Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"A Caste of Helot Labourers"

I have put up another older published piece of mine up on my site. This one is from 2007. You can now go and read, "A Caste of Helot Labourers: Special Settlers and the Cultivation of Cotton in Soviet Central Asia: 1944-1956" there.  I figure if I am going to take the time to write these things that somebody somewhere should eventually read them. Unlike most US academics I don't care very much who constitutes my reading audience. In fact the whole idea of narrow specialists only writing for other narrow specialists is one of the major problems of academia.I have always been too much of a populist to fit into American academia.  Populism is much more accepted in Africa. At any rate I hope by putting this link here that I can garner at least one more reader for this particular piece of writing. If not then at least enjoy the awesome cartoon in the right hand corner.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Suffering in a Province of Asia"

I have put up a piece of mine from several years ago on ethnic Germans in Kazakhstan. You can find "Suffering in a Province of Asia: The Russian-German Diaspora in Kazakhstan" on my page. It is rather short, but contains ideas that are extremely unorthodox in the field of Soviet history. Please feel free to comment on it either there or here in the comments.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trying to do Modern African History

I am currently finishing up footnotes on what will be my fourth short piece dealing with Africa in some way. As long as I am in the history department here at University of Ghana it seems that such opportunities, usually book chapters, come about once a year. To date the chapter I am currently finishing is the only one to focus on Ghana. The others have focused on Togo, South Africa, and the Black Diaspora. Officially the Black Diaspora is one of the six regions of Africa according to the African Union, although much of it including the part I wrote about isn't very African. One of the problems with writing about Ghana is that I am far more interested in the early independence era than I am in the colonial era. Yet, almost all of the archives for the post-colonial era still remain completely off limits. The fact that Ghana has been independent for over fifty seven years now hasn't done anything to speed up the declassification process. I was told by K.B. Asante that it is unlikely that Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents regarding events in 1963 will be available before 2043. So while the current piece I am working on is about 1966, the local archival source base for Ghanaian history is largely limited to the years 1874 to 1957 when it was officially a British colony. That puts a lot of restrictions on the type of history that can be written using the archives here as a source. I am not sure what it is like in other African states. Do any of them have archives dealing with the post-colonial era that are open to historical researchers? Are they all like Ghana and basically only allow access to documents pertaining to the years that they were under European rule?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Writing project on 24 February 1966 coup

Yesterday I finished a rough draft of my book chapter on the role of the CIA and other US government institutions during the Johnson administration in supporting the 24 February 1966 coup against Nkrumah. I linked the pattern used by the US to support the military overthrow of the Ghanaian government to the those used earlier in 1965 in Indonesia against Sukarno and later in 1973 in Chile against Allende. True it is a rather minor insight, but given the present day deification of LBJ by radical left wing US academics I don't think it is something that could currently be published in the US. They would undoubtedly insist that it was all the fault of Republicans and that LBJ should only be praised because he signed the CRA and VRA. Fortunately, the book will be published in Germany where left wing academics have yet to establish a cult of personality around LBJ.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More Links Between Soviet and South African Apartheid

The Russian-Germans deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan in 1941 were released from special settlement restrictions on 13 December 1955 by a decree of the Presidium  of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.  This decree, however, explicitly barred the ethnic Germans freed from the special settlement restrictions from either recovering property confiscated during the deportations or returning to the areas they had previously inhabited (Auman and Chebatoreva, p. 177). In practice after 1955 the Soviet government continued to confine the vast majority of ethnic Germans in the USSR east of the Urals in Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asia. The pardon of 1955 was followed by a partial rehabilitation on 29 August 1964 which formally lifted the charges of treason levelled against the Russian-Germans on 28 August 1941. It did not, however, remove the continuing restrictions on choosing their place of residence. Instead it noted that they had become "rooted" in their new places of settlement (Auman and Chebatoreva, pp. 178-179). Despite the continued ban on Russian-Germans from returning to their previous places of settlement, a number managed to move to other European territories under Soviet rule, most notably Estonia and Latvia. Technically, this was not a violation of the 1955 decree since almost none of the ethnic Germans coming from Kazakhstan and Central Asia to the Baltic had lived there previously. The MVD of the Estonian SSR thus issued a protocol, "It is prohibited to issue residency permits for the republic to people of German ethnicity, coming in from other republics." (Ziben, p. 39). Three days later on 25 March 1972, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia issued a decree prohibiting the issue of residency permits to ethnic Germans (Ziben, p. 40). The Soviet government only restored the formal equal right of ethnic Germans in the USSR to choose their place of residency on 3 November 1972 (Auman and Chebotareva, p. 179). This decree came just a year before the UN passed the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This convention was passed by the UN General Assembly on 30 November 1973. The resolution was cosponsored by the USSR and Guinea and prohibits among other things imposing restrictions on the right of "racial groups" to choose their place of residence (Tilley et al, pp. 295-300). Under the definition of the International Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965 the restrictions prohibiting ethnic Germans in the USSR from choosing their place of residency constituted racial discrimination. It appears that the blanket legal ban on ethnic Germans choosing their place of residency was repealed at least in part so that the USSR could cosponsor the anti-apartheid convention without facing charges of hypocrisy.


 V.A. Auman and V.G. Chebatoreva, Istoriia rossiiskikh nemtsev v dokumentakh (1763-1992),(Moscow: MIGP, 1993).

Virginia Tilley et al, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law. (Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council, 2009).

V. Ziben, "Nemtsy v Estonii posle vtoroi mirovoi voiny, 1956-1991 gg." in A.A. German (ed.), Nemetskoe naselenie v poststalinskom SSSR, v stranakh SNG i Baltii (1956-2000 gg.) (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyi souiz nemetskoi kul'tury, 2003).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

LBJ was a criminal who caused massive suffering in Africa and Asia

Right now all the "progressives" are rallying around the altar to worship LBJ, a US president who contributed greatly to the repression and murder of millions of people in Africa and Asia. What is worse they are doing so by portraying this monster as the greatest hero Black people have ever had in the world. The worst thing to ever happen to Ghana since it achieved independence from the UK on 6 March 1957 was the 24 February 1966 coup overthrowing Nkrumah. That coup was only successful because it had the full support of the US government under LBJ. The declassified CIA documents are pretty clear on the fact that the desire to remove Nkrumah emanated from Johnson personally. The coup set back political and economic advancement in Ghana and all of Africa by decades. LBJ was also responsible for making sure that Mobutu was made absolute dictator of Congo for decades to come. This of course does not even touch on his policies in supporting the massacres and coup by Suharto in Indonesia which followed the same logic as his backing of the coup in Ghana. Then of course there is the whole escalation of the war in Vietnam. But, evidently signing the Voting Rights Act completely wipes out all of the tortured, dead, imprisoned, and displaced people whose suffering Johnson caused in Ghana, Congo, Indonesia, and Vietnam. I do not understand "progressives." Dear God, please give me the old hippie leftists of yore back.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

African Lives Matter Too (Baga Massacre)

While the world has been focused on the horrible murder of 16 people in Paris, Boko Haram has murdered as many as 2,000 people this last week in an attack that nearly wiped out an entire town. I don't expect this to get nearly as much attention as the events in Paris despite it being a much greater number of people. African lives have never been as valued as European lives by most people in the US. The people murdered in Nigeria were not cartoonists, their murder was not for anything they did, but instead a massacre by Boko Haram to disrupt the current presidential elections. They were murdered not for drawing offensive cartoons, but merely for existing.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

In Lieu of Concrete New Years Resolutions

Again I am trying to be aspirational here. So this year I am going to try and read more, write more, and think about negative things less. I need to do things for their own sake and not for their consequences. I am a lot more content if I let the completion of things be their own reward rather than worry about external justifications. Most of all I think I need to proceed on a track that basically ignores most of the so called "First World." Nobody in Africa can be successful if they are obsessed with an American centered or European centered view of the world. Such a path is impossible. People in Africa including myself need to work in such a way that we can be successful in terms that matter for us here not what happens among people in the US or Europe. This is sometimes hard to do because of the historical cultural dominance of Obrunistan including in the sphere of academia. This dominance has been especially oppressive in global academia in the last couple of decades. But, I can't help thinking that there are other and better ways than slavishly following the intellectual fads popular in North America. Rather than following their established paradigms what if I and other people in the former second and third worlds just ignored their rules and established a parallel body of research? I am thinking especially about the field of history here.  This has been done before and it had considerable success. It certainly can't be less successful than the current path. Any and all thoughts, comments, and criticisms are welcome.

Friday, January 02, 2015

New Years Thoughts: Doors of Opportunity

Like the picture to the right here I like to be aspirational. So I am hoping that this New Year is better than last year. I think the key thing is to avoid panic and to just get a little bit done every day. After all Africa wasn't victorious in its struggle for liberation in a day. The other thing is that I am thinking I should be looking for parallel and alternative routes for getting recognition for my ideas. I am not exactly sure how to do that, but if anybody reading this (again I like to be aspirational) has any suggestions please let me know. My first thoughts are that both new tactics and new targets are needed. Entering unlocked rooms is always easier than trying to assault iron walls with your bare head. Of course finding those unlocked doors is the hard part. There don't seem to be any maps available marking out where they lie. But, just because the only door that comes into my vision first is the locked drawbridge across from a moat filled with piranhas doesn't mean that there are not easier entrances I just have not noticed. I just need to find the doors. Consider this open thread on possible doors of opportunity.