Friday, February 28, 2014

The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Crimea

The recent Russian moves in Crimea do not bode well for the indigenous Crimean Tatar population. The dream of reestablishing the institutions and status they enjoyed in their homeland during the existence of the Crimean ASSR from 1921 to 1944 looks even more distant in the light of these events. The Crimean Tatars along with the Volga Germans were the only two nationalities with ASSRs deported by the Stalin regime that never had their territorial autonomy restored. Instead they remained exiled in Uzbekistan as most of the Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, and Balkars returned from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the North Caucasus and the Kalmyks returned from Siberia to the shores of the Caspian Sea under Khrushchev's administration. After their release from the special settlement restrictions, the Crimean Tatars engaged in a mass movement to pressure the Soviet government to allow them to return home and restore the Crimean ASSR. This movement included peaceful demonstrations, mass petitions, letters, and moving back to Crimea. On 5 September 1967, the Soviet government finally admitted that the claim that the mass of Crimean Tatars were traitors was in fact false. It was not until 1987, however, that the Soviet government actually allowed Crimean Tatars to return to their ancestral homeland in any numbers. Since that time those that have returned, abut half the population from Uzbekistan, have struggled against a great deal of Russian racism by the Russians settled on their land following their deportation. Their attempts to reestablish homes, mosques, and communities in their ancestral homeland have even encountered violence from these settlers. Such efforts look like they will be even harder in the future now that the Russian government of Putin is openly siding with the racist colonial settlers in Crimea.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anybody know what the old DDR archives have on Ethiopia?

Today I had an unexpected visitor from Leipzig who is doing a comparative study of popular opinion about the political transitions in Ghana and Ethiopia during the 1990s. I suggested to him that he might check the old East German archives regarding Ethiopia since the Honecker regime had very close relations with Mengistu. He said that was an idea that had not occurred to him. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to give a whole lot more brilliant advice, but I think there might be some useful information about Ethiopia from 1974 to 1989 in the archives in Berlin. It would also be a source easy for him to check. After all Berlin is much closer and easier to get to from Leipzig than Addis Ababa and the documents there are in German not Amharic. In fact given the close relationship between the security forces of the two states I suspect that the archives of the former DDR might actually contain a lot of interesting material on Ethiopia during the communist era. But, perhaps somebody else has already looked at these archives and can comment on what they contain?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Crimea is the Homeland of the Crimean Tatars not Russian Colonists

The indigenous people of Crimea are the Crimean Tatars not the Russian colonists settled there starting in the 19th century. Crimean Tatars were an overwhelming majority of the population of the territory as late as 1863. Indeed, the 1939 Soviet census still showed Russians as a minority of the population of the Crimean ASSR which was a multi-ethnic territory that functioned as the national-territorial formation of the Crimean Tatars. It was only after the NKVD managed to ethnically cleanse the peninsula of Germans, Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Armenians and settle their lands with ethnic Russians that Russians became a majority of the population of Crimea. In 1941, the NKVD deported the ethnic Germans who had lived in Crimea as long as the Russians to Kazakhstan. This was followed by the Nazi occupation and the murder of most of the peninsula's Jewish population including the indigenous Crimean Tatar speaking Krymchaks. Finally, in 1944 the Stalin regime deported the Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Armenians, and Bulgarians and settled Russians in their place afterwards. It is only as a result of this ethnic cleansing and colonization that Russians became a majority of the population of Crimea. So if Crimea belongs to any one national group it is certainly not the Russians. It is the Crimean Tatars and they have expressed an overwhelming desire to keep their homeland as part of the Ukrainian state.

Small World

I live and work in Ghana, but a lot of the fiction I read takes place in the US. Right now I am reading Harlan Coben's, The Innocent which is an entertaining thriller that takes place mostly in New Jersey. Although it does have a Nevada connection. I purchased the book because I had read and enjoyed some of Coben's Myron Bolitar series. All of which also take place in the US. So I was reading a US novel set in New Jersey tonight in Ghana and came across this particular passage:

The driver was dark-skinned and spoke with some sort of African accent. Matt gave him their address in Irvington. The driver was chatty. He was from Ghana, he told them. He had six children. Two of them lived here with him, the rest were back in Ghana with his wife. (p. 229).
I am beginning to suspect that Ghanaians like Estonians are everywhere, but nobody realizes this until they actually have a connection with the country.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking for articles on state violence and terror in Ethiopia 1974-1991

Like most of the territory of the Russian Empire Ethiopia was a multi-ethnic state that came under control of a ruthless communist regime. In 1974 a communist coup overthrew Emperor Halie Selassie and sought to radically transform Ethiopian society along socialist lines through the use of violent state force. In 1976-1978 the regime conducted a "Red Terror" aimed at destroying all political opposition to the new regime through a campaign of arrests and killings claiming at the very least tens of thousands of victims. This was not the only incident of mass violence by the state. From 1984 to 1986, the regime forcibly resettled nearly 600,000 people according to its own records of which over 30,000 perished due to hunger and disease in their new places of settlement. Ethiopia thus seems like a very good African case study for the use of state violence and terror by a socialist state. Yet, I am having trouble finding studies on this topic in English. If anybody has any sources on the topic especially journal articles I can access through JSTOR or other electronic means please let me know.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Khmer Oldies Rock-n-Roll- VOL.01

This album of old Cambodian rock and roll songs from the 1960s and 1970s is simply awesome.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why so many people are fleeing Eritrea

Today it was brought to my attention by Sam Tranum that the second largest group of people after Syrians fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy are Eritreans. Large numbers of Eritreans have also fled to neighboring countries and as far afield as Israel and Canada in recent years. The widespread use of forced labor of men and women conscripted into permanent and very poorly compensated military units appears to be one of the chief motives for fleeing the country. Such forced labor of course is not new to Africa. The French colonial authorities also conscripted men in West Africa into military units used principally for forced labor. While the Portuguese and Belgians did not even bother with a military pretext to press men into labor gangs. The massive scale of forced labor used by the state in Eritrea along with other repressive measures to maintain the current dictatorship in power has led to a mass exodus from the country. An exodus that has not been stopped even by the shoot to kill orders issued to border guards regarding people fleeing from the country. Human Rights Watch estimates that 1,500 Eritreans flee the country every month. Their 2013 report on Eritrea can be found here.

Seventy Years since the Deportation of the Chechens and Ingush

The 23rd of February marks the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this piece which interviews two survivors of the deportations, one of them a Red Army veteran who fought against the Nazis contrary to the Soviet libel that the Chechens committed mass treason. I have written a lot on the deportation here in previous years and don't really have much more to add.  So here is a list of some of my previous posts on the subject.

63rd anniversary

64th anniversary

65th anniversary

68th anniversary

69th anniversary

Update: This BBC article with small snippets of interviews from survivors of the deportation was published in 2004 for the 60th anniversary, but is still well worth reading.

New Update: The BBC also had an article quoting survivors of the deportation for the 70th anniversary this year.

The Coup - 24 February 1966

The 24th of February marks the 48th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. The coup had an extremely detrimental effect on the subsequent development of Ghana. In particular it seems to have permanently damaged the national psyche of the country. The energy, optimism, and innovation of the Nkrumah era of 1957-1966 has never been fully restored. The idea of modernizing Ghana as an industrial state seems to have permanently died with the removal of Nkrumah from power. But, no subsequent government has come up with a better plan. Indeed no country in the world has ever become rich without actually producing value added products. The countries that became rich in the 19th and 20th century all followed a common pattern of industrialization that allowed them to produce goods for either domestic consumption or for export. No country has become rich exporting only low value raw materials and importing much more expensive value added goods from abroad. Nkrumah made a serious attempt to change this pattern in Ghana. Since his overthrow there has been no serious support from the Ghanaian government for creating an indigenous industrial base in the country. Instead the major exports remain gold, oil, and cocoa rather than any manufactured goods such as pharmaceuticals, textiles, and processed foods. The advantage of exporting manufactured goods is that it transforms the labor of the workers into hard currency at a much higher margin than the extraction and export of unprocessed raw materials. Countries far poorer than Ghana was in 1957 such as South Korea have managed to become rich by exporting manufactured goods in the last forty years. There is no reason other than a lack of leadership committed to such a result that Ghana can not also follow the pattern of the Asian Tigers. But, the 1966 coup seems to have permanently destroyed any commitment to such a development by the Ghanaian political elite. Instead we are left with a situation where there is little real support for creating a economy based on the export of manufactured goods rather than raw materials.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Current small writing project

This winter is the 70th anniversary of  Stalin's mass deportation of four small Muslim nations from the North Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The first were the nearly 70,000 Karachais on 2 November 1943. This was followed by the deportation of nearly 500,000 Chechens and Ingush (Vainakh) from their Caucasian homeland to areas of special settlement in Central Asia on 23-29 February 1944. Finally, the NKVD uprooted almost 40,000 Balkars, a people closely related to the already deported Karachais, on 8-9 March 1944. Interestingly enough all of these deportations as well as the 27-28 December exile of over 90,000 Buddhist Kalmyks to Siberia took place on or just before major Soviet holidays. February 23rd is Red Army Day and March 8th is International Women's Day.

At any rate I am currently working on finishing an article on the subject of the North Caucasian deportations and like everything else finding it going slower than anticipated. I have 20 pages of text or 6,500 words written so far and I am aiming for about 9,000. But, it still needs a lot of editing before it is ready. That is the problem with first drafts. They are always rubbish. However, you have to write them before you can write the better second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh drafts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More on the perennial currency crises in Ghana

The Ghanaian government is desperately trying to shore up the value of the cedi so it doesn't become completely worthless versus the dollar. One major initiative by the government is to seek the help of China in guaranteeing the value of the cedi. But, the various measures to shore of the currency taken every year never deal with the fundamental problem that Ghana is a country with an elite that has a huge demand for expensive imports that have to purchased in dollars while at the same time failing to produce enough value in exports to buy those dollars. The result is that the cedi constantly loses value because there is a huge demand for dollars in comparison to the demand for cedis. One possible currency solution might be to peg the cedi to the dollar rather than float it as have a number of other countries such as Lebanon or get rid of the cedi completely and use the dollar instead as Ecuador does. However, ultimately people in Ghana have to be able to produce something in order to have money if they are going to purchase goods from outside the country. To import goods you have to export value added goods to have money. Otherwise there is no way to afford imports.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another African PhD

Today the first of four PhD candidates in history scheduled to complete their degree this semester presented his viva successfully. We now only have three more to go. The thesis was on one of several ethnic conflicts in the northern part of Ghana that have perennially flared up since the British brought indirect rule to the region in 1932. These chieftaincy disputes always strike me as odd occurring in a republic. How can you have conflicts involving monarchs in a republic? But, the presenter did an excellent job of summarizing his findings.  The viva was followed by a free lunch at the Guest Center which is always a good thing.

A Partial Timeline of Ukraine including Crimea under Soviet Rule

1917 - February - Overthrow of Tsar
1917 - October - Bolshevik Revolution
1917 - December - Cheka Founded
1918- January - Ukrainian independence declared
1918 - September - Red Terror declared
1919 - March - Politburo established
1920 - April - Poland invades Ukraine
1920 - October - Polish-Soviet armistice
1920 - November - Red Army defeats Wrangel and takes Crimea
1921 - March - NEP
1921-1922 - Famine
1922 - December - USSR founded
1924 - January - Lenin dies
1928 - May - Shakhty Trial
1929 - Forced collectivization and dekulakization begins
1930-1932 - Mass deportation of kulaks to special settlements by OGPU
1932-1933 - Holodomor
1936 - Deportation of ethnic Poles and Germans from western Ukraine to Kazakhstan by NKVD
1937 - 1938 - The Great Terror
1939 - August - Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
1940 - 1941 - Mass deportations of ethnic Poles and Jews from western Ukraine by NKVD
1941 - June - Nazi invasion of USSR
1941 - August - First NKVD roundups of ethnic Germans in Ukraine for forced labor in the labor army
1941- August - Deportation of ethnic Germans from Crimea by NKVD
1941 - September - Nazis occupy Kiev
1941 - September - Mass deportation of ethnic Germans from eastern Ukraine to Kazakhstan by NKVD
1944 - May - Mass deportation of Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan by NKVD
1944- June -Mass deportation of Crimean Armenians, Greeks, and Bulgarians eastward by NKVD
1945 - February - Yalta Conference
1947-1948 - Deportation of western Ukrainians to Siberia by NKVD in course of fighting against UPA
1946-1947 - Famine
1954 - Crimea transferred from RSFSR to Ukrainian SSR
1961 - Soviet government closes Monastery of the Caves
1964 - April - Fire at Ukrainian Academy of Sciences
1970 - Ukrainsky Visnik founded
1972 - January - Widespread arrests among Ukrainian dissidents
1972 - May - Shelest removed as first secretary of Ukrainian CP and replaced by Shcherbitsky
1976 - Ukrainian Helsinki Watch Group founded
1989 - July - Coal miners strike in Donbass
1989 - September - Rukh founded
1991 - December - Ukrainian referendum on independence passed overwhelmingly

Sources: Georffry Hosking, The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from within, Second Enlarged Edition, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), pp. 503-517 and Nicolas Werth, Chronological Index: Mass Crimes under Stalin (1930-1953).


The struggle for freedom is one that never ends. Even after the colonial power has left it often continues to maintain neo-colonial influence over the newly independent former colony. In Africa many countries are still neo-colonial states with regimes that rule in the interests of a small indigenous elite and their former colonial masters in Paris. In Ukraine there is currently a revolution to achieve permanent and true independence from Russian rule. This is not the first such revolution in Ukraine. In 1918-1921 there was a briefly independent Ukraine and the years after WWII saw the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) fight a desperate guerrilla war in western Ukraine to resist the forcible Sovietization of the parts of the country under Polish rule before 1940. Today there is a bloody struggle in the streets of Ukraine to create a Ukrainian state independent of Russian neo-colonialism. My hopes and prayers are with the people of Ukraine in this struggle.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This Morning

Today I picked up the laundry I left at the Starwash because I was listening to a lecture on the social geography of Accra when they closed yesterday. Then I got some koko and koose for breakfast before I started work. Today I taught my post-graduate course on the history of ethnicity and "race". I had exactly one student show up. I had been told that there were three students enrolled for the class. But, today a co-worker of mine told me that the other two first year MPhil students had dropped out of the program. I still have to officially verify this, but it seems likely that I will be teaching one student for three hours a week every Tuesday morning this semester. What is more the preparation for that class requires between 200 and 400 pages of reading a week. So this particular student will be very labor intensive. If he is indeed the only post-graduate student left from his cohort then he will be the only student taking three classes a week from three different lecturers in the history department. A faculty to student ratio of three to one has got to be some type of new record.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Assume an audience...

Assuming for the sake of argument that I have some readers left. I know that I could be wrong on this point I have been in the past, but like many people in Africa I am eternally optimistic in the face of bad news. So assuming that I have at least one reader left who might actually read and respond to this post here is my question. What type of blog posts would you like to see here? The empirical evidence suggests that nothing I post generates any interest beyond a few family and friends. If that is the case then perhaps this blog should lean towards becoming a journal of my daily doings in Legon and Accra. My life is not terribly exciting, but if my only readers are people who want to keep up with what I am personally doing then maybe that is the way to go. Perhaps my next purchase for myself which will be a ways away will be a camera so I can post pictures. Then these people could see some of Ghana or at least pictures of my thumb. But, I think I could manage some pictures of both paved and dirt roads. Another possibility is that I could turn this into a blog devoted entirely to academic notes for my own use. That would probably eliminate my few readers so I am reluctant to do it. Or I could make it an all music blog, either all African or including other continents. I think that would probably eliminate all of my readers as well. But, I could organize a really cool collection of music links to listen to while working at night. Or maybe I should just concede that I am never going to reach my decade long goal of increasing my readership up to a dozen and cease asking these type of questions?

The Social Geography of Accra

Today I saw a rather interesting presentation by Ato Quayson from the University of Toronto with the title Ethno-Politics, Colonial Space Making, and Town Planning, 1650s to 1950. Accra is a strange city in that parts of it were well planned by the British colonial administration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and other parts of it were built from the bottom up with very little guidance from above. The result is that you have the persistence of socially-economic differentiated neighborhoods that can date their origins back to colonial times. There is for instance the area running from Victoriaborg through Catonments to the area around the airport which has been subject to a great deal of urban planning. That particular corridor of the city has also been wealthy for a long time. The persistence of colonial era economic inequality in residential housing has survived the elimination of racial segregation under the last years of British rule, independence in 1957, the coup in 1966, the coup in 1972, the coup in 1979, the coup in 1981, and the hopefully permanent return to civilian rule in 1994. There was a lot more covered in the talk, but this particular aspect stood out for me. It seems none of the many radical political changes that have occurred in Ghana have fundamentally altered which neighborhoods in Accra are rich and which ones are poor. This geography has been stable even though the demography of the city has changed significantly since colonial times. Most notably the percentage of indigenous Ga residents has steadily decreased in the 20th Century as Akan speakers and other migrants have moved to the capital. So despite ethnic changes the lines dividing areas of Accra into rich and poor neighborhoods remain more or less the same.

In Togo and 13 other African States French colonialism never really ended

French neo-colonialism is one of the more evil things that still exists in this world. For all intents and purposes the French unlike the Germans in 1914-1918 never gave up real control of their colonies in Africa. Instead they put puppet regimes in charge of most of them and continue to this day to control the finances and resources of 14 former African colonies. France also maintains virtual military protectorates over these states. This article goes into extensive detail about how French neo-colonialism in Africa works in actual practice. When American "progressives" praise things like French health care they should be aware that it is funded in part by the continued exploitation and impoverishment of people in Africa. France is rich in large part because it has made much of Africa poor by stealing its wealth. The record of France in overthrowing African governments, exploiting African resources and people, and propping up brutal African dictatorships is far worse than anything the US has ever done on the continent. But, white American "progressives" give France a complete and total pass on all of its ongoing crimes in Africa because it provides health care to the rich white people living within her European borders. Just more evidence that white "progressives" are in reality far more racist against Black Africans than any poor crackers living in Mississippi.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Curved Air - Backstreet Luv

A musical interlude for your enjoyment.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sixty Nine Years since the Fire Bombing of Dresden

Although any discussion of Allied war crimes during WWII is generally taboo still even today it should be noted that 13-15 February 2014 is the 69th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden.

Happy 102nd Birthday Arizona!

On 14 February 1912, Arizona became the 48th state in the US. It thus became the last of the lower 48 states admitted to the union. Only Alaska and Hawaii gained statehood after Arizona.

72 Years Since GKO Order 1281ss

By February 1942, the Soviet government had already exhausted the original cohort of deported Russian-German men ages 17-50 subjected to mobilization in the labor army under GKO Order 1123ss issued on 10 January 1942. This decree had a quota of 120,000 men, but the Soviet government only managed to conscript about 93,000 deported Russian-German men by the middle of February. In response the Stalin regime issued GKO Order 1281ss on 14 February 1942 subjecting Russian-German men aged 17-50 who had been living in Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and other eastern regions of the USSR before 1941 to induction in the labor army. This decree resulted in the conscription of an additional 40,864 Russian-Germans into the labor army. These men mobilized from Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Urals were sent to work on the South-Ural Railroad, and in the Bogoslovlag and Tagillag labor camps as well as other places. Already by the summer of 1942 the NKVD was reporting extremely high mortality rates among the Russian-Germans conscripted into the labor army and sent to work in labor camps in the Urals. Because the victims of this particular crime against humanity were ethnic Germans and the perpetrator the Soviet Union it has received almost no attention in the English speaking world.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When will neo-colonial economics ever end?

How can a problem and its solution be known for decades and never be solved? The local currency continues to lose its value against the dollar because there is a high demand for expensive value added imports that have to be purchased in dollars. Rather than taking advantage of this difference to export manufactured goods abroad like China, Ghana instead continues to be heavily reliant upon the extraction of just a few unprocessed resources. There was recently a five week strike of dock workers refusing to load cocoa on to ships for export. Cocoa is the single largest foreign exchange earner for the country of Ghana. This meant that while Ghana was still importing a huge amount of finished goods that had to be paid for in dollars it earned no money from its single largest revenue generator. This has seriously depressed the value of the Ghanaian Cedi and with it my salary. When I first arrived in Ghana in 2011 the exchange rate was $1 to 1.6 cedis. It is now $1 to 2.55 cedis. There are quality goods that Ghana produces that it could produce in mass quantities to satisfy both domestic demand and create an export market. These goods include pharmaceuticals, textiles, and processed foods like shito sauce, ground nut paste, and fruit juice. But, except for shito sauce none of these goods are produced in sufficient quantity even to meet domestic demand. Throughout Ghana you see pharmaceuticals imported from Europe, textiles imported from China, ground nut paste imported from the US, and fruit juice imported from Turkey and South Africa.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Africa and Oil

Africa has a lot of resources including oil. But, some of the richest oil producing countries on the continent such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola also have some of the largest masses of truly impoverished people in Africa as well. For the most part oil revenue in sub-Saharan Africa has not gone to benefit the people living in these states. Instead oil money in Africa has tended to be split between corrupt indigenous elites and foreign, mostly European owned companies. While there is much to criticize about the regimes in oil rich Arab states, many of them have done a much better job than Black African states in using that wealth to benefit their own people. One need only compare the state of most people in Equatorial Guinea  or Angola with that of citizens in Kuwait, Qatar, or the U.A.E. Indeed there is no reason other than the existing and previous corrupt dictatorships for the fact that people in Equatorial Guinea are not as rich as Kuwaitis. People in the west are often far more critical of oil rich Arab states than they are of similarly endowed African states. But, there can be no doubt that almost all of the oil rich Arab states have governments who have done more to improve the social and economic conditions of their indigenous populations using their oil revenue than have any of the oil rich Black African states. The states south of the Sahel would do much better emulating the oil policies of their Arab brothers than continuing their current failed policies of reserving almost all of their oil revenue for foreigners and a handful of indigenous elites.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Next Week

This week is going to be busy. I have my first classes of the semester to teach, some paper work to complete, a journal article to finish, and other stuff to do.  My undergraduate class for main campus is at 7:30 am on Thursday. I taught a 7:30 am class a year ago. It was on Monday which which is considerably worse than Thursday. But, still I would much rather have a 9:30 am class.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Graduate Course Syllabus

History of Ethnicity and Race
HIST 604
Semester Spring 2014
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: TBA

Course Description: This a graduate level course examining the concepts and practices related to ethnicity and race in an historical context. In particular the course will focus on ethnic and racial formation, the history of racism and ethnic and racial discrimination, and the role of the state in such categorization and persecution. A special emphasis will be placed on examining the most extreme forms of ethnic and racial persecution such as apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The first part of the class will focus more on theoretical works dealing with ethnicity and race while the second half will deal more with specific case studies. Among those case studies that will receive significant attention are the Soviet Union, ethnic Germans and Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, Chinese in South East Asia, Palestine, and South Africa during apartheid.

Requirements: This course is a discussion orientated seminar. That means that most of the talking in class should be done by the students and not the lecturer. In order to best prepare for such discussions it is imperative that students thoroughly read the assigned material prior to coming to class. It is also necessary for them to have thought through the issues and questions brought up in the reading.  The grade for the class will be based on a 3,000 to 4,000 word bibliographic essay discussing the historiography of a particular ethnic or racial conflict and a final exam. The essay will count for 30% of the total grade and the comprehensive final exam will count for 70%.


The instructor will provide the students with electronic copies of all of the readings.

Grading: The grade will consist of one 3,000-4,000 historiographical essay and a final exam worth 30% and 70% respectively.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus

Week two: Ethnicity

Read: John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith, eds., Oxford Readers: Ethnicity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Week three: Ethnicity and Nationalism

Read: Walker Connor, Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).

Week four: Race

Read:  Kennan Malik, The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society (Houndsmills, UK: Palgrave, 1996).

Week five: Race, Ethnicity, and Class

Read: John Rex, Race and Ethnicity (Buckingham UK: Open University Press, 1986) and Etienne Balibar, “Is there a ‘Neo-Racism?’” in Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London: Verso, 1991), pp. 17-28.

Week six: The Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity

Read: George Fredrickson, The Comparative Imagination: On the History of Racism, Nationalism and Social Movements (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997) and Peter Blitstein, “Cultural Diversity and the Interwar Conjuncture: Soviet Nationality Policy in its Comparative Context,” Slavic Review, vol. 65, no. 2, (summer 2006), pp. 273-293.

Week seven: Diasporas

Read: Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid, eds., Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (London: University of Washington Press, 1997) and James Clifford, “Diasporas,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 9, no. 3, (August 1994), pp. 302-338.

Week eight: Ethnic Construction in the USSR

Read: Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (London: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Week nine: Ethnic Cleansing

Read: Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth Century Europe (London: Harvard University Press, 2001) and Steffan Prausser and Arfon Rees, eds., The Expulsion of the ‘German’ Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War (San Domenico, Italy: European University Institute, 2004).

Week ten: Genocide

Read: Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan, eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Tilman Dedering, “The German-Herero War of 1904: Revisionism of Genocide or Imaginary Historiography?,” Journal of Southern African Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, March 1993, pp. 80-88.

Week eleven: Race in Palestine and South Africa

Read: Tilley et. al, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law (Cape Town: HSRC, 2009) and Oren Yiftachel, “’Ethnocracy’ and its Discontents: Minorities, Protests, and the Israeli Polity,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 26, no. 4 (summer 2000), pp. 725-756.

Week twelve: Ethnicity in the USSR after Stalin

Read: Rasma Karklins, Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Below (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986) and Chapters 1-2 in Valery Tishkov, The Mind Aflame:  Ethnicity, Nationalism, & Conflict in and after the Soviet Union (London: Sage Publications, 1997), pp. 1-43.

Week thirteen: Race in the USSR

Read: Eric 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; Francine Hirsch, “Race without the Practice of Racial Politics,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), pp. 30-43; Amir Weiner, “Nothing but Certainty,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002), pp. 44-53; Alaina Lemon, “Without a ‘Concept’? Race as Discursive Practice,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2001), pp. 54-61; Eric Weitz, “On Certainties and Ambivalences: Reply to my Critics,” Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1 (spring 2002); pp. 62-65;  J. Otto Pohl, “Soviet Apartheid: Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations , Special Settlement Restrictions, and the Labor Army: The Case of the Ethnic Germans in the USSR,” Human Rights Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (June 2012), pp. 205-224.

Syllabus for Aspects of World History since 1945

Aspects of World History since 1945
HIST 438
Spring 2014
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: Thursday 7:30am -9:30am JQB 24

Course Description:

This course is a survey course of world history since the end of World War II in 1945.  It examines the history of the world from 1945 to 1991 in the context of the Cold War between the US and the USSR. The course will focus on the foreign policies of the US and USSR and their effect on other regions of the world. Among other events the course will cover the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, the Arab-Israeli wars, the Vietnam War, and the emergence of newly independent states in Africa. Within the Soviet – US conflict the course will pay special attention to the socialist emphasis on the collectivization of agriculture versus traditional forms of agriculture. The course will look at the extension of collectivized agriculture based on the Soviet model to the Baltic States and Western Ukraine, Vietnam, and parts of Africa. The course will also deal extensively with the displacement of large numbers of people due to war and ethnic cleansing and the long term ramifications of such forced migration. In particular the course will look at forced migration in Europe and the Middle East. Other themes we will touch on are economic development, the emergence of international organizations, and the collapse of European colonialism in Asia and Africa.


The goal of this class is to give students a general frame work of the history of the conflict between the US and USSR and other major international events from 1945 to 1991. Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.


The readings are taken mainly from three books. These books are Geoffry Hosking, The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within, Second Enlarged Edition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), Martin Walker, The Cold War: A History (NY: Henry Holt and company, 1993), and Robert McMahon, The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2003). There are also a number of shorter readings, mostly journal articles. The instructor has copies of all the assigned readings and will make them available to the students. The shorter readings are listed below.

Clapham, Christopher, “Revolutionary Socialist Development in Ethiopia,” African Affairs, vol. 86, no. 343, (April 1987), pp. 151-165.

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

Hayden, Robert M., “Schindler’s Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers,” Slavic Review, vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 727-748.

Khalidi, Rashid, “Observations on the Right of Return,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Winter 1992), pp. 29-40.

Luke, Timothy, “Angola and Mozambique: Institutionalizing Social Revolution in Africa,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 44, No. 3 (July 1982), pp. 413-436.

Raymond, Chad, “The Insoluble Internal Conflicts of Agricultural Collectivization in Vietnam,” Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 15, no. 2 (2001), pp. 41-70.

Scott, James C., Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1998).

Statiev, Alexander, “Motivations and Goals of Soviet Deportations in the Western Borderlands,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 28, No. 6 (December 2005), pp. 977-1003.

Ther, Philip, “The Integration of Expellees in Germany and Poland after World War II: A Historical Reassessment,” Slavic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 779-805.

Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam, attending tutorials, and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 25%, attending tutorials 5% and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade. Students must attend at least seven of the ten tutorials to get the 5%. Otherwise they will get 0% for this component of the grade. Students who miss the mid-term will only be allowed to make it up if they have a valid medical excuse from an appropriate health care professional. This excuse must be documented and provided to the instructor within less than one week after the originally scheduled date of the mid-term. Students who do not provide such documentation or provide it after the one week deadline will receive an automatic zero for the mid-term. If there is a UTAG strike it will not alter the timing of the mid-term.  I will deliver the mid-term as scheduled regardless of any industrial action, particularly since such actions usually only require a withdrawal of teaching service and do not effect testing.

Plagiarism Policy: I have a zero tolerance policy regarding plagiarism. If I catch any student plagiarizing once I will fail them for the assignment. If I catch them a second time I will fail them from the class. Plagiarism includes any verbatim copying from a source without using quotation marks or setting the text up as an indented single spaced block quotation. This includes putting down large chunks of memorized verbatim text on in class exams. While the standard is more lenient here than for take home exams, putting down whole paragraphs that are word for word the same as other people’s writings without attribution is still unacceptable. If I find that more than five words in a row in your paper show up in the same order as a Google search and you do not have the words in quotation marks or set up as a block quotation I will fail you. Putting a footnote, endnote or other citation after the copied words without the quotation marks or block quotation form is still plagiarism, you are claiming to have paraphrased verbatim text, and you will still receive an F. Taking text from a source without citing it and rearranging the words so it does not show up in a verbatim Google search is also plagiarism. I will also do Google searches to see if you have taken text and merely rearranged the words. You must either paraphrase the sentence by putting it completely in your own words and citing it in the proper format or quote the actual text verbatim complete with proper citation. Completely paraphrasing sentences in your own words, but neglecting to cite the source of information is also plagiarism. All information that would not be known to the average person on the street with no university education must be cited. When in doubt always cite a legitimate source. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. Books published by university presses and academic journal articles found on JSTOR are legitimate sources. Other sources may or may not be legitimate. Using Wikipedia or other illegitimate sources will result in a reduction of one letter grade for each citation.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus

Week two: The US and USSR after World War II and the Start of the Cold War

Read: Hosking, pp. 296-325; Statiev, pp. 977-1003; Walker, pp. 1-28; McMahon, pp. 1-15.

Week three: Europe in the wake of World War II

Read: Hayden, pp. 727-748; Ther 779-805; Walker, pp. 28-58; McMahon, pp. 16-34.

Week four: Asia and the Middle East in the wake of World War II

Read:  Raymond, pp. 41-70; Esber, pp. 55-72; Khalidi, pp. 29-40; Walker, pp. 59-82; McMahon, pp. 35-55.

Week five: The 1950s: Khrushchev vs. Eisenhower

Read: Hosking, pp. 326-362; Walker, pp. 83-135; McMahon, pp. 56-77.

Week six: Mid-term examination. The exam is worth 25% of the total grade.

Week seven: The 1960s: Cuba, Vietnam and other Conflict Zones

Read: Walker, pp. 136-206; McMahon, pp. 77-104.

Week eight: The USSR during the Era of Stagnation and the US at Home

Read: Hosking, pp. 364-445; McMahon, pp. 105-121.

Week nine: The Twilight of the Cold War

Read: Walker, pp. 207-277; McMahon, pp. 122-142.

Week ten: “Socialism” and Development in Africa

Read: Scott, pp. 223-261, Luke, pp. 413-436, and Clapham, pp. 151-165.

Week eleven: The End of the Cold War

Read: Walker, pp. 278-357; McMahon, pp. 143-168.

Week twelve: The End of the USSR

Read: Hosking, pp. 446-501.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


I am on the tail end of a bad cold I think I probably caught from somebody at the conference in Ho. So I have been a bit slower than normal. I should be fully recovered by the time classes start again next week, however. I will be teaching the same classes I taught spring semester last year.