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.