Sunday, May 14, 2017

On the Tuvel Affair

Regarding the Tuvel controversy there is something that I have not seen brought up. That is the difference between ethnicity and race. Ethnicity is often racialized and the term ethno-racial is a useful one. But, such racialization is dependent upon the prevailing legal and social norms in a particular time and place. To be succinct, an ethnic group is defined by culture and membership is partly voluntary. More importantly it is possible to assimilate in and out of ethnic groups over generations. Race is in contrast defined by ancestry or lineage regardless of culture or individual preference and is imposed from outside either by the state or a larger society. Assimilation into and out of racial groups is generally quite difficult and almost always requires actual genetic mixing. However, a given group can be ethnic in one context and racial in another. To give a simple example, Jews were classified as a racial group in Nazi Germany. They are an ethnic group in the US today. Under this dichotomy it is quite possible for somebody to change ethnicity through acculturation and assimilation. It is certainly possible to bring up your children in an ethnicity other than the one you are born into. It is not generally possible to bring them up as another race. This gets confused by the fact that ethnicity can be racialized or deracialized by the state and society. So "transracialism" except in the case of people "passing" and their descendents being accepted into the new group isn't really possible. But, assimilation into ethnicities that had been previously racialized is possibe. The problem with the one example given by Tuvel is that Black is still a racial and not yet an ethnic category in the US.

Followup on Question

In relation to the last post, Beria's official justification for the deportation of Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins from Georgia in November 1944.
In response to the resolution of the State Committee for Defense, the NKVD undertook to resettle from the border regions of the Georgian SSR, Turks, Kurds and Khemshins. A significant part of the population in the border regions had family relations in Turkey, had been occupied in smuggling, displayed a desire to emigrate and served Turkish intelligence organs as a source for recruiting spies and planting bandit groups.
Telegram to Stalin, Molotov, and Malenkov from Beria on 28 November 1944 reproduced in N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992), doc. 5, pp. 155-156.

Question

In November 1944 the Soviet government accused nearly 9,000 Kurds from Georgia including women, children, old men, Red Army soldiers, and Communist Party members of essentially being Turkish intelligence agents and deported them to confined internal exile and forced labor in Central Asia for 12 years. Despite this event a surprisingly large number of Kurdish intellectuals remain communists sympathetic to the Soviet experiment even today. Anybody have any explanation for this seeming incongruence?


Update

On Thursday I finished classes for the semester. Now I just have to give and grade finals. In the last two weeks I also sent out three journal articles for consideration. This summer I hope I can be more productive than last year. Moving to Kurdistan and getting extensive dental work done used up all my time and energy last summer. This year I need to get new glasses, but it should overall be easier.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Amna Suraka

Today I went to the Amna Suraka prison and museum. The political prison designed by the East Germans specialized in the torture of Kurds accused of having contact with the Peshmerga during the later years of the Baathist dictatorship under Saddam Hussein. The tour takes you through the various prison cells and torture rooms. The blood has been washed off the walls and floors. But, they have preserved the charcoal writings by prisoners on the cell walls. There are also halls devoted to the victims of the Anfal genocide in 1988 and the mass exodus to the Turkish border in 1991. May all the victims rest in peace.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Busy

Today I got up at 5:00 am. But, fortunately I went to bed at 9:00 pm so I got enough sleep. I took the 7:00 am bus to work and ate a breakfast of lentil soup, ayran, and scrambled eggs. Then I helped another faculty member proctor a test. That was immediately followed by proctoring my own test with the help of two upper class men. Then I had a lecture on the failure of socialism in Africa. Now I am on lunch break. After lunch I have to proctor another two tests. Then I can go home.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Still Here

At this point I am sure this blog has no readers other than my parents left. But, I feel compelled to keep the thing alive just out of sheer stubborness.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Recent Reading

I thought Stalin's construction of socialism causing the premature and excess death of over 15 million people was near the top of inhumanity by Marxist regimes. But, I just finished reading Frank Dikotter's Mao's Great Famine (2010) and he puts a credible estimate of 45 million premature excess deaths in China due to the GLF alone from 1958-1962. A lot of the book goes into detailed descriptions of how these people died and how others managed to survive. Overall a very depressing book.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Day Off

Today I took a taxi to the bank and then strolled to the bazaar. At the bazaar I had a falafel roll and ayran for lunch. Then I walked to a money exchange, a tea vendor, and the book store that carries English language titles. After buying a book I went to two more tea vendors before taking a cab back home.

73 Years since the Deportation of the Balkars

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Balkars by the NKVD to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. I don't have a lot new to add so here are some posts from previous years.

71st anniversary

70th anniversary

65th anniversary

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Happy International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day. I have the day off for other reasons. But, after living in Kyrgyzstan I am always shocked at how little attention this holiday gets outside of the former Soviet bloc. In Africa and the Middle East it doesn't seem to register any more than in the US.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Nepali Food

Today I took a cab to the bazaar to get something to eat from one of the Nepali stands outside the park that set up on Fridays. I had two large vegetable samosas smothered in spicy red sauce. It cost me a total of 1000 IQD.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Chinese Food

Yesterday I ate at the new Chinese place everybody here is raving about. It was pretty good. I had spring rolls, fried rice, pepper beef, kung pao chicken, and some sort of cabbage dish. I had the left overs for breakfast this morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming

I am quite sure that most of my regular readers (ie my parents) prefer my posts about life and work in Sulaimani to those linking to my work on the Soviet deportation of the Chechens and Ingush or the CIA's role in removing Nkrumah from power in Ghana. So I am returning to my posts on the mundane experience of my personal life. This week went well. I covered the Atlantic slave trade in Civ 102 and incorporated my personal visits to the slave castles of Elmina and Cape Coast in Ghana into my lectures. I try and do this as much as possible because I have found that it helps the students relate to the topic much more if they are able to link my first hand accounts with the text. It might be my best pedagogical trick.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fifty One Years Since the Overthrow of Nkrumah

On 24 February 1966 the Ghanaian army and police overthrew the Convention People's Party government of Kwame Nkrumah. This coup was one of a series of military seizures of power in Africa and other Non-Aligned states such as Indonesia in 1965 to take place in the 1960s. My book chapter, "Nkrumah, the Cold War, the 'Third World', and the US Role in the 24 February 1966 Coup" from Bea Lundt and Christoph Marx, eds., Kwame Nkrumah: A Controversial African Visionary (Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016) provides a summary based upon declassified US State Department and CIA documents. A draft manuscript of the chapter can be found at academia.edu here. Feel free to leave any comments about the chapter or the coup in general below this post.

73 Years Since the Deportation of the Chechens and Ingush

Yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush from their Caucasian homeland to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. I have put up a draft on academia.edu of an article I wrote for the Forum of EthnoGeoPolitics a couple years ago dealing with the subject. The title of the article is "Scourging the Caucasus: The Soviet Deportation of the Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, and Balkars in 1943-1944." The final version of the article appears in the Forum of EthnoGeoPolitics, vol. 3, no. 1, Spring 2015, pp. 51-72. A slightly different draft of the article by itself  without the surrounding articles can be found at the following  link. Feel free to leave any comments regarding the article here

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fire

Last night at a little before ten the electricity cut out. Then I heard a very loud knocking on my door. It turned out that a flat on the floor above me was on fire and I needed to evacuate the building. So I spent the better part of an hour in the cold rain with no coat until they cleared the lower floors and I could wait in the dean's living room. I am told the building caught on fire last year as well.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The week so far

Yesterday I taught four classes. Today I had no classes. Instead I had to go to the bank to take care of something. Getting there involved some traffic. But, getting from the bank to the university was like moving through molasses the traffic was so bad. I think the rain may have contributed to the traffic.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Weekend

Today I actually got a couple of concrete accomplishments done. I called my mother. I did laundry. Finally, I ventured out to Majidi Mall to purchase the local equivalent of Draino to fix a slow sink in the bathroom. Before purchasing the corrosive I had a burger and then a glass of tea. Of course it is impossible to avoid students if you don't leave the city. So sure enough one stopped me in front of the tea stand and asked me some questions. My answer to all of them was to read the syllabus. At home I carefully followed the instructions on the corrosive and successfully unclogged the sink without damaging anything.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Double Feature

Yesterday I took the 8:00 am bus to work. I then ate breakfast and taught two classes. For lunch I had rice and shish tavuk, Then I taught another two classes followed by a departmental meeting. I took a taxi back home stuffed with four of us from the department. Then I went over to B to B and had a Hot and Spicy Pizza, lemon and mint drink, and finally apple narghile while reading James Lee Burke's Light of the World.

This morning I had a video chat with my wife and daughter. Then I took a taxi to work. There was an 11:30 am faculty meeting being held by the new dean of faculty. After the meeting I had Greek mousakka for lunch and then retreated to my office to read 92 pages for tomorrow's classes. I took the 4:30 bus home and ended up going to City Centre to get Texas Chicken (Church's) for dinner.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Monday

I don't have any classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Today I took the noon bus into work, dropped off my coat in my office, and then ate lunch. Yes, lunch consisted of rice, chicken, cabbage, and soup again. The president didn't join me today, but he did say hello as I was finishing up eating. I then went back to my office and sent an email, read some for tomorrow's classes, and then took the 5:30 pm bus home.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

First Day of Classes in 2017

This morning the power cut out while I was in the shower leaving me in total darkness. It still had not returned when I got on the 7:30 am bus to go to work. As usual I had lentil soup, bread, and eggs for breakfast. I then went to my office and checked my email. After that I taught my first two classes of the day. I then ate lunch. Again I had rice, chicken, beans, and cabbage. After lunch I returned to my office to hold my daily office hour. No students showed up. I spent the hour browsing Google Scholar looking for something interesting that might help me in future writing projects. I did not find anything useful. I then went and taught my remaining two classes. After class I wandered around for an hour talking to students and had an order of fries before taking the 5:30 pm bus home.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Saturday

This morning the entire building had no power. That meant no electricity and no running water. Finally, after two there was about 20 minutes of electrical generation, enough to get sufficient water to use the toilet and take a shower. Sustained electric supply only returned after 3:30.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday

The weekend here is Friday and Saturday so I didn't have work today. In fact the campus is closed on Fridays. So today I went to Majidi Mall and had a burger at Bees. They have the best burger I have found in Suli and at 3500 IQD, one of the cheapest. They toast the bun, have grilled onions, and thousand island sauce and tomatoes on them. Then I walked around the mall for a while. Eventually, I went to the supermarket in the basement and purchased some chocolate. Then I walked some more before having a big glass of tea and taking a cab home.

Yesterday

Yesterday I took the 9 am bus to work. Then I had a typical Kurdish breakfast of lentil soup and bread. Then I drank some strong Kurdish tea and checked at the printing office if my syllabi for Sunday were ready. They were not. But, I was diplomatic and asked, "Is it possible that the syllabi I ordered printed yesterday for my Sunday morning class will be ready this afternoon?" They said, yes and in point of fact they were. So that worked out very well. Then I checked my email and did some reading until lunch time. For lunch I had Kurdish rice, cabbage salad, and Kurdish meatballs in gravy. Again, I was joined by the university president. He is quite a likeable guy. After lunch we had a departmental meeting and then I showed my office mate the new library on Kurdish history I started over break. I took the 3:30 pm bus home, changed my shoes, and took a cab to Majidi Mall to change money. After I had exchanged dollars for Iraqi Dinar I ran into the Dean of Faculty. He invited me to join him and his family at Pizza Hut for dinner. After dinner I took a short nap and then went to B to B to watch Ghana lose to Cameroon 2 to 0.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Another short work day

Today I took the noon bus into work. Then I had lunch at the cafeteria and the president of the university joined me. This is the third time this has happened here and it is a radical difference from the last two universities where I worked before. There the idea of the head of the university having a casual lunch with me was inconceivable. As always it was a pleasure to talk to the current president of AUIS. After I finished my shish tavuk and borek I went to my office and finished editing syllabi. I then went upstairs to get a mug of tea and talked to a couple of colleagues before finally taking the 2:30 pm bus home.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Today

I am going to revive the idea of this blog as a personal journal even though that interests very few people, simply because those are the posts that I enjoy rereading. An audience of one is of course infinitely greater than an audience of zero. My life is pretty boring, however, it is nice to be able to see what I have been doing in past years. So starting today I am going to try and again redirect this blog in the direction of being an electronic diary.

Today after I woke up I had a brief video chat with my wife and daughter in Kyrgyzstan. Then I took a taxi to work. There I had a typical Kurdish lunch of rice, beans (black eyed peas) in tomato sauce, and chicken. Anwar, who is both the head cook and frequently the server has taken to only speaking to me in Kurdish. I think Steve told him to do this last semester. In fact I think Steve told a lot of people this. At any rate the meal was adequate, but nothing unusual.

After lunch I wandered over to the academic building. I stopped to talk to Alan for a bit before heading up to my office. In my office I finished most of the editing on my syllabi for this semester which starts on Sunday. I will put the final touches on them and get them printed tomorrow. I then took the bus back home.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recent Doings

The last couple of days I have been going into work on the 9:00 am bus and coming back on the 4:30 pm one. I haven't been super productive. But, I have gotten some revision done on my World History since 1945 syllabus. I have also made some progress on my article on Kurds in the USSR. Although it is still coming along slowly. But, 200 to 500 words a day is a lot faster than zero words a day. I also established a small library on Kurdish history in my office with a sign and everything. Granted it only has six books in it now. I aim to more than double that after I finish reading the other Kurdish history books I have at my flat.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Trying to Follow Kurdish Political History

The political history of Kurdistan starts to get complicated in 1975 after the PUK splits from the KDP. It starts to get really complicated after the 1991 Gulf War. From 1992 on trying to follow all the factions in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria and their various international alliances gets progressively more difficult. The entire decade of the 1990s was one of shifting relations between the KDP, PUK, IMK, PKK, KDPI, Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, Damascus, Paris, and Washington DC.

Blogging in 2017

Based on the number of comments this blog gets and some other information this blog has exactly three human readers of which two are my parents. I suspect this is because the topics I blog about are of no interest to anybody else other than us four. I know all writing aims at niche markets, but three people is the type of audience private letters rather than public blogs garner. There is no helping it, however. It has been this way for years and nothing can be done to change it.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Partial English Language Bibliography on Kurds

Aziz, Mahir A., The Kurds of Iraq: Nationalism and Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015).

Bengio, Ofra, The Kurds of Iraq: Building  a State Within a State (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012).

Bulloch, John and Morris, Harvey, No Friends But the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Edmonds, C.J., Kurds, Turks and Arabs: Politics, Travel and Research in North-Eastern Iraq: 1919-1925 (London: Oxford University Press, 1957).

Jabar, Felah A. and Dawod, Hosham, eds., The Kurds: Nationalism and Politics (London: SAQI, 2006).

Jwaideh, Wadie, The Kurdish Ntional Movement: Its Origins and Development (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006).

McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, Third Revised Edition, (London, I.B. Tauris, 2007).

Natali, Denise, The Kurds and the State: Evolving Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005).

Phillips, David L., The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East (London: Transaction Publishers, 2015).

Randal, Jonathan C., After such Knowledge. What Forgiveness?: My Enounters with Kurdistan (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Brief Note on Kurds in Comparative Context in the Last Century

The Kurds are unusual among people struggling for self determination during the late 20th Century in a couple of aspects. First, they ended up divided among five different states instead of concentrated in only one. Second, after 1946 they ceased to be under the rule of any of the European colonial powers. Instead they came under the rule of independent states engaging in nationalizing rather than imperial projects of state building. Projects that had the tacit support of an international community that strongly opposed changing the political boundaries of existing post-colonial states, especially by armed force. Thus the Kurds had two distinct disadvantages that national liberation movements in places like Algeria, Kenya, and Angola did not.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Easing Back Into Work

Today I returned to the office for the first time since before Christmas. I did not get a huge amount of work done. But, I did get some done. First, I downloaded a bunch of files I had on my laptop at home on to a pen drive and then uploaded them onto my work laptop. Then I wrote up a peer review for a journal article that I had been putting off. I then actually wrote 500 words on the article dealing with Kurds in the USSR I have been making slow progress on since August. It is currently up to 3000 words. Now that I don't have classes for a while I hope to be able to finish it. Finally, I tried out my new "I Love Slemani" tea mug I bought especially for work. At home I use one that has a Kurdish flag on it and says "I Love Kurdistan."

Kurds in the Red Army and Partisans during WWII

I am not sure if it is pure coincidence or some expression of a deeply rooted cultural trait. But, Kurds in the USSR during World War II seemed to have the same two military specializations that they later demonstrated in Iraq so well. The first is marksmanship. A lot of Kurds in the Red Army served as snipers. The second is the ability to organize guerrilla organizations. Kurds organized and led a number of partisan detachments that fought against the Nazis during World War II not only in the USSR but, even one outside Paris.