Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Exciting Life in Arivaca

In the last two days the weather has gone from perfect to near freezing. It is cold, dry and windy with the high less than 50 F and the low below 30 F. The meterologists on the radio say this weather will continue for the rest of the week. The strong winds make it feel even colder. This is the type of weather one expects in Kazakhstan not Arizona.

We have a bunch of events scheduled in town for the Christmas season. Tonight we have a dinner and fund raiser at Arivaca's newest eatery. The RV park on Universal Ranch has decided to open a restaurant. In fact tonight is its opening night. They are serving lasagna. Saturday there is a lecture on the drought of 1920-1941 and the annual Christmas Tea at the library. A week after that is the Winter Fest at the community center and the week after that there is another fundraiser at La Gitana hosted by Banjo Dave. After that I have lost track of the festivities between now and Christmas, but there are a few more.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in Arivaca

Yesterday, my uncle and I went to the annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner at the community center. There were a lot of people there and a huge amount of very good food. I had dark turkey, fresh cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, two kinds of gravy, salad, sweet potatoes, pickles, bread, pecan pie and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It ranks as one of the best meals I have had this year.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Live at Otto's Chicken Shack

Yesterday, Chris came over to the Chicken Shack to visit. He brought along with him a fiddle and some very yummy homemade hummus. He added habernero and chipolte chilis to the hummus to give it a bit of a bite. We smoked apple shisha and talked about music, literature and film. He also played some Irish folk and Bluegrass tunes on his new fiddle. It was the first concert ever staged in the Chicken Shack. I hope to able to arrange some more live music at the Chicken Shack in the near future.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I need a new writing project

Now that I have finished writing the first draft of Catherine's Grandchildren there is a void in my life. I currently have no large writing project to work on. For the last week or so I have been giving this matter some thought. But, I have not come up with any exciting ideas for a new writing project. If anybody reading this blog has any suggestions please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.

Breakfest meeting with a local notable

Today I had breakfest with Arivaca notable Mark Dresang at his house. I am hoping he can arrange for me to give a talk here. I am naming this project "The Little Idea" to differentiate it from "The Big Idea." Someday I will come up with "The Giant Idea." But, I suspect that day is still a ways off.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Anniversary of the Deportation of the Meskhetian Turks

On 15 November 1944, the NKVD began the systematic round up and deportation of the Meskhetian Turks, Kurds and Hemshins living in Meskheti-Javakheti. By 18 November 1944 the Stalin regime had forcibly removed over 80,000 people from this region. The NKVD loaded them into overcrowded and dirty cattle cars bound for Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Between 25-28 November 1944, the NKVD completed the ethnic cleansing of Turks, Kurds and Hemshins from Georgia. During these four days the Soviet security forces deported almost 10,000 more people from Ajaria. Later, soldiers demobilized from the Red Army, individuals forcibly repatriated from Europe and others joined their kinsmen in exile. In total the Soviet government banished nearly 95,000 Meskhetian Turks, Kurds and Hemshins to Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Disease and other causes resulting from poor material conditions killed many thousands of the deportees both during the journey into exile and the years following. By 1948 the Meskhetian Turks had suffered some 15,000 such deaths. Like other deported peoples, the Meskhetian Turks lived under special settlement restrictions and in extreme poverty in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Unlike most other deported peoples in the USSR, they were never allowed to return to their homeland in the Caucasus. After their release from the special settlement restrictions in 1956, they remained banned from returning to Georgia. The issue of repatriation to Georgia still remains unresolved.

Today the Meskhetian Turks remain dispersed across Eurasia and other regions. Substantial Meskhetian Turk populations exist in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the US. The Meskhetian Turks in the US are refugees resettled from Krasnodar Krai in Russia. There is even a small community now in Tucson.


S.U. Alivea, ed., Tak eto bylo: Natsional'nye repressi v sssr, 1919-1952 gody (Moscow: Insan, 1993), vol. III.

N.F. Bugai, ed. , Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: Druzhba Narodov, 1992).

T.S. Kulbaev and A. IU. Khegai, Deportatsiia (Almaty: Deneker, 2000).

Arif Yunusov, Meskhetian Turks: Twice Deported Peoples (Baku: Institute of Peace and Democracy, 2000).

I do not have to walk to Tucson this month

I got a postcard in my mail box today. It was a small one. The return address was the Pima County Superior Court. It contained two lines of text. The first one read, "Your request to be excused from jury service is granted with regard to this summons." So for the time being I am off the hook. Of course I may get called again.

New Publication Out Now

My review of Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars' Deportation and Return by Greta Uehling is now in print. You can read it in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History vol. XXXVII (winter, 2007), pp. 457-458.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Catherine's Grandchildren

On Saturday I finally finished writing the first complete draft of Catherine's Grandchildren: A Short History of the Russian-Germans under Soviet Rule. It runs 152 pages. Upon reading the manuscript I was surprised by how well it flowed. I was anticipating it would need substantial editing. It looks like it will only need minimal editing. I should be finished with the first correction by the end of the week. Now I need readers to take a look at it and give me their opinions. If you would like to be one of my readers either send me an e-mail or leave a comment here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Unpaid Scholastic Production

I got another abstract for the Big Idea the other day. This one was on labor migration in Central Asia. Since the sender lives in Central Asia, I hope she can make it to the conference. It is a very long trip for a one day event.

The Woodrow Wilson Center has now given official approval for the book, Going Home. I have a chapter on deported peoples in the USSR in it. I am not sure when it will see print. I am told that the book being edited at SOAS on Central Asian cotton that contains my paper, A Caste of Helot Labourers, will probably be published before the end of the year. I think Border Changes in 20th Century Europe should also be out before 2007. It will contain my paper, Ethnic Erasure: Soviet Ethnic Cleansing and Return Migration. Also my paper, Suffering in A Province of Asia: The Russian-German Diaspora in Kazakhstan has been accepted for publication. It will appear as a chapter in a collected work on German diasporas to be published in Canada. In total that is four book chapters. Each one to be published in a different country. The first in the US, the second in the UK, the third in Germany and the last one in Canada.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Social Life in Arivaca

Arivaca's social calender has been rather full recently. Last Saturday there was the annual Day of the Dead celebration. Arivaca's observation of this holiday is always on a Saturday so that is why the party was two days after the actual day. On Sunday there was a wedding in the park next to the old school house. The school house was built in 1879 which makes it old by US standards. They stopped teaching classes there in 1953. Next Saturday there is a Mesquite pancake breakfest. Then things should return to normal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Addition To The Blogroll

My good friend Abdulhadi has at long last joined the 21st century and started a blog. It is a good thing too. The absolute wretched state of blogdom in general recently makes every good blog a rare fine. Abdulhadi provides that extremely rare commodity, insightful commentary on the Middle East. Go over to Abdulhadi's World and check it out.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

One Single Day

On 2 November 1943, the Stalin regime rounded up and deported most of the Karachai population from their ancestral homeland in the North Caucasus to desolate areas of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Only those young men fighting in the Red Army against Nazi Germany avoided deportation for the time being. They would be demobilized and sent into internal exile after 3 March 1944. In a single day the NKVD uprooted nearly 70,000 people from their homes and loaded them into freight trains. More than three quarters of the deportees consisted of women and children. The sudden expulsion from their homeland proved to be a traumatic event that still haunts the survivors even today.

The trip into exile took on average between two and three weeks. Each wagon car held on average more than 50 Karachais. Food, water and sanitation as well as space all proved to be inadequate during this journey. Disease spread rapidly under these conditions and took a high toll among the exiles. Many of the survivors of the trip arrived in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in poor health.

In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the Soviet government placed the Karachais under special settlement restrictions and assigned them to work on collective and state farms. The Karachai special settlers came under the authority of NKVD special commandants. They could not leave their assigned places of work and residence without special permission from the NKVD. Every month they had to register with the NKVD commandants and they had to carry special identification documents noting their inferior and stigmatized legal status.

The Karachais encountered deadly living conditions on the cotton, tobacco, sugar beet and other farms where they worked in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. They endured severe shortages of food, lived in overcrowded and substandard housing, and had almost no medical care. Malnutrition, typhus, exposure and other maladies resulting from this deprivation killed almost one out of every five Karachais during the 1940s.

Only after 1957 did the Soviet government allow the surviving Karachais to return to their homeland in the North Caucasus.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This Week's Progress

First, I will give you the good news. I got another abstract for the Conference on International Borders and Migration today. I now have five abstracts, four of which deal with immigration in Europe. I also found out that a conference paper I presented a couple months ago has been selected for publication as part of a book. Finally, I have now verified 72 scholarly works that cite my published writings.

Now, here is the bad news. I have been selected for jury duty on 30 November 2006 in Tucson. Since I have no way to get to Tucson this is a problem. Not having any transportation was not listed as one of the reasons for exemption. I am going to write to them and tell them that they will have to send somebody to pick me up and take me to the court in order for me to discharge my civic duty. If that does not work I am going to have to start walking to Tucson on the 28th of November. That is unless somebody wants to give me a ride.

I also have been informed that only one of my three recs arrived for my recent post-doc application. I have written the other two letter writers about this. I hope they can get the letters off soon. I probably did not have much chance of getting it in the first place since I do not know the correct people or hold the correct political views. But, surely this does not help my case.