Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comparative Forced Labour Paper

Today I went back to writing my paper for the German conference in Ho on colonial forced labour in Africa. Originally it was supposed to be a conference on colonial forced labour in general, but the sponsors changed the topic on me. This is causing me some problems as I explain below. Although, I am not sure what the status of the conference is currently since none of the people who submitted abstracts in July have heard anything from the organizers in Berlin. My paper is a comparison of the conscription of ethnic Germans in Soviet Kazakhstan and Central Asia into the labour army and forced labour in Southern Africa during the nineteen forties. I wrote most of a first draft while I was in Kyrgyzstan this summer for two months. But, I had to wait until I came back to Africa to get access to the sources dealing with Mozambique. While I am not an expert on the colonial history of Mozambique, I have written about the cultivation of cotton before and much of the forced labour in this colony was devoted to the cultivation of this crop. Still I am having trouble specifically with the sections of the paper dealing with Mozambique. The rest of the paper is almost done.  Honestly, looking through the first draft my section on ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan and Central Asia reads to me as much stronger so far than the part on Africa. Now, if the original topic had been maintained I could have dispensed with the comparison with colonial Mozambique and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and dealt solely with Kazakhstan and Central Asia which I argue in the paper were semi-colonies in the USSR. It may, however, turn out that the conference gets cancelled in which case I will reorganize the article by removing the parts dealing with Africa.

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