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.