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.