shrinkage will continue. History is being eliminated as a subject of study. I think the past is just too embarrassing for the leftists that control the universities so they find it necessary to obliterate it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"Unhip Music" and Chinese food

Yesterday, my uncle and I went to the community center to see the Green Valley Bavarian Brass Band play. They served cake and ice cream. I had the chocolate cake with flan topping. It was really good. My uncle had the strawberry cake. I noticed on the program that they were on serious Arivaca time. It was dated 19 October 2005. I think from now on we should just refer to local seasons. Right now it is bee season. A while ago it was grasshopper season. Before that it was toad season. Each season lasts about two to three weeks. This is a much easier system for people in Arivaca to use to mark time. We tend to lose track of the days used by the rest of the world.

Later for dinner I put the wok my parents got me when they were here to good use. I chopped up two left over chicken breasts, one bell pepper, added a bag of broccoli slaw, some bean sprouts and stir fried. For flavoring I combined some La Choy sweet and sour sauce with hot sauce and mixed it in with the chicken and vegetables. It was really good. Now that it is colder at night I am going to be doing more Asian cooking inside with the wok.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Report from Utopia

Today is just about perfect here in Arivaca. So perfect I can not get up any ambition to care about the rest of the world. It seems so far away and alien to the serenity here. Until Monday I am on Arivaca time with Arivaca attitude.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Menu at the Chicken Shack

I promised I was going to do a post on cuisine this week. More specifically Arivaca Man cuisine. The standard meal for Arivaca Man is spicy grilled chicken with salad and rice. Of course it would be odd if the Chicken Shack specialized in something other than chicken. For a long time now chicken has been my favourite vegetable. There are several simple variations of Arivaca style spicy chicken. One can cook either wings or breasts. Then there is the choice of either prickly pear and hot sauce or Italian dressing and hot sauce marinade. Both are pretty simple. Just take a half bottle of each of the ingredients mix together and throw over 2 and half pounds of chicken. You should be using about three to four ounces of each of the component sauces for the marinade. Marinate the chicken for a couple of hours then grill. Wings done in the prickly pear and hot sauce flavor are the signature dish at the Shack.

Of course every once in a while Arivaca Man eats something other than chicken. To cook steak, just brush the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then place on grill for no longer than five minutes each side. It should be a bright pink inside. The steak should be served with baked potatoes and salad. I like the NY strip the best.

The Chicken Shack as always is constantly undergoing improvement. Currently, I am looking for an Arizona state flag (they apparently do not sell them in Arizona), a disco ball and a lava lamp. Otto's Chicken Shack is the only South Western/Middle Eastern restaurant, hookah lounge and soon to be dance club in southern Arizona.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Yesterday I got four job applications sent off. I did not get the ones needing a statement of teaching philosophy sent yet. I have no idea what to write for my teaching philosophy. I fear that what they are looking for are some new fangled theories and methodologies. My philosophy is very old school. In short my philosophy is to provide information to students through lectures and reading assignments. Why does this require a formal essay to explain? At anyrate I am going to do the next small batch of applications this morning and then worry about the teaching philosophy statement. Maybe I can figure out a way to stretch the phrase "lectures and reading assignments" into a full page later today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Sunny Morning in Arivaca

Today as always is a beautiful and sunny day in paradise. It has been up in the 80s during the day recently. The sky is clear and I can see for miles. There are no cars, buildings or riff raff to spoil the majesty of God's creation here. It almost makes up for most of the rest of the world being such a cesspit.

Today I am going to finish up the batch of six job applications I started yesterday. I have three done and should finish them all in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, two of them require a statement of teaching philosophy. I at one time wrote one, but evidently I did it on the SOAS mainframe. Any copies I might have had elsewhere are nowhere to be found. It probably needed to be rewritten anyways.

By the end of the week I want to get all eleven job applications I have finished. I also want to get a final version of my cotton paper finished. I don't have anything else that has to be done this week. It will give me some time to catch up on my reading.

My little blog

Wow, five people commented on my blog yesterday. I don't think I even get that many readers on most days. I figure that is probably my weekly visitor rate. It was nice to see that this blog has some readers. At anyrate I think I have exhausted the theme of academic bloggers for the time being. I don't have anything more to say on the issue. The comments are still open and if somebody wants me to post something for them like I did for Ben I will consider it. Other than that I am moving on to other things.

Another point of view

A good friend of mine who does not have a Blogger account e-mailed me this response to my last post with a request that I post it. I appreciate the feedback. I have always welcomed civil disagreement with my opinions on this blog. The rest of the post is his.

Your last entry regarding anonymous bloggers raised some good points. It is true that there are many in academia who would rather hide behind the anonymity of the internet. However, this may not always be because they are simply too pussy to stand by their own views. In the current political climate, tenure is not really a guarantee of free speech anymore - witness the Ward Churchill controversy or the pressure brought by groups like Students for Academic Freedom. In recent years it has become a stated goal of the American right to bend the academy further in that ideological direction. Given these circumstances, it seems logical that tenure or tenure-track academics would be more reluctant to associate their names/professions with controversial views. This has a very chilling effect upon the academy and learning in general.
You are correct that people should be willing to stand by the things that they put in print. However, the internet is not exactly like an academic journal. Anonymity has always been a part of its allure. It seems likely that this allure will only increase in the near term, given the political considerations I mentioned above.

Ironically, I would have posted this on your comments section, but you have disabled anonymous posting. Perhaps you can post it for me? I do not care to register or start my own blog, so perhaps you would consider enabling anonymous posting until someone abuses it? Also, I am not sure if your blog site has this capability, but others include a feature wherein you can allow anonymous posting but the post does not actually go up until you screen it yourself. You might want to consider this feature in case there are those that would like to comment but are too lazy to register (like me) and don't have your email address (which I could not find anywhere on the blog, is this intentional?).

Just some thoughts,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

If you can't say it under your real name don't say it at all

Not only are most academics in the blogosphere hard leftists that have forsaken such disciplines as history and English for such politically correct fields as "post-colonial studies", but alot of them are cowards. If they truly believe what they write they should be willing to put their name, city of residence and place of work next to it. The pusilanimousness of anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers with tenure has bothered me for some time. If tenure protects free speech why do they need to hide behind the shield of a fake name? The practice is indicative of the dishonesty and hypocrisy that prevades academia. I am quite sure if Beria were alive today he would make a fine professor of post-colonial studies at a US university.

All of the very best blogs in terms of information are written by people who are not university professors and use their real names. I find Jonathan Edelstein's Head Heeb, Randy McDonald's Live Journal, Andy Young's Siberian Light (now on hiatus), Nathan Hamm's Registan, Richard Hindes's Disillusioned Kid and Mark Elf's Jews sans Frontieres to be far more enlightening than anything from the masked professoriat. Of course this is merely part of a larger real world trend. I have already mentioned Dr. Kandiyoti's opinion that the vast majority of knowledge production on Central Asia today is taking place outside of academia. When a prestigious scholar of the region at Europe's best institution for the study of the Orient makes such a statement you know academia has real problems. Chief among them is that they are no longer producing any research results in some very important fields of study.

Technology Thwarts Arivaca Man Again

Okay, today I failed to figure out how to post pictures. I have some nice ones of the ranch. I just can not get them from either my computer or my camera up onto blogger. Since many if not most of my readers have already been on the ranch this is not too big a deal. I am sure I can eventually find somebody to give me instructions on how to post photographs.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This Week

Now that I am back from London and my folks have returned to California I hope I can get some outstanding projects finished. First, I still have a number of job applications to submit. I wish I knew which jobs were actually conducting a search and which ones already had somebody picked out ahead of time. Except for a few isolated cases I suspect that the search committee just throws my application in the trash without bothering to read it at all. They may wait until they get the affirmative action form back confirming that by their definition I am a White male. But, I seriously doubt that very many of the search committees read anything else I send them.

Outside the world of gambling with very bad odds, I have some more writing projects to polish. I need to give a final editing to my cotton paper before sending it off to London for publication. I also need to start sending out queries to get my dissertation published as a book. I do not think I will ever hear back one way or the other from the publisher in Reading. I also noticed that there is another new academic journal on genocide studies out. It just issued a call for papers. I may write something up and submit it.

As far as blog entries this week, I am going to take a rest from posts on cotton in Central Asia. The last entry summarized what I think are all the important points that came out of the conference at SOAS. Rather I am going to do more local stuff. I have a digital camera now and I think I can figure out how to use it. So I am going to try and post some pictures of the ranch. Also I got an e-mail from a friend of mine requesting more entries on Arivaca Man cuisine. So I will have some practical information posted here for a change.

Currently my South West history reading is on the 9th Cavalry from 1867 to 1898. This was one of two African American Cavalry regiments formed after the Civil War. They played an important role in the war against the Apaches here in Arizona. My recent Eurasian reading has been on the development of the Pakistani state and the Soviet GULag. If anybody has any suggestions for good books on either the South West, particularly southern Arizona from 1853 to 1898 or Eurasia, particularly Central Asia from 1917 to 1987 let me know.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cotton Chain

During Soviet rule the production of cotton in Central Asia received numerous direct and indirect subsidies from Moscow. The wealth transferred from western regions of the USSR to Central Asia exceeded the value of the cotton produced in the region. This transfer allowed Central Asia to develop a much higher standard of living than it could have on its own. In particular the Soviets provided the region with much better education and medical care than existed in neighboring countries.

The Soviet subsidies provided rural Central Asia with a standard of living high enough that its population felt no economic need to migrate elsewhere. The offer of higher wages and other economic incentives by the Soviet government failed to entice rural Central Asians to move elsewhere in the USSR. Many Western scholars attributed this reluctance to migrate to higher paying jobs as stemming from cultural traits inherent to Central Asians. This cultural essentialism of course is known as racism when applied to "politically correct peoples" like Blacks or Jews. Leftist academics, however, viewed it as a perfectly acceptable explanation regarding Uzbeks and Tajiks. In reality their standard of living was already comfortable enough that they did not feel sufficient economic pressure to migrate. In the years since the Soviet collapse there has been large scale labor migration from Central Asia spurred by economic necessity.

Since the fall of the USSR, the economic conditions in Central Asia have deteriorated significantly. In Uzbekistan, heavy indirect taxation replaced the heavy subsidization of the Soviet era. This taxation takes the form of the state (the only legal purchaser of cotton) paying farmers less than the market value for their crop. The state then pockets the difference. Uzbek farmers must meet certain state quotas, the most onerous of which is the requirement that they sow a certain percentage of their land with cotton. In the Soviet Union the state poured money into the cotton sector. Now the Uzbek state extracts wealth from the cotton farms. The result has been a decline in living standards for those involved in cotton cultivation. This has motivated large scale labor migration to Russia and Kazakhstan. An even greater percentage of Tajiks have become labor migrants for similar reasons.

Most of the Central Asian migrant workers in Russia and Kazakhstan are young able bodied men. Many rural villages in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been left with only women, children and old men. This has contributed to the continued reliance on child labor to harvest the cotton crop. It has also increased gender inequalities. Men have taken higher paying jobs abroad while women have remained in lower paying jobs cultivating cotton in Central Asia. Few of the professional opportunities available to Central Asian women during Soviet rule remain in rural areas. The Soviet subsidies that supported rural schools and clinics which employed many women have long since disappeared.

The export of raw cotton is not a good basis for economic development. In the US and USSR providing a decent standard of living for cotton farmers has required heavy government subsidies. Other countries such as China and Turkey have moved away from exporting cotton. Instead they have used their domestic cotton production to supply their textile industries which have a much higher return. Both China and Turkey now import foreign cotton to supplement the domestic provision to their textile mills. Uzbekistan in particular is well placed to follow this model. The higher returns from finished textiles can then be invested in other industries. This is a much more promising path than the current one.

Life in Arivaca

Yesterday, my folks flew back to California. Later in the day my uncle and I went into town. On Saturdays people in Arivaca drive their old VW vans up to the main street and set their various wares on card tables. My uncle always buys old movies on VHS. It is a whole different scene from the chintzy commercial activities of Tubac. Here the street market serves many of the same social functions as traditional markets in rural areas throughout the world. It is a chance to engage in conversation and meet one's distant neighbors. The actual commerce is secondary. This is in strong contrast to Tubac which seems to exist in its current form merely to extort maximum profits from people who obviously have too much money.

Central Asian Music

When it comes to music I am as anti-hip as they come. Being hip is a burden that Arivaca Man has no desire to bear. I much prefer to be uncool and not have to worry about keeping up on the latest trends. I rarely purchase music and when I do it is never the cool new stuff that all the kids are listening to today. No, instead it is usually some eclectic collection of folk and pop tunes from some country in the Greater Middle East.

I got a new CD while I was in London. It follows in the tradition I described above. I purchased the Rough Guide to the Music of Central Asia at the Borders on Charing Cross Road. I figured I should have some Central Asian music to accompany my writing. I really like the Rough Guide World Music Network series of CDs. Out of eight CDs in my collection three of them are Rough Guide collections from the Islamic world. I have the Turkey and the Rai collections as well. Often I listen to the Turkish one when writing about Meskhetian Turks.

The Central Asian CD is interesting. Alot of the stuff, particularly from Kazakhstan is rougher than I usually like, however. On the other hand I like it alot better than anything I have heard on the "cool alternative" radio station out of Tucson. For some reason most of that music just sounds like noise to me.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bizarre Cotton Story

Most Soviet deportations involved sending people from the Caucasus or European areas of the USSR to eastern regions of the USSR including Central Asia. But, during the deportation of farmers branded as kulaks in 1930-1931 the Stalin regime deported about 6000 Central Asian families to southern Ukraine and the North Caucasus. These special settlers had the task of introducing cotton cultivation into these areas. Since these regions are unsuitable for growing cotton the experiment was a failure from an agricultural point of view. Mike Thurman mentioned this episode in the questions regarding my paper at the conference in London. I had read about this particular deportation in passing before he noted it. But, evidently there is a growing body of literature on the subject in Uzbekistan today. It is the only instance in the numerous deportations conducted by the Stalin regime in which people were sent out of Central Asia.

Very Scary

Tonight I did not get prematurely booted off the internet. So I had some time to peruse the blogosphere. I looked at a large number of academic blogs to see what was happening in various US universities. I felt like I was reading accounts from China's Cultural Revolution. Even more scary was reading the blogs of many US academics. I had not previously realized that Madame Mao and the Gang of Four were sane moderates by the standards of the US professoriat. Fortunately, I do not think any of the radical feminists, deconstructionists, diversity advocates and other ideologues I read are based anywhere I have an application pending. But, since many of them do not reveal their work place it is hard to know. Returning from a conference in the UK, a country where for instance American style radical feminism does not exist, makes the shock even greater. It seems that all the nutters that would be confined to Speakers Corner in London have tenure at state universities in the US.

Trip to Tubac

Earlier today I rewrote my post on cotton in Central Asia and lost it again. I am not going to rewrite it right now. It has just been too frustrating. At anyrate today we went to Tubac. It is an old Spanish Presidio that has been converted into an overpriced tourist trap. It has lots of shops selling "authentic Native American" artifacts manufactured in China. The mark up for goods in Tubac is about 1000%. In Arivaca prickly pear glaze sells for $2.50 a bottle. In Tubac it costs $22.00 a bottle. All of the books in their used book store were more expensive than new books in London. Who pays $15.00 for used paperbacks written in the 1980s? I figure if we can get these touristas up to the Chicken Shack we can fleece them for super big bucks. My uncle and I could wall paper the house in hundred dollar bills. Needless to say I was not overly impressed with Tubac. I was, however, pleased to note that outside the town entrance that they fly the Confederate flag along with the flags of Arizona, the US, Mexico and Spain to denote the diverse heritage of southern Arizona.

Friday, November 11, 2005

New Acquisitions

Yesterday I went with my parents into Green Valley. At the White Elephant I found a small couch (Divan) for the Hookah Lounge. It cost a big $45. My uncle is picking it up right now. I also got a new digital camera at Wallmart. So I may be posting some pictures soon. That is if I can one figure out how to use it and can ever get online again. It has become a major daily struggle just to check my e-mail. I lost a big post on cotton in Central Asia yesterday. Chris said he thought my connectivity problems were due to an inadequate telephone infrastructure here rather than my modem or ISP. He suggested satelite, but it sounded quite expensive. It may be the only way, however, to get reliable internet service here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lack of Academic Knowledge Production on Central Asia

I have already noted that the conference on cotton in Central Asia I attended at SOAS had very few academics present. In fact out of 20 participants only the two organizers and one other person had university positions. Everybody else worked for various NGOs, IFIs or was an independent free lancer. Mind you this was an international conference hosted and funded by a major European academic institution to deal with recent scholarship on a region of the world much in the news as of late. Yet, as Deniz Kadiyoti, one of the organizers of the conference noted, very little knowledge production about Central Asia is taking place in universities and other academic institutions. Instead the vast majority of important research on the region is being done by people other than university professors.

Even more telling was the position of tenured US professors at the conference. There were none. A full twenty percent of the participants were from the US and not one of them had a university position. The lack of serious research on Central Asia by tenured deadwood from US universities does not surprise me. There are very few universities that have programs dealing with Central Asia despite the heavy US diplomatic and military involvement in the region. Even more depressing is that almost all the programs that do exist are geared towards ahistorical IR and political science studies. The number of positions for historians of Central Asia in the US is extremely small. The fact that I was the only historian at the conference is a sharp commentary on the total failure of US universities in this matter. I got my Ph.D. from SOAS and have found it impossible to find a job in the US. American Universities are too busy providing employment for genocide deniers like Mark Tauger to bother with the production of knowledge about the history of Central Asia.

Grand Feast at Otto's Chicken Shack and Hookah Lounge

Today the Chicken Shack had its first guests. Chris and Sara came over for an early dinner of chicken wings marinated in prickly pear glaze and hot sauce. We served the wings with potato salad, green salad and garlic bread. My parents are also visiting from California so there were six of us. Dinner was as always excellent as was the hookah smoke. It was great to see Chris and Sara again. I am looking forward to more feasts at the Shack.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Caste of Helot Labourers (Cotton conference paper abstract)

During the Soviet era, cotton came to dominate the agricultural economy in southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The political economy of Soviet Central Asia centered on the cultivation of cotton to a greater extent than any other region since the Antebellum American South. Like the slave states of the southern US, the cotton fields of Central Asia also used forced labour. Already by October 1934, the Sazlag complex of corrective labour camps in Chirchik Uzbekistan housed 20,100 prisoners engaged in cotton cultivation. Cotton in Central Asia proved itself a crop particularly well suited to cultivation by forced labour. In the next decade, the Soviet regime greatly expanded the number of involuntary workers farming cotton in this region.

From November 1943 through November 1944, the Stalin regime forcibly deported seven whole nationalities from the Caucasus, Kalmyk Steppe and Crimea to Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. In total nearly a million deportees arrived in the eastern regions of the USSR during this year. Here the Soviet government placed them under the discipline and administration of special commandants of the NKVD. These commandants kept the deportees known as special settlers confined to restricted areas and under constant surveillance. A large number of these exiles ended up in southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and later Tajikistan. The Soviet government used these special settlers as a source of cheap labour for many of the local cotton kolkhozes and sovkhozes. In particular, the Karachais in the Pakhta-Aral region of Kazakhstan, Crimean Tatars in the Bukhara region of Uzbekistan and later also in Tajikistan and Meskhetian Turks in Uzbekistan worked to cultivate cotton. They lived and worked under unhealthy conditions and many of them died from diseases and ailments related to malnutrition. This involuntary labour force became an important part of the cotton economy of Soviet Central Asia during the 1940s and 1950s.

Up until 1989, the deportation of nationalities remained a taboo topic in the USSR. The relevant archives dealing with the subject remained closed and survivors of the special settlement regime were prohibited from publishing or speaking publicly about their experiences. During the 1990s, the partial opening of the Soviet archives and a more honest public evaluation of the Soviet past resulted in the publication of a large amount of primary source material on this subject. This material includes both numerous collections of government documents from the archives in Moscow, Almaty, Bishkek and elsewhere as well as numerous memoir pieces by those who lived under the special settlement restrictions. I intend to use this recently available material to write a paper on the everyday life of special settlers working on cotton kolkhozes and sovkhozes and their role in the larger regional economy. It will cover their legal status, material conditions and issues of nationality and gender. In particular, it will examine how the special settlement regime created an exclusionary legal system to exploit the labour of the deportees and the experience of the men, women and children subjected to these policies.

London as an international city

It is amazing how many different nationalities one meets in London. On this trip I talked to people from a wide variety of European, Middle Eastern and Asian nationalities. In only a week I managed to have conversations with people from more countries than most Americans can identify on a map. As best I can remember I have listed them below in alphabetical order. Despite the claims of many in the American press, nobody I encountered expressed any hatred of America. Indeed most people I talked to were quite pro-American. Sometimes I think the American intellectual elite lives in its own little isolated bubble and has no contact what so ever with the real world that exists around us.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Return to Arivaca

I got back to Arivaca yesterday. I am still finding it very difficult to connect to the internet. I gave up last night after trying for three hours without any positive results. I need to get a new ISP. Other than bad internet access the ranch in Arivaca is still the Garden of Eden. That is if Adam and Eve grew mesquite beans and prickly pear.

I had a great time on my trip to London. I ran into an awful lot of interesting people both new and old. I saw alot of old friends I did not expect to see. I thought they would have left SOAS by now. I am still the only person from my contingent of history Ph.D. students (starting date 2002) that has completed the degree. So I managed to run into half of the other members of our group. I also met with my supervisor for about an hour. He gave me some good advice and wished me luck.

The conference itself went well, although as the only historian, indeed only person from the humanities, I felt a bit out of place. My paper went well. I roped in some of my friends to come see my presentation so I would not be merely addressing policy wonks from NGOs, IFIs and other acronyms. Thanks alot to James, Valentina and Abdulhadi for showing up for my talk.

I am still digesting the information from the other papers and presentations. But, I will have more to post on issues of cotton in Central Asia later, provided I can get online. Among other things I will be writing about are migration, child labor, fair trade and the role of women in the cotton economy of the region. It will probably take a couple of weeks before I manage to cover all of these topics.

I will also have some posts on the contrast between urban London and rural Arivaca. I love both localities for different reasons. Urban and rural life both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Suburban life on the other hand has all the disadvantages of both and none of the advantages of either. You have to make choices in life. If you try to have everything you will end up with nothing.

Finally, thanks to everybody for making me welcome again in the greatest city in the world. Special thanks go out to Djene for the Turkish coffee and narghile on Saturday. An even bigger thanks goes out to Abdulhadi for the great party he hosted at Casa Blue on Friday night. Thanks alot, Habbash I really appreciated it. I hope to get to London and see everybody again sometime soon. Until then best of luck to everybody and stop on by the ranch if you are ever in the Gadsen Purchase region of Arizona.

Monday, October 31, 2005

London Calling and Breakfast with Chris and Sara

Tomorrow I will be flying to London for the cotton conference at SOAS. I will be gone a week. I probably will not be posting anything during that time. When I get back I will have more on cotton in Central Asia and other stuff of interest.

In more local news I had breakfast with Chris and Sara this morning at the community center. They are Arivaca's newest residents. They also read this blog which makes them part of an international elite of a dozen highly intelligent and wonderful people. The community center served mesquite pancakes with prickly pear syrup. They tasted quite good.

Friday, October 28, 2005

More on Cotton in Central Asia

One thing that is apparent is that cotton production in Central Asia reached its peak in the 1980s. Total production in Central Asia and Azerbaijan has gone from over 3.2 million metric tons in 1980 to a little more than 1.7 million in 2004. Twenty five years ago this region accounted for almost a quarter of all the world's cotton. Today it only produces 7%. For Uzbekistan and Tajikistan there has not been much to replace it as a source of revenue. Uzbekistan now exports some wheat and Tajikistan has aluminium and hydro power. But, increasingly these two countries along with Kyrgyzstan have been exporting labor to Russia and Kazakhstan. There are now an estimated one million Tajik citizens currently working in Russia out of a total population of less than six and a half million people. The economies of Kazakhstan and Russia are currently doing very well in comparison to their southern neighbors as a result of the export of oil. It looks like migrant workers will replace cotton as Central Asia's most important export. This will not be the first time in history that such a shift has taken place.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Reading up on cotton in Central Asia

The first batch of papers and presentations for the cotton conference arrived today. It will take me a while to read through them. In fact I will probably spend most of today learning about the cultivation and marketing of cotton from Central Asia. I will report more when I have a better grasp of the issues involved.

It was a beautiful day again today

Sometimes a song harmonizes with its surroundings. Today on the radio I heard U2's "It's a Beautiful Day" and it expressed the mood perfectly. In the paradise of Arivaca everyday is warm and sunny even in late October.

I ran out of Italian dressing today. But, Arivaca Man is clever. I marinated the wings in a mixture of prickly pear glaze and hot sauce. It was most excellent. There are no meals that are not excellent in Arivaca.

Soon the Shack will be ready to entertain guests. My parents are coming to visit after I get back from London and Chris and Sarah should be here by then. The First Annual Grand Shack Feast will be an event to remember.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cotton Conference Update

I finally got a conference program and list of participants and guests. The organizer has promised the papers and presentations by the end of the week. Which is good since I have to fly out to London on Monday. It looks like I have 19 papers to read and critique this weekend. Unlike tenured professors who whinge about grading I am not getting paid over a $100,000 a year to do this. They are giving me room and board for a couple of days.

The conference is not in Brunei as I stated earlier. It is in room 116 on the 1st floor of the main building in Russell Square. I will be giving my paper on the second day of the conference, 4 November 2005 as part of a two person panel from 11:00 to 12:10. It is the panel just before lunch.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that out of 20 participants and 12 official guests that only three have positions at universities and this includes the two organizers. Most of the participants are connected with various NGOs. The presenters are evenly split between Central Asians and people from Europe and the US. Except for Turkmenistan there is at least one paper by a presenter from each of the Central Asian states. Among the other countries represented are the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Overall it looks like it will be a very interesting conference. I am the only historian presenting at the conference. The main thrust of the other papers is on the cotton economy in Central Asia today. There are papers on the marketing of cotton, labor rights, water management, privatization and soil erosion. I am interested in seeing what comes up regarding the connection between labor rights and fair trade. If there can be fair trade coffee then certainly there can be fair trade cotton. The conditions for cultivating cotton in Central Asia are as every bit as bad as what used to exist on coffee plantations.

Chicken Shack to add Hookah Lounge

Actually, the gazeebo already serves as a hookah lounge on account of having ventilation (no walls) and anti-fire devices such as a cement floor, a fire extinguisher and big buckets of water. But, now it is going to get an official sign. It will also I hope get a divan (ie beat up old couch) sometime soon. Today the UPS man delivered six boxes of tobacco for the lounge. We have apple, rose, mint, vanilla and banana now down at Otto's. The Shack has got that South West/Middle East fusion thing almost perfected.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I was going to attempt another mini-carnival of Diasporas today. However, tracking down appropriate posts and then getting them to link is really beyond my technical abilities. The last carnival only had four links and as of now I have found even fewer pieces to post for a second carnival. I will continue to write on various diasporas that interest me such as the various deported peoples of the USSR, but my limited internet skills make hosting future carnivals too difficult. If anybody else wishes to host the Carnival of Diasporas they are welcome to take the franchise. They can also link to any of my posts.

Monday, October 24, 2005

This Week

This week I need to get everything taken care of for my London trip. I have pretty much everything ready to go. I just need to make sure I get all the job applications with impending deadlines out before I leave. Then I need to pack and get to the airport. It will be great to see old friends in London again. If anybody reading this will be in London on the 3-4 of November, I will be giving a paper at SOAS on deported peoples and cotton in Central Asia in the 1940s. The conference is in Brunei Gallery across from the main campus at Russell Square.

I have never had this much money ever

My blog is worth $13,548.96.
How much is your blog worth?

Happiness is not there it is here

It seems odd that I am so happy living in my current situation while people much more fortunate than me are miserable. Logically it makes no sense. Certainly people with much more than me should be that much more satisfied with their lives, right? Tomorrow morning I will go meditate on this question with a cup of coffee on the cement block out west by the abandoned horse corrals.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

More Thoughts on Meskhetian Turks

I have been attempting to follow the resettlement of Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar Krai in southern Russia to the US for the last couple of weeks. I have written more extensively on the plight of the Meskhetian Turks elsewhere on this blog. But, prehaps a brief summary is in order here. The Meskhetian Turks are the native population of Meskheti-Javakheti in Georgia, a territory acquired by the Russian Empire from the Ottoman Empire in 1828-1829. On 15-28 November 1944, the Stalin regime forcibly dispersed the entire population of more than 90,000 people across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Here the Soviet government placed them under special settlement restrictions. They could not leave their assigned settlements without special NKVD permits, they carried special ID cards marking them as legally inferior citizens, they had no choice in their work assignments, they had to regularly register with NKVD commandants and a set of separate and unequal laws administered by the NKVD ruled their lives. The Meskhetian Turk special settlers suffered extreme material privation during the first years of exile. Lack of sufficient food, proper shelter, clothing, shoes and medical care took a heavy toll of lives. Malnutrition, typhus and other poverty related ailments killed over a fifth of the population in less than five years. The Soviet government released them from the special settlement restrictions on 28th April 1956. Neither the Soviet or subsequent Georgian government ever allowed the Meskhetian Turks to return their homeland in significant numbers.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Meskhetian Turks had a fairly well organized national mass movement that engaged in a peaceful campaign for repatriation to Georgia. It conducted a lobbying effort using letters, petitions, meetings, peaceful demonstrations and moral appeals in an attempt to convince the Soviet government to allow them to return home. In the early 1970s, the failure of the repatriation movement led to demands to be allowed to emigrate from the USSR and settle in the Turkish Republic. This movement also failed to achieve any concrete results.

In 1989, a pogrom in the Ferghana valley resulted in a second relocation for many Meskhetian Turks. Nearly 90,000 Meskhetian Turks left Uzbekistan soon after this event. About 15,000 ended up in Krasnodar Krai, a territory with a little over five million people, mostly Russians. The local government here refused to grant permanent residency to a majority of the Meskhetian Turks and the rights to hold most jobs, attend higher education and own property that goes with such legal documentation. Their lack of legal protection exposed them to Cossack intimidation and police harassment. Officially stateless the displaced Meskhetian Turks did not qualify for refugee status according to the United Nations because they never crossed an international border. They remained in a legal limbo unable to return to Georgia, immigrate to Turkey or even go back to Uzbekistan.

At the behest of some creative people, most notably Mark Hetfield, the State Department came up with a plan to resettle Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar Krai in the US. This solution aimed to end the ongoing persecution of the Meskhetian Turks in the region. It of course does nothing to address the larger long term problem of the hundreds of thousands of Meskhetian Turks living in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and other areas outside their historic homeland. But, it did show a way out of the box created by the arbitrary definitions of citizenship, nationality and refugee status created by the ex-Soviet states, the UN and Meskhetian Turk activists themselves. None of these actors had ever considered the option of settlement outside of the former Soviet states or Turkish Republic. I will have more to write on the issues of citizenship, nationality and refugees and the example of the Meskhetian Turks in later posts.