Friday, October 31, 2008

Encyclopedia Article Done

Today, I finally finished writing my encyclopedia article on the Russian-Germans. Somehow, I managed to compress nearly 250 years of history into a mere two thousand words. I had to cut it down from an original rough draft of nearly three thousand words. Unwriting is always harder than writing.

Another Link on ALZHIR

Kristina Gray also has a number of photographs from the museum and memorial complex built to honor the victims of ALZHIR. You can see them on this post.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Link to article on ALZHIR

My friend Kristina Gray has written a very good post on her blog about ALZHIR, the labor camp in Kazakhstan established by Stalin for the wives of "traitors."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tony Hillerman RIP

Tony Hillerman has died at age 83. I greatly enjoyed reading his novels about Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The Navajo background of his mysteries gave them an historical and anthropological edge over most other fiction in the genre. He incorporated various elements of Navajo history and culture into his plots and character development in a very entertaining manner.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Third World Problems

I notice that a lot of bloggers refer to their first world problems. I have not lived in the first world for a while so I am not sure what they are complaining about. But, I do have some third world problems. First, the power cuts are quite frequent and irregular now. Since I have an old Soviet electric stove, instead of gas, this presents nutritional problems for me. Last night, the power cuts meant that my girlfriend could not steam the manti she had made until close to midnight. It also means I can not read either for work or pleasure most nights. On the upside the black outs have greatly reduced my electric bill. It is less than a third of what it was in August.

Second, it is now cold and there is still no heat in either my flat or my place of work. To make matters worse, the owner of my flat has still not fixed the broken window on the balcony after ten months. He is infinitely better than the land lady I had during the first five months I lived in Kyrgyzstan, she was unbearable, but I would like him to fix the window before it starts snowing.

There are many things I love about Kyrgyzstan. I have a job, a girlfriend and an apartment here, all things I previously lacked. But, light and heat are bourgeois luxuries that I greatly enjoy. In fact they are two of the very few bourgeois luxuries that I bother to indulge in anymore.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cited by Black Book of Communism Author

After reaching over 100 verified citations of my published works in scholary books and journals I stopped making blog posts on them. But, the other day I found one by somebody so prominent that the citations deserve recognition. Nicolas Werth cites both of my books in his article "Crimes de mass et politiques genocidaires sovietiques" in Barbara Lefebvre and Sophie Ferhadjian, eds., Comprendre les genocides du xxe siecle comprarer-enseigner (Paris: Breal, 2007). Among other accomplishments, Werth wrote the chapter on the Soviet Union in The Black Book of Communism.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Going Home

This morning I purchased a plane ticket to fly back to the US. I will be arriving in Los Angeles at 6:15 pm on Sunday, 21 December 2008. I will be leaving the US to return to Bishkek on Friday, 9 January 2009 at 3:50 pm. If anybody in Southern California or Southern Arizona other than family wants to see me between these times please send me an e-mail.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review Coming Soon

Finally, after a very long delay I have started reading Dr. Ruth Derksen Siemens, ed., Remember Us Letters from Stalin's Gulag (1930-37) Volume One: The Regehr Family. I received the book in the summer, but have not found the time until now to seriously start reading it. The other night I got through the first 158 pages. I will post a proper review of this book when I finish reading the entire thing. But, I will note now that this collection of translated letters from a Mennonite family exiled from Ukraine to a special settlement in the northern Urals in 1931 is extremely powerful. The physical suffering in the special settlement villages due to hunger, disease and inhumane work comes through very clearly in these letters.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Website on Sudeten Germans

My friend, Dr. Rudolf Pueschel has a new website dedicated to the plight of the Sudeten Germans at the end of World War II.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Publications Out Now

I have two new book chapters in print now. The first one is “Suffering in a Province of Asia: The Russian-German Diaspora in Kazakhstan,” in Mathias Schulze, James M. Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher, and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach, eds., Germanic Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008). A description of the book is here. Here is the table of contents. Look under chapter 32. The other publication is “Loss, Retention, and Reacquisition of Social Capital by Special Settlers in the USSR, 1941-1961” in Cynthia Buckley, Blair Ruble, and Erin Trouth Hofmann, eds., Migration, Homeland and Belonging in Eurasia (Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson Center and Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2008). My contribution is chapter seven. The two chapters both deal with Stalin's ethnic cleansing during World War II.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Break in the Dark

We now have Fall Break and I do not have to teach any classes for a week. I am going to use this time to catch up on some other projects. I hope to finish my encyclopedia article in the next couple of days. Right now I have a little over half of it written. Next semester, I am not going to take on so much work.

The power cuts have become regular now. We only have power 16 hours a day. But, it is not the same 16 hours each day. It is also not the same 16 hours everywhere in the city. I noticed the post listing the power schedule for my apartment building this morning. I was on my way to work because there was no power in my building. We have no power on Sunday mornings from 6:00 am until 2:00 pm. One thing that is not readily apparent until you start living without power is that certain things like ground beef become dangerous to eat. So I am going to be avoiding certain foods that spoil rapidly without refrigeration from now on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recent Progress

I have now finished the revisions to the book manuscript and one of the journal articles. I now have one journal article and one encyclopedia article to finish writing. My recent writing seems to be focused on the history of the Russian-Germans. While I have written on a number of different nationalities in the past, all four of the pieces listed above deal specifically with the Russian-Germans. Of course, I still have five classes to teach and 45 written assignments to grade this week. Tomorrow, I only have one class to teach so I am going spend most of the day grading papers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Current Projects

Currently, I have one book manuscript to finish editing, one encyclopedia article to finish writing, and two journal articles to finish. This is in addition to teaching five classes, serving on a university wide committee, and other academic work. Needless to say this leaves little time for blogging right now. I should have some of these projects wrapped up by November. Until then I will not be writing anything too long or serious here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The CIS is in Town

The Commonwealth of Independent States will be having its annual summit in Bishkek this year. The actual meeting is on the tenth. The president of Russia, Medvedev, has already arrived in town. There are lots of signs, uniformed police and official vehicles appearing out of nowhere. I expect traffic in the center of town will be even worse than when the Shainghai Cooperation Organization held its meeting here in 2007.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I am still alive

Despite the paucity of blogging recently, I am still alive. I just have a lot of work to do. I hope to be able to finish some of it this week.