Saturday, May 31, 2008

Internal victim diasporas in the USSR

Americans often think of the Russian Empire as a country of emigration rather than immigration. But, the Russian Empire also took in a lot of immigrants from the late 18th century all the way through to its collapse. Among some of the largest such immigrant groups were Germans, Greeks and Koreans. All three of these initial labor and trade diasporas became victim diasporas in the USSR under Stalin. In 1937, the Soviet government forcibly relocated the Russian-Koreans from the Far East to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Four years later in 1941, the regime brutally dispersed the Russian-Germans from the Volga, Ukraine, North Caucasus and other European regions of the USSR across Siberia and Kazakhstan. Finally, during the mid to late 1940s, the government transplanted a large portion of the Greek population in the Soviet Union from Crimea, the Black Sea coast and Transcaucasia east of the Urals. The USSR seems to have been unique in transforming so many large groups descendant from immigrants into internal victim diasporas.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reflections on my first year of teaching

I have now finished teaching my first full academic year. Overall it was a very good experience. Most of the students did all of the work and did not plagiarize any of it. I hope that most of them also learned something in my classes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning English

My girlfriend has started taking English language lessons. Almost all of our conversations are still in Russian, but I have been spending a fair amount of time going over English vocabulary with her recently. Her pronunciation is quite good and she is very enthusiastic.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nationalism, Race and Ethnicity

Today I am trying to work on my syllabus for my Nationalism, Race and Ethnicity course. I would like to stress the development of ethnic categories into national and racial ones in this class. So I will be pointing to case studies where ethnic categories became politicized into national ones and then biologized into racial ones. I am still looking for reading material to assign and would greatly appreciate any suggestions. Below I have listed a couple of the pieces I will definitely be using in the class.

Francine Hirsch, "Race without the Practice of Racial Politics," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 30-43.

Alaina Lemon, "Without a 'Concept'? Race as Discursive Practice," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no.1 (Spring 2002), pp. 54-61.

Nadim Raouhana and As'ad Ghanem, "The Crises of Minorities in Ethnic States: The Case of Palestinian Citizens in Israel," International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 30, no. 3 (August 1998), pp. 321-346.

Amir Weiner, "Nothing but Certainty," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 44-53.

Eric D. Weitz, "Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet Ethnic and National Purges," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 1-29.

Eric D. Weitz, "On Certainties and Ambivalencies: Reply to My Critics," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 62-65.

Oren Yifachel, "'Ethnocracy' and Its Discontents: Minorities, Protests, and the Israeli Polity," Critical Inquiry, vol. 26, no. 4 (Summer 2000), pp. 725-756.

Friday, May 23, 2008


It is now very hot and humid here in Bishkek. I take the current weather to be a sign that summer is upon us. I have decided to stay here during the summer and go back to the US for Christmas this year. Now that classes are over I can devote my time here to doing things other than teaching. Today I finished revising a journal article for the third time. I hope I do not have to revise it again. I would like to work on other projects.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Randy McDonald's Review of The Liquidator

Randy McDonald has posted a good review of Sidonia Dedina's Edvard Benes: The Liquidator (Mountain View, CA: RPF Publications, 2001). For my own review of the book you can go here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Afghan Food

Last night I went to a dinner party sponsored by Afghan students graduating from AUCA. The food and hospitality was most excellent. It was probably the best meal I have eaten in Kyrgyzstan.

Friday, May 16, 2008


The 18th of May marks the 64th anniversary of Stalin's mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their homeland to Uzbekistan and the Urals. I do not have time this year to write an extended article on this tragedy. So instead I will refer you to the article I wrote about it last year and the one I wrote the year before that. Please feel free to leave comments regarding these events under this blog post.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almost Done for the Semester

I have now finished and posted final grades for both my Migration and Borders and Political History of the USSR classes. Now I just have to finish observing my Honors students defend their senior theses and confirm grades with my colleague Emir for my Introduction to Comparative Politics course. Then I can start working on syllabi for next semester.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


A lot of self styled "liberals" and "progressives" in Blogestan have been celebrating the 60th anniversary of Israel recently. The formation of the State of Israel involved the forced expulsion of around 800,000 Palestinian civilians from their homes (Esber, pp. 69-70). While this may be considered a "progressive" outcome in the same sense as Stalin's deportation of the Volga Germans to Siberia and Kazakhstan, it is certainly not a humanitarian one.


Rosemarie M. Esber, "Rewriting the History of 1948: The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Question Revisted," Holy Land Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (2005), pp. 55-72.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekend Reading

This weekend I read Karl Popper's The Poverty of Historicism. I agree with his criticism of historicism, but I think he could have made the argument in one page instead of a hundred and forty. But, maybe this is because I take empiricism to be self evidently superior to dogmatic interpretations according to supposed laws of history.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Victory Day

Today is a holiday in Krygyzstan. Like in Soviet times May Ninth marks the victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany. There are big billboards with sickles and hammers and red stars all over town to commemorate the occasion. In contrast to the Soviet iconography there is also a lot of capitalist activity on the streets as large numbers of vendors peddle bananas, shashlik, ice cream, beer and other goods to merry makers. This clash of socialist symbols and small scale capitalism seems to be typical of many Kyrgyz holidays.

Officially about 70,000 men from Kyrgyzstan died fighting in World War II. Considering that the total population of the Kirghiz SSR at the time was only about 1.5 million, this was a significant percentage of its young and able bodied male population. Kyrgyzstan suffered far greater military losses as a percentage of its population during World War II than did the US.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Better Ratio Today

Today I found one example of plagiarism and I graded eight final papers for Migration and Borders.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

And still I find more plagiarism

I have now graded six final papers for Migration and Borders and found three cases of verbatim plagiarism.

Plagiarism Galore

I have now graded four final papers for Migration and Borders and found two blatant cases of verbatim plagiarism.

Plagiarism Again

So far I have graded one final research paper for my Migration and Borders Class and found one case of blatant plagiarism. As in the entire paper from start to finish was lifted from the Internet. This is not a good start. I have 27 more research papers to grade for that class.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Recent Events In My Life

Right now I am mired in grading for classes and it is only going to get worse between now and Wednesday when all my research papers are due. But, a few interesting things have happened to me recently. First in the world of electronic communication I got three interesting messages. First, I got an e-mail last Tuesday from BBC asking me if the British government knew anything about Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars while the operation was occurring from 18 to 20 May 1944. I also got a request this weekend in the comments on an old blog post from a Turkish graduate student at the University of Arizona for a copy of my Ph.D. dissertation. Finally, also this weekend I got an e-mail from an old friend of mine in Sacramento that I had not heard from in over seven years. He wanted to know if I was still alive.

In the real world I got Thursday off and went with the girlfriend to Osh Bazaar to stock up on food. Food prices are rising rapidly here so we wanted to buy things like rice before they became even more expensive. Vegetables are still cheap, however.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lesson I Learned this Semester

One lesson I learned is not to assign more than four papers total to any one class. I assigned 12 short one page papers to my Migration and Borders class this semester and getting the grades calculated has taken up an enormous amount of time. I am still not through sorting them out.