Saturday, April 18, 2015

Culinary Links Between Ghana and Brazil

It turns out that most of the foods we eat here in Ghana originally came here from the Western hemisphere, particularly from Brazil via the Portuguese. Among staple foods in Ghanaian cuisine that have their origins in the Americas are cassava, plantains, maize, chili peppers, and tomatoes. Absent the Colombian exchange we would all be eating nothing, but millet, yams, and rice. There would be no fufu, red red, banku, or kenkey. Not to mention everything would be really bland because there would be no chili peppers. In fact the cuisine must of been so radically different that I am having a hard time imagining what it actually looked like. How do you eat okra without chili peppers and banku?

Friday, April 17, 2015


Today I saw a great performance of poems, songs, and dances done in Arabic, Chinese, French, Kiswahili, Russian, and Spanish put on by majors in these languages here at the University of Ghana. It was part of their celebration of Cultural Awareness Day. There was one particular male student who had absolutely stunning voice who sang in Chinese. There was also a fantastic display of salsa dancing by two students, one male and one female. The talent on display was absolutely incredible. I stumbled upon the performance accidently today due to a number of factors including one of our regular black outs. I am, however, very glad that I did stumble upon the show.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Long Overdue Update

It has been a long time since I updated this blog. Part of the reason is that I have been busy doing more important things. But, probably an even more important reason is that I haven't had anything to blog about. Things that I can blog about have been moving along at the usual pace. Classes have gone well this semester. The departmental seminar is finishing up and I managed to fill in all the holes left by cancellations. In one case by giving a half baked paper myself, but half baked is better than raw. I also met the few deadlines I had this year for journal articles and chapters in collected works. I am still finding it difficult to transition to more comparative works, but once I finish all the projects I currently have in stasis on purely Soviet history projects I will reexamine the issue.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Citations in Journalism, Social Media, and Academia

One of the things I have written about has been the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. For a long time it was a topic, like most of what I have written about, that interested very few people. But, it appears that I do seem to be getting some readers recently. In the last two days I have found this article which cites me, this tweet by a person whose identity completely eludes me, this long drawn out message board debate in Spanish about my second book, and most impressively this academic piece in Russian from a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine's Institute of History of Ukraine on the English language historiography of the Crimean Tatars under Stalin and Khrushchev. So that means that there are at least a few people that I did not know about before who have recently been reading some of the stuff I have written. I realize that I am always going to be an extremely marginal figure in the academic world. But, it is nice to know that the extremity of the marginality is just a tiny bit less than it was before. I would never have dreamed that any historians at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine would ever have heard of me yet alone considered me an important part of the English language historiography on the Crimean Tatars or anything else.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Coffee is African. So why can't I get any at the University of Ghana in Legon?

This picture actually has nothing to do with anything. I just like it. Unfortunately, there is no place on campus where you can get real coffee. All they have is that nasty Nescafe stuff that is made in a laboratory and has no real actual coffee beans in it. I am not sure why this is since Nkrumah was a strong Pan-Africanist and coffee comes from the oldest state in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia. But, every time I bring up this argument as to why they should serve me real coffee and not Nescafe people look at me like I am the craziest obruni they have ever seen. However, I am quite positive that Ghana can not hold out forever as the only country in the world still serving horrible artificial instant coffee instead of authentic real coffee.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


71 Years since the Deportation of the Balkars

Today is the 71st anniversary of the deportation of the Balkars from their homeland in the Caucasus to Kazkhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Stalin regime falsely accused the Balkars of mass treason and used this pretext to disperse them across the vast expanse of Central Asia. In total the NKVD loaded a recorded 37,713 Balkar men, women, and children onto 14 train echelons bound east during 8-9 March 1944. Like other mass deportations, the forced eviction of the Balkars coincided with a major Soviet holiday. In this case International Women's Day. The Balkars spent the next twelve years living under the special settlement regime as second class citizens.  During the first eight years they suffered over 7,000 excess premature deaths due to the harsh material conditions of their exile. The Soviet government only released the Balkars from the special settlement restrictions on 28 April 1956. After 1957, the Soviet government finally allowed the surviving deported Balkars and their children to return home to the Caucasus.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Academic Publishing

I have reached the point where I take it as a victory if a big name academic journal sends my manuscript out to peer reviewers rather than the editor rejecting it outright for arbitrary reasons. So I have cause today for a small celebration to coincide with Ghanaian Independence Day. Of course I have no hope that the peer reviewers will approve the piece for publication. But, the last piece I sent out was a lot more controversial and the peer review reports were not hostile. I found that extremely surprising. So I am banking on that.

Happy Independence Day Ghana