Monday, July 18, 2005

Future Writing Projects

Now that I have posted on the ghosts of writing past and writing present I suppose I should say something about the ghost of writing future. My big future project is of course the current general history book I am working on, Catherine's Children: A Short History of the Russian-Germans under Soviet Rule. I am not sure what I will do once I finish it. There are a number of projects I would like to eventually tackle, but alot depends on being in locations where I have access to resources. If as I suspect I will be far away from any decent libraries and archives then my choices will of course be limited. But, still there are a number of projects I would like to take on eventually if the opportunity presents itself. Some of these are narrow academic projects. I will only write another academic book, I have written three already, if I get a position in a university, think tank or other such place. If I go back to working in a coffee shop for the rest of my life then I am going to write for a broader, more appreciative and most importantly more profitable market. At anyrate the list of possible future books is below.

A book on the forced repatriation of Russian-Germans back to the USSR in 1945 and 1946. This book could either be written in an academic style or as a popular work. Either way it would require access to the archives in DC and probably London as well. There also may be some stuff in the Estonian archives. VOMI moved some Russian-Germans from the outskirts of Leningrad to Estonia in the process of evacuating them to the Warthegau. Some did not make it out of Estonia before the Soviet reoccupation. The NKVD forcibly sent these evacuees to labor camps and special settlements in the Urals, Siberia and Tajikistan. I did at one point during the writing of my dissertation contact the US archives about their holdings on this subject. They told me that they had a huge amount of material on the forced repatriations. Nobody has gone through it since Mark Elliot made use of some of it in the mid to late 1980s to write Pawns of Yalta. Dr. Elliot himself proved to be delightful exception to the rule of rude and unhelpful American academics when I contacted him by e-mail. He was quite cordial and willing to provide assistance.

A book on the Russian-German emigration movement in Estonia during the early 1970s. I found a considerable amount on this subject in the Estonian Supreme Court archives in Tartu. In particular the activities of Bergmann, Oldenberger, Fast and Schulz. Their 1974 trial became an international event due to Sakharov's appeals to West Germany publicizing the case. I think this book could also be either popular or academic. It would, however, require another trip to Tartu. So it would have to be researched in June. Estonia in February was almost beyond my ability to endure, particularly Tartu.

A history of the Karachai and Balkar peoples. This would probably have to be an academic book. These two related Turkic peoples have a rather small population and remain rather obscure to all, but specialists on the Caucasus. Despite this I think they would make a good academic study that could take advantage of alot of good, but spread out research in Russian. There is to date very little at all written on the history of these peoples in English. A short academic monograph would be a possibility if I get some sort of university affiliated job.

A history of the Meskhetian (Ahiska) Turks from 1829 to 1989, that is from the time of the Russian conquest of Meskheti-Javakheti to the time of the Ferghana pogrom. This would be difficult without archival access in the former Soviet states. I used almost every published source in Russian to write the section of my dissertation dealing with the Meskhetian Turks. It still turned out to be less than 80 manuscript pages, double spaced. I tried without success to contact associates in Russia and Azerbaijan about getting access to archives. In particular I wanted to look at the Memorial archives in Moscow. As usual I got no help what so ever from anybody I asked regarding gaining access to these archives. People I contacted in Moscow, Almaty, Baku and even the US were less than helpful if they even responded. Some people like the American I contacted regarding the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland library and archvies in Stutgardt were downright rude. Although not as ill mannered as certain Scotsmen. Estonia was the one exception to this rule of blocking my entry to foreign archives. As a US citizen I of course have the legal right to look at my own government's archives. Well those that are declassified at any rate. I do not see this problem of access being solved anytime soon. I am not among the chosen that get to do such things.

A general history of Kyrgyzstan. Other than Martha Olcott's book on the Kazakhs there are no good national histories in English of any of the Central Asian states. I would concentrate on the territory of modern day Kyrgystan rather than the ethnic Kyrgyz. Thus I would cover the Russian, Russian-German, Russian-Korean, Meskhetian Turk, Chechen, Ingush, Balkar, Karachai, Dungan, Uigher and Uzbek populations that have lived in Kyrgyzstan as well. The book would focus primarily on the years of Tsarist and Soviet rule and conclude with independence in 1991. I am not sure if there would be any demand for a popular book on this subject. It might have to be an academic work due to the obscurity of the topic for most people.

A comparison of Soviet and Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing and racial exclusion. This book would definitely have to be a very carefully footnoted academic work due the subject matter. I have already made all the basic points regarding connections, similarities and differences in a peer reviewed journal article scheduled for publication in May 2006. What would be necessary would be to fill out this skeletal work. That would definitely require access to a very good library. I would also prefer to collaborate on this work with somebody who has a deeper background in Palestinian history than myself including an ability to read Arabic.

Well that is six possible books. I could probably write four of them if I stayed here in the DC area. I am not sure if any of them are possible to write in the wastelands of southern Arizona, hundreds of miles from any suitable libraries.

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