Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walt Richmond Finally has a Blog!

My good friend and talented scholar Walt Richmond finally has a blog. He has a lot of interesting posts up on genocide, the undead, and other such topics. You can reach his blog on this link. Go check it out.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Next semester's classes

I have now finished revising my syllabi for my classes next semester. I am teaching Historiography and World History 1914-1945. Tomorrow I will print them out. Then I should be done working for this semester.

Grades now entered

I have now entered all my grades for this last semester. The only work I have left to do before I can begin my summer break now is get my syllabi and reading material for my courses next semester to the Head of the Department. I should be finished with that by tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons I learned this semester part I

Grading is my least favorite part of being a lecturer. I am glad it is over for a while now. By the end of tomorrow I have will completed entering all my grades for the semester. I have, however, learned a few small minor things. First, I am going to put it in my syllabi especially for my 200 and 300 level courses that no student will be allowed to make up the mid-term test without a valid medical excuse. Further more students will have to get this documentation to me within a week of the originally scheduled date of the test. Otherwise I am just going to give them automatic zeros. If I spell it out explicitly in the syllabus I should have fewer problems. I have never had any problems with my 400 level classes. But, I had a lot of funny business on missing the mid term in my 300 level class this last semester. So no make up assignments without proper medical documentation.

Finally getting things under control

I have now entered my grades for my classes in Legon. Tomorrow I will calculate and enter the ones for Accra. I finally got to the book store to refresh my supply of mystery paperbacks. So I tonight I will have something entertaining to read

Monday, May 28, 2012

Finished Marking

I have now finished marking all my exams. Now I just have to calculate grades and enter them. I hope to be completely done with the semester before I go to bed tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reflections on the semester

I have now just about finished working three whole semesters at the University of Ghana. In that time I have taught almost 300 students. I feel I probably could have taught a smaller number of students better. I have still not figured out any way to teach other than lecturing and assigning readings. I know many people say lecturing is an ineffective way of teaching. But, with classes ranging from 83 to 120 students and everything geared towards the final exam I have still not figured out any viable alternatives.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Getting closer

I only have 30 more scripts to grade now. I will definitely finish marking them all before Monday. Then I can calculate the grades and enter them into the system.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inching Forward

I have now finished my scripts for Legon. I now have 53 more scripts for City Campus to grade. I hope to have everything finished by Monday. I am going to be very unhappy if I have anybody else show up this weekend to complain about the mid term I gave seven weeks ago.

A little progress

Not only do I have a lot of grading to do, but now I am getting students I don't remember asking for letters of recommendation and trying to turn in late assignments after the final exam. To top it off today is supposed to be a national holiday, Africa Unity Day. At any rate I have finished grading 146 final exams of three essays each out of 224. So I only have 78 more to go.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Open Thread on Pan-Africanism

Africa Unity Day is May 25th and commemorates the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Since Nkrumah's overthrow in 1966 Pan-Africanism seems to have been in serious decline on the continent. But, it is hard to argue that what replaced Nkrumah and his vision were better in the long term. Greater economic cooperation aimed at developing the physical and human infrastructure of Africa still appears to be the best way forward. If the University of Ghana is going to be a world class university its history department can not focus solely on Ghanaian history and only cater to students from Ghana. It has to expand and the natural direction of that expansion is in a Pan-African direction. I think we are starting to move in this direction now, but it has been a long time since Nkrumah fell so there is a lot of catching up to do.

Still plugging away

I have no graded 72 final scripts. I am almost one third the way through the total. I really do wish we had smaller classes.

Still moving through the pile

I have now finished grading 60 scripts. Out of 83 students registered for my 400 level class only 58 showed up for the test. So that is 25 less exams I have to mark. I am going to go home and plow through some more of the 400 level exams. I have done seven so far. I need a break from the 300 level scripts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making my way through the pile

I have now graded 45 final exams consisting of three essays each. I have to go give my second test now. It only has 83 students.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Progress so far

Today despite a very long committee meeting and other commitments I managed to get 20 final exams graded. I am hoping I can get another 20 or so graded before I go to bed tonignt. My goal is to finish grading all 112 before Wednesday.

Very Busy Week

This week my students take their final exams. I will have about 250 finals to grade in the next two weeks. I am hoping to do them as fast as possible. I really envy people who have classes of 30-50 students rather than over 100. To be honest that is just far too many students for 300 and 400 level classes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

68 years since the deportation of the Crimean Tatars

Today marks the 68th anniversary of Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars. I do not have anything new to say on this issue that I have not already stated. My posts on this topic for 2006, 2007, and 2009 can still be viewed. This post deals with the Stalinist claims of endemic treason by the Crimean Tatars. Other pieces on the Crimean Tatars can be found here here, and here. Finally, here is a short English language bibliography on the Crimean Tatars.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Garden Egg Stew

Today I had garden egg stew with yam for lunch. Garden egg is Ghanaian for eggplant. It was really tasty. It reminded me of an Indian style puree with onions in it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I thought we resolved this in 1989

Apparently the standard western left wing orthodox view on the Internet is that all of Stalin's crimes were perfectly justified because of the Allied Intervention from 1918-1920. I don't even think Stalinists in Russia use this excuse anymore, but I could be wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Help with Historiography Again

I am thinking of assigning John Tosh's The Pursuit of History to my historiography class next semester. It was one of the books that Dr. Frank Dikotter used when he taught the historical methods class I took for my MA at SOAS. I have been rereading it and it looks like it is accessible enough to use for undergraduates here. But, I am wondering if anybody has any experience with assigning it to first or second year undergraduates and what were the results?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Subjectivity of Colonialism

While there are objective criteria that define colonial relationships such as alien political control and economic exploitation there is also a subjective element. That is a group of people have to feel that they are colonized and  demonstrate opposition to their political rule by outsiders. Hence far more people have argued that the relationship between England and Ireland was colonial than have posited a colonial relationship between England and Scotland. The existence of systems where outside political domination of ethnically distinct territories exists, but other defining factors of colonialism such as economic exploitation or a subjective view of being colonized do not exist might be defined as semi-colonial. The remaining US territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean such as Guam, Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands seem to be semi-colonial.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer Time

I have a lot of real world stuff to do in the next couple of weeks. Then I have a lot more real world stuff to do over the next couple of months. So until August or so blogging will probably be lighter than normal. In particular I will probably not be posting any heavy academic pieces during that time. Instead posts are far more likely to deal with my personal observations.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Comparative History

There are not too many people who do comparative history. Yet, I think when done well comparative history is a lot more interesting than the traditional focus on a single "nation state." I have been trying to do more comparative work. My last couple of publications have comparisons between Africa and Eurasia and I would like to continue in this vein. But, I do realize there is a strong bias against comparative work in favor of more narrow foci. Does anybody else see any merit in comparative history?


Sometimes I think my life is way harder than it should be. But, then I remember that a lot of other people have it a lot worse than me. Still it would be nice if every little thing was not such a colossal struggle all the time.


I finally got my long hippie hair cut short today. It was down past my shoulders this morning. It is now a military style buzz cut. I will say that the barber really did earn his four cedis. He spent a lot of effort clipping off the locks.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Open Thread on what is happening in the US

It is hard to believe, but it has been almost five years since I left Arivaca. Since that time I have not spent much time in the US. The longer I have been gone the more difficult I have found it has been to keep up with events in the US.

Weather in Legon

The weather is beautiful in Legon today. It is the rainy season and a couple night ago we had a massive rain storm with strong winds, lightening, and thunder. The storm knocked over a number of trees and fences on campus. But, now everything is bright and sunny here.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

More Literature

I have started reading in no particular order Jonathan Kellerman's series of mysteries staring Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware. They are not great literature, but they are entertaining. So far no Estonians have shown up in the books.

Spring Cleaning

Today I did some spring cleaning. I got the small bathroom cleaner. The sink and toilet are okay now, but the floor still needs another washing.I will give it another cleaning next week.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Help with historiography?

The two people who taught Historiography here last time have told me that they found it very challenging due to the fact that the students had difficulty grasping abstract concepts. I went to the library today and most of what they had on historiography on the shelves was several decades old. There was one book published in the mid-1980s, but it had not been entered in the system yet so I could not check it out. So I got two books from the early 1970s that appear to deal mostly with the challenge of structuralism as borrowed from French sociology to the traditional reliance of history upon narrating events. I think that these debates might be a bit outdated for 2012. Does anybody have any suggestions on what I should cover in the class? Bear in mind hat this is a 200 level class so the only history the students will have had are Introduction to Earliest Civilizations and Selected Topics in World History both of which are pretty broad and basic introductory courses. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wrapping up the semester

Today we had our last departmental meeting of the semester. It lasted four hours. But, we did get a fair amount of work accomplished. I have my new class assignments for next year. The first semester I will be teaching Aspects of World History 1914-1945 and Historiography. The next semester I will be teaching Aspects of World History since 1945, Methodology of History as well as a MPhil course on race and ethnicity. In August we will also be getting four new people. That makes a net gain of eight full time faculty since I arrived here.


It is now day three and we still have no running water. Eventually I will get used to walking across the street every morning to get a bucket of water so I can wash. But, right now it seems like an annoyance.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Life in Legon

It is reading week so there is not much happening other than students coming into my office asking for clarification in preparation of the final exams later this month. We also still have no running water.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy May Day

May Day is celebrated in Ghana. But, it is not a huge holiday. The dining hall was still open. The running water, however, decided not to come to work today. I had to go across the road to fill a bucket up from a polytank this morning. The first tank was empty, the second one locked, and only the third one gave me any water. Which proves my claim that nothing ever works in the Third World on the first or second tries. That is why it is called the Third World.