Friday, September 15, 2017

First Thoughts on the Bruce Gilley Controversy

I will probably write something more substantial on my blog about Bruce Gilley's recent article, "The Case for Colonialism" published in Third World Quarterly. But, just a few preliminary thoughts. First, it appears that the editors published it despite the fact that three peer review reports recommended against publication. Second, while a case could be made for reevaluating colonialism he doesn't make it. His examples of places he claims were better under European rule are just about the worst ones possible. He uses Guinea-Bissau which he claims was worse after independence than under the Portuguese and blames it on Amilcar Cabral the leader of the independence movement. Except, Cabral was murdered before Guinea-Bissau achieved independence. So it is hard to see how any failures of the independent state are his fault. Another example he uses is Belgian Congo. Now, most of Congo's time as a modern independent state was under the horrible misrule of Mobutu installed in 1965 with the help of the former colonial rulers and US. But, as bad as he was it is hard to consider it worse than Belgian rule over the Congo where excess premature deaths due to forced labor and other forms of colonial oppression ran into the millions. Another example he uses is Kenya where he explicitly praised the British crushing of the Mau Mau (not Mau as he states in the article) uprising in the 1950s. The suppression of this revolt involved the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of not just rebels but Kikuyu civilians in concentration camps. Another million plus were confined to enclosed villages. Arbitrary killings and torture of detainees was routine and qualitatively didn't differ from some of the worst abuses in Nazi and Stalinist camps. Again, independent Kenya hasn't had a perfect human rights record. But, it never put hundreds of thousands of people in concentration camps like the British did not long after they had helped hang former German officials for the exact same crimes against Europeans following the defeat of the Nazis. Finally, this isn't a left vs. right debate. It is hard to classify the Mau Mau for instance as any type of leftist movement. Rather, any evaluation of colonialism including the brutal Soviet version in places like Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia needs to come to terms with the actual history of colonial rule.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Update for the week

I have been busy with teaching four classes and using my two free days to take care of administrative work and get some real writing done. Last night there was a faculty get together at Pine House for appetizers. The night before that there was a presentation on US, Turkish, and Iraqi policy towards the upcoming independence referendum here in Kurdistan. The upshot was that nobody other than the Kurds and I guess now the Israelis supports Kurdish independence. I don't think this should matter really. If the Kurds really want an independent state then they should just declare it and start building it regardless of what the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran or anybody else says.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Day of Classes Fall 2017

Today I had my first day of classes. In the morning I have two 100 level classes and in the afternoon I have two 300 level classes. So I have four hours of lecturing in total between 8 am and 3:15 pm on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Interestingly enough a number of students have me for both my back to back 300 level classes. I am not sure as an undergrad that I would have wanted two classes by the same professor in the same semester yet alone having them one right after the other.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Mountain

Yesterday after I got back from the bazaar I got a call from a friend to come meet him at a cafe. Once there he asked me if I wanted to go up to see the mountain.  I said, yes. So another guy came and picked us up and drove us to the top of the mountains surrounding the city. There is an open air eatery there where they grill fresh food for you. I had the fish. From the mountain top you can see the whole city of Sulaimani lit up.

Friday, September 08, 2017

This morning's walk

This morning I walked to the bazaar. It took me about 80 minutes. By the time I got to City Star I was pretty thirsty and purchased two liters of water, half of which I drank immediately. At the park in front of the gate to the bazaar I had some tea, some spicy Nepalese noodles, and read about the Kurdish armed struggle against the Baath regime during the 1970s and 1980s. Then I walked to the center of the bazaar and had some more tea. Finally, I walked back to the gate and took a cab home.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Today

Today I got up early and took the first bus to work at 7 am. Then I wrote 680 words for an article due in mid-November. From 9am to noon  I sat through my first meeting of the semester. I thought I was going to have two meetings today. But, the second one got canceled to be rescheduled later. So I left campus and walked to the mall at about 3pm to try the new fried fish sandwich at B to B. It was really good, especially after I squeezed a whole lemon over the fish.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Getting back in the groove

Yesterday, I went back to the office and started working again. Today, I finished everything I need to get done before Saturday, most notably the creation and revision of this semester's syllabi. So the work front is proceeding forward.

After I decided to stop working yesterday afternoon and started walking home I got a call from a friend to meet him at a cafe near the bazaar. The highlight of the meeting was dinner at an eatery specializing in grilled chicken. The chicken was very moist, tender, and flavorful. It was served with delicious crimson tomatoes.

Monday, September 04, 2017

B to B

Today I walked down to Majidi Mall to the new B to B where some of my friends now work. They used to work at the old B to B at City Center. The new B to B is a lot nicer looking inside than the old one.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Back in Suli

This morning I arrived back in Suli safely. It isn't as hot as I expected it to be. The electricity and wifi are working in my flat. I also managed to for I think the first time ever successfully change the chip in my phone.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Very Pleasant Surprise

It is impossible to tell short of people telling me in the comments or otherwise how many people ever read anything I write here. The site counter does not differentiate between real people and bots. But, I think a few real people actually did read my post to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the deportation of the Volga Germans. That along with the amount of coverage the anniversary got in German and especially Russian language media greatly surprised me. It wasn't that long ago that the event got almost no coverage at all. In the 1990s people like Deborah Lipstadt claimed that to even bring up the issue of ethnic German civilians victimized by Allied powers such as the USSR during World War II was Holocaust denial. Now people like Lipstadt have much less power to silence dissidents.

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Publication coming out in October

I have a journal article with the title "Kurds in the USSR, 1917-1956" scheduled for publication in the October 2017 issue of Kurdish Studies. As the title notes the article is on the history of the Kurdish population in the Soviet Union from the time of the Bolshevik Revolution until the start of Khrushchev's de-Stalinization campaign.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

76 Years Since the Deportation of the Volga Germans


Tomorrow marks the 76th anniversary of the Supreme Soviet decree to deport the ethnic Germans living in the Volga German ASSR, Saratov Oblast, and Stalingrad Oblast to Siberia and Kazakhstan as special settlers. They were dispersed across the vast and freezing expanses of Soviet Asia by a regime whose core identity was “Anti-Fascism.” This regime considered everybody even remotely associated or connected to anything German as a Fascist deserving of the most brutal punishments imaginable without even the pretense of legal process. I have already written the details of the deportation, special settlement regime, and mobilization into the labor army here and at other places. So I want to continue in the vein of considering why so many people consider this crime so unworthy of note whereas similar crimes committed against other people are publicly commemorated in the US on an almost daily basis.

The idea that only certain people are “worthy victims” by virtue of being of the correct ancestry and others such as Germans in the 1940s deserved no human or civil rights has been widespread for around three quarters of a century now. Part of this is that the idea of universal human rights is a political facade with no real content. Instead it is largely an intellectual cover for supporting certain unrelated real politic or ideological positions and often reflects considerable ethno-racial bias. Another part is that the perpetrators of this particular and many other crimes still retains a very strong international ideological credibility among intellectuals due to its “Anti-Fascist” identity. In particular the rhetorical commitment of the Soviet government to “anti-racism” has shielded it from charges of racial discrimination and repression by Western scholars. The only notable exceptions to this defense of the USSR from the claim that it engaged in racial discrimination has been in the cases where such discrimination was against Jews. But, the much greater repression on an ethno-racial basis of ethnic Germans by the Soviet government has been largely ignored or in some cases militantly denied by US based scholars. Volga German children deported in 1941 to die in Siberia are still not considered “worthy victims” by most US intellectuals because they shared distant ethnic ties with the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Korean food in Bishkek

Yesterday, I tried a new Korean place called Seoul Ramen off of Kievskaya. I had the ramen, kimchi, kimbab, a half liter of coke, and a half liter of bottled water for 225 som (about $3.50). The ramen was nice and spicy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Walk through Bishkek

I have decided to once again to try and use this blog as a personal journal. Especially, since I am planning on seriously reducing the time I waste on Face Book. Today, I went for a long walk. I noticed that they had renamed at least part of Manas which used to be Prospekt Mira after Chingiz Aitmatov. They are also building yet another mall on the street. This one is being called Asia Mall. It isn't completed yet. I also went to the other new mall, GUM over on Chui. It is quite nice and modern. But, the only store there that interests me is the book store and even that not very much. The history selection is very small and consists almost entirely of recent popular books from Russia. I am just not a 21st century man geared to constant consumption of new smart phones. I have a dumb Nokia from 2013. Looking at how other people are dependent upon their smart phones I have no intention of ever getting one. I think Mark Fisher was correct in his evaluation of the damage done to society by this particular piece of technology.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Why I Post so Little Here These Days

This blog has been slowly dying for a while. It long ago ceased to get any readers and comments stopped eons before that. But, now I am truly running out of new things to say in the short space of a blog post. I am also coming to the point where I am just going to have to accept that nobody is ever going to agree with me on anything and there isn't anything I can do about it. I never thought I would live to see Stalinism rehabilitated. But, that isn't as surprising as some of the other past horrors such as Dutch colonial atrocities in Indonesia or the Danish slave trade that are now routinely and militantly denied or defended by huge numbers of "progressives." But, there is no convincing these people that their idols whether it is the USSR, Denmark, the Netherlands, or Israel has ever done anything wrong. Unfortunately, these people appear to make up the vast majority of the population posting on the Internet.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Short Summary on Racism in the USSR under Stalin

It is impossible to get into the heads of dead dictators and political police chiefs and frankly trying to do so is rather pointless. Intentions and motivations are in the big picture of things rather minor considerations compared to actual actions and their consequences. There is no doubt that the internal Soviet national deportations and imposition of the special settlement regime upon groups such as the Russian Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, and Crimean Tatars was institutionally racist. The Soviet government singled out these and other groups for differential, unequal, and inferior treatment as collectives based solely on their membership in immutable categories based upon ancestry. It is also obvious that trying to convince people with an ideologically vested interest in seeing the USSR as superior to the US on the issue of race of the above truth is impossible.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reflections on Korea

I was only in Seoul a week so my observations are rather casual. That plus I speak almost no Korean. I purchased a Russian-Korean phrasebook in Bishkek before going. But, it turns out a very large number of Koreans in Seoul, particularly young adults, speak pretty good English. At any rate I found Seoul to be a rather happening place. There is lots of commerce, lots of coffee shops, lots of noodle joints, and overall the place is quite clean and orderly. The freedom and high standard of living I saw in South Korea contrasts sharply with the picture of North Korea I gathered from reading Barbara Demick's, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2009). Demick's collective biography of six North Korean refugees that made it to South Korea by way of China paints an Orwellian society mired in poverty and the type of absurdity that only socialist regimes seem capable of imposing upon their subjects. Reading her account really drives home the radical differences in day to day life that governments can impose upon a single national culture.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Quick Update (June trip to Seoul)

Okay, I have been very lax in updating this blog this summer. Mostly, I have been in Bishkek visiting my family. But, I did make a week long trip to Seoul, Republic of Korea, to deliver a paper on the 1937 deportation of the Koryo-Saram (Russian Koreans) at the Association for Asian Studies conference at Korea University. The food in Korea was absolutely fantastic. There is nothing quite like cold buckwheat noodle soup for breakfast served with kimchi, rice with red beans, and dried sea weed. Fortunately, there are lots of cheap and pretty good Korean cafes here in Bishkek. Unfortunately, there are none in Sulaimani.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Summer

I am currently in Kyrgyzstan visiting family again as I do every summer. I'll be back in Kurdistan in September. In the meantime I don't have a huge amount of stuff that has to be done like last summer. I have to finish a paper for a conference in Korea at the end of this month and that is about it. I got new glasses for the first time in over a decade last week and at $122 they were a great bargain. I can see my beautiful daughter much clearer now.

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.