Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Things I have been talking about in class

These last two weeks my classes have been heavy on lectures about repression and ethnic cleansing. This week in Political History of the USSR I am covering the Great Terror of 1937-1938. In particular I am focusing on the Polish Operation which was the largest of the national operations during those two years. In total it resulted in 111,091 executions. (Morris, p. 760). Last week the class focused on the exile of farmers branded as kulaks to special settlement villages in the Far North during 1930. I have been trying to get the students to see the connections between these two events and the evolution of repression in the USSR from a class basis to an ethnic basis during the 1930s.

In my Migration and Borders class this week I am covering the expulsion of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe. In particular the course is covering the ethnic cleansing of the Sudeten Germans. Last week the course dealt with Stalin's deportation of the Kalmyks to Siberia and their exile under special settlement restrictions from 1943 to 1956. I assigned Elza-Bair Guchinova's article, Deportation of the Kalmyks (1943-1956): Stigmatized Ethnicity. I got some really good feedback from the class on this particular reading. Its emphasis on the experience of the Kalmyks themselves rather than Soviet policy makes it a very accessible piece.

Next week is Spring Break so I have no classes. I still have to work, but I am hoping that it will be more relaxing. A new hookah lounge has opened up near where I live and I hope to try it out before the end of Spring Break.

Source for figures on executions during Polish Operation:

James Morris, "The Polish Terror: Spy Mania and Ethnic Cleansing in the Great Terror," Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 56, no. 5 (July 2004), pp. 751-766.

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