Potential Research Topics (2)

Advice: Let us not be afraid of languages. The world is a highly multilingual place, with books and periodicals published regularly in over 800 languages, with Wikipedias available in about 300 languages. It is the very reality of globalization. There is no time or chance to master more than 10-20 languages for reading purposes. Life is too short. However, Google Translate offers translation services for 103 languages now (2017) and counting. Copy-paste any text you want to consult in one of these languages, and voilà, you can read it without even knowing the target language. For better or worse, as a rule of thumb, the best quality of translation is available between English and the other languages. And when a given text is scanned, text recognition software comes handy to convert such a text into a form that would be downloadable in Google Translate.

NB: About a third of the topics can be researched on the basis of English-language materials; look for the word ‘None’ in the Requirements line.

Book Collection on Modern Silesia

Silesia is a historical region, which is nowadays located in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. In 2013 I passed my collection of about 500 books on modern Silesia to the St Andrews University library. This collection is still being cataloged, but a librarian can show it to interested students and all the books they may need for their own research projects can be promptly cataloged. Most of the publications are in German and Polish, some in Czech and English. Between 1993 and 2013 I used this collection to research and write my own books and articles on Silesia, including the monograph, Silesia and Central European Nationalisms: The Emergence of National and Ethnic Groups in Prussian Silesia and Austrian Silesia, 1848-1918 (2006 Purdue University press). This book was an inspiration for many younger western scholars to study this region and its inhabitants in depth. Their reflections and findings, which they presented in their own monographs, are summarized in the edited volume Creating Nationality in Central Europe, 1880-1950: Modernity, Violence and (Be) Longing in Upper Silesia (2016 Routledge).

Political Imperialism and the Invisibility of Indigenous Nations: How Many States in the United States: 50 or 376?

Research question & Background: Does the generalized lack of knowledge among US citizens on the very existence of the 376 autonomous polities (‘reservations’) inhabited by the recognized indigenous American nations amount to an ideologically motivated effort to write these nations out of the history of the United States?

Requirements: None.

 

Political Imperialism and the Invisibility of Indigenous Nations: How Many Provinces and Territories in the United States: 13 or over 3,100?

Research question & Background: Does the generalized lack of knowledge, among Canadian citizens, on the very existence of the over 3,100 autonomous polities (‘reserves’) inhabited by the recognized indigenous American nations amount to an ideologically motivated effort to write these nations out of the history of Canada?

Requirements: None.

 

Linguistic Imperialism and the Invisibility of Indigenous Languages: Is Only One American Language an Official Language in North America?

Research question & Background: Only at the turn of the 21st century was the indigenous North American language of Inuit made co-official in Canada’s sparsely populated Territory of Nunavut. Is it a sign of progress in the recognition of the rights of indigenous Americans or of continuing linguistic imperialism, given that only 30,000 people of the continent’s half a billion inhabitants enjoy the right to employ an indigenous North American language in official use.

Requirements: None.

 

United States and Jus Soli: Rich Russian Mothers

Research question: Does the recent tradition of rich Russians to send their wives and daughters to give birth in the United States for the sake of securing US citizenship for the newborns prove that Moscow’s present-day anti-Americanism is more rhetorical than ideological?

Background: As a matter of course in Putin’s Russia, wives and daughters of oligarchs and richer Russians are sent to the United States to give birth there, so their children may enjoy US citizenship. Oligarchs and rich Russians pay lip service to Putin’s authoritarian regime for the sake of maintaining access to lucrative deals, but make sure to transfer their wealth to the west, because they are unable to enjoy it as they would want in authoritarian Russia. The Kremlin’s neoimperial policy is steeped in anti-Americanism, which in light of the above seems to be less of an ideology, but rather a rhetoric for legitimizing Putin’s regime and its military forays abroad that boost Putin’s ratings at home. It appears that in reality the Russian elite is pro-American when it comes to their own life choices and preferences.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Russian.

 

Re-settling the Antemurale: The Transfer of Know-How from the Habsburgs to the Russian Empire

Research question: Did the Romanovs borrow from the Habsburgs the technologies and policies of resettling depopulated territories won from the Ottomans?

Background: The Habsburgs’ pushback against the Ottomans commenced in the late 17th century. A century later the Russians began the conquest of the Ottomans’ northern Black Sea littoral. St Petersburg established the territories of New Serbia and Slavo-Serbia to attract Orthodox Christian settlers from the Ottoman Balkans in order to repopulate the devastated area. Earlier for a similar purpose the Habsburgs had founded the Banat of Temeswar to attract Christian settlers from elsewhere in the Habsburg lands.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of Russian, German, Ukrainian and Serbian may be helpful.

 

Osmanlıca (Ottoman Turkish) as an Official Language in the Balkan Nation-States

Research question: Was the official use of Osmanlıca in the Balkan nation-states so thoroughly forgotten and written out of historiography, because ideologically it does not fit the Balkan national master narratives steeped in the myth of a centuries-long struggle against the ‘Turkish yoke’?

Background: All the Christian Balkan nation-states (Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia) first gained autonomy prior to independence. In the intervening period much of administration was conducted in Osmanlıca, for instance, in the case of Bulgaria until 1908. But historians of modern Bulgaria hardly ever have any command of this language, and in the national polities’ historiographies the fact of the official use of Osmanlıca is never mentioned.

Requirements: Osmanlıca / Turkish, a reading knowledge of other Balkan languages may be helpful.

 

Ada Kaleh: Between Modernization and Nationalism

Research question: What did necessitate the submergence of Ada Kaleh: modernization or nationalism?

Background: The Danube island of Ada Kaleh, after 1878 located between Serbia and Bulgaria, remained a de jure exclave of the Ottoman Empire until 1923. In 1964 Romania and Yugoslavia, in a joint venture, began building an Iron Gate Hydroelectric Power Station. In 1970 the construction led to the submergence of Ada Kaleh. Ostensibly, it was an effect of progress and modernization, but on the other hand, the last visible area of unmistakably Ottoman heritage was erased, which served well the anti-Ottoman rhetoric of Romanian and Yugoslav (Serbian) national communism.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of French and German could be useful, while a reading knowledge of Romanian, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish might be of help.

 

Bulgaria and the Non-Recognition of the Macedonian Nation and Language

Research question: Does the Bulgarian non-recognition of the Macedonian nation and language contribute to continuing political instability in the Balkans?

Background: When in the wake of the breakup of Yugoslavia Macedonia declared its independence, Bulgaria was the first country to recognize this new nation-state. But this recognition came with strings attached. Sofia vocally emphasizes that Bulgaria does not recognize the Macedonian nation and language, considering the former to be an inalienable part of the Bulgarian nation, and the latter another written standard of the Bulgarian language. For many it is a clear sign that Sofia’s neoimperial policy to recreate a ‘Greater Bulgaria,’ as it once was briefly in 1877 and during World War II when Macedonia was annexed by Bulgaria.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Bulgarian and Macedonian (for all practical reasons it is the same language)

 

Taraclia: Between Moldova and Bulgarian Neoimperialism

Research question: Does Sofia’s pressure on Moldova to grant autonomous status to Taraclia District contribute to continuing political instability in the Balkans?

Background: After Russia seized Bessarabia (today’s Moldova) from the Ottoman Empire in 1812, St Petersburg sought to repopulate this devastated land with Orthodox Christians from the Balkans. There were Bulgarians among the settlers, nowadays living compactly in Moldova’s southern District of Taraclia. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union – which led to the founding of independent Moldova – Sofia sought to bolster Bulgarian cultural and economic presence in Taraclia. The current demand for Bulgarian autonomy in Taraclia plays into the hands of the Russian policy either to include the country firmly in Russia’s Eurasian Union or to destabilize it so that it would become ineligible for EU membership.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Bulgarian and Romanian/Moldovan (it is the same language referred to by two different names)

 

Greece and the Non-Recognition of the Name of the Republic of Macedonia

Research question: Does Athens’s pressure on Skopje to abandon the country’s name of ‘Macedonia’ as a precondition of NATO and EU membership mean that Greece contributes to ongoing political stability in the Balkans?

Background: Macedonia was a Yugoslav republic whose name was not questioned at the international level. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Macedonia gained independence. Immediately Athens questioned the name of this country and recognized it under their own Greek name as ‘Republic of Skopje.’ The international community gave in to Greek pressure, meaning that in international relations Macedonia is officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). However, Greece’s NATO ‘frenemy’ of Turkey recognizes Macedonia under its preferred name. Athens believes that it literally owns the copyright of the historic name of Macedonia.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of Macedonian, Greek, French, German, or Russian would be helpful.

 

Greece’s Denial of Identity

Research question: Does Greece’s denial of religious and linguistic identity other than Orthodox and Greek breach the level of human rights as observed in the EU?

Background: At the height of the Cold War Greece was accepted as a member of the EC (EU) in 1981 for political reason, without fulfilling numerous democratic and economic criteria. Across numerous areas of Greece Albanian-, Slavic-, and Vlach (Romance)-speaking Orthodox Christians and Muslims live. Athens claims them to be non-Greek-speaking Greeks, that the Albanian language of Greece (dubbed as ‘Aravanitika’) is different from Albania’s Albanian, and that the Bulgarian/Macedonian language of Greece (dubbed as ‘Slavic’ or ‘Pomakian’) is different from Bulgaria’s Bulgarian and Macedonia’s Macedonian. Until 2002 one’s religion was indicated in the personal ID, barring non-Orthodox persons from positions and elected offices across Greece with the exception of autonomous western Thrace, where professing Islam and the use of Turkish are permitted. When a person runs for an elected office she must declare her religion in the registration paperwork.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of Greek and other relevant languages would be of help.

 

Greece and the Cham Albanians

Research question: Was the 1944-45 expulsion of both Orthodox and Muslim Albanians from Greece’s western Epirus (Chameria) dictated by Athens’s desire to ethnoreligiously and ethnolinguistically homogenize the Greek nation?

Background: Ostensibly, the expulsion was caused by collaboration of the region’s some Albanians with the administration of wartime Italian / Greater Albania. Both Greece, Albania and the Cham Albanian diaspora in the west interpret these events differently. However, the fact is that unofficially the Greek police and administration do their best to bar any Cham Albanians and their descendants from entering the region. Half a century after this expulsion, in 1995, Athens declared all the Cham Albanians’ land and real estate as abandoned and wanted to repossess it. International criticism stopped this move and the deadlock continues, though one of the pillars of EU law is private ownership, meaning that the state cannot arbitrarily deprive an individual of one’s moveable and immovable property

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of Albanian and Greek would be of help.

 

Ober Ost: A Prison or Kindergarten of Nations?

Research question: Did the Existence of Ober Ost Contribute to the lasting Emergence of Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Jewish-Yiddish Nationalisms and nation-States?

Background: Between 1915 and 1918/19 Germany administered the occupied territories of the Russian northwestern provinces (today’s Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus), and lumped them in a semi-polity of Land Ober Ost. The use of Russian was banned, in its place German and Polish were employed for polity-wide administration, however, when it came to local administration and elementary education, for the first time in history, Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Yiddish were employed in this function. Without this modernizing and state-building-like experience it is impossible to the post-1918 rapid and successful emergence of independent Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania, or of the secular Yiddish-based Jewish nationalism.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of German; a reading knowledge of the region’s other languages would be of help.

 

Sazan: Between Geopolitics and Abandonment

Research question: Does the abandonment of the island of Sazan as a military base indicate an increase in political stability across the Adriatic region?

Background: The tiny island at the entrance of the Bay of Vlorë allowed for the control of the Stair of Otranto, that is, of the access to the Adriatic from the Mediterranean. For this reason this island changed hands between Greece and Italy during the Great War. In 1920 Rome was pressed to pass it to Albania. Italy repossessed Sazan during World War II. After 1945 communist Albania let the Soviet Union build a submarine base on this island, which was in use until 1961 when Albania withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and expelled the Soviet military personnel. This base remained largely abandoned and the island became uninhabited after the 1991 fall of communism in Albania. But following the 1997 civil war, the subsequent welcoming of a stabilizing Italian police force led to the founding of a small Italo-Albanian base on this island.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Italian, a reading knowledge of Albanian would be of help.

 

Vlorë: Between Imperialism, Nationalism and Geopolitics

Research question: Is the changing status and military role of Vlorë indicative of the politics in the modern eastern Mediterranean region?

Background: Between 1914 and 1920 Italy occupied the Albanian sea port of Vlorë and its vicinity, seeking a land-cum-island bridge to the Italian Islands of the Aegean on the way of building an Italian Mediterranean empire. After returning it to Albania, Rome seized all of Albania, including Vlorë, during World War II. Afterward Albania leased this port for the sole Soviet military base in the Mediterranean until the Albano-Soviet rift in 1961. The subsequent period of the self-imposed isolation of communist Albania lasted until the 1991 fall of the communist system in this country. Following the 1997 civil war, Turkey rebuilt this military base and the Turkish navy enjoys the right to use this base.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Italian; a reading knowledge of Albanian, Russian and Turkish would be of help.

 

China and the Rwandan Genocide

Research question: Was China complicit in the Rwandan Genocide by providing the future genocidaires with their weapon of choice, that is, machetes?

Background: In the run-up to the 1994 genocide in late 1993 and early 1994, Chinese companies supplied Rwanda with over 2 million machetes, ostensibly required as ‘agricultural utensils.’ However, there was no proof of any demand for such a staggering number of machetes and in light of international lawthe Chinese authorities were obliged to check whether these machetes might be used for another purpose than the declared one. The Chinese embassy in Kigali remained staffed the longest, until May 1994, that is, half way through this genocide. It makes one wonder why.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of French and Chinese would be of help.

 

La République de Korça (Koritsa): Between Imperialism and Nationalism

Research question: Was the French protectorate of the Albanian city of Korçë and its vicinity Paris’s attempt to extend its colonial empire to the Balkans or selfless help to Albania partitioned during the Great War?

Background: When in the course of World War I Austria-Hungary occupied northern and central Albania, on the side of the Allies Italy and France officially came to succor of the Albanians by extending military administration over the southern part of the country. France established a Republic of Korçë that ostensibly was to protect the area’s Albanians against the Central Powers and Greece.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of French; a reading knowledge of Albanian would be of help.

 

France and Esperanto

Research question: Was the French nationalist and imperialist ambition to promote French as the ‘world’s only logical and universal language’ the reason behind Paris’s 1923 veto of the proposal to make Esperanto one of the official languages of the League of Nations?

Background: At the turn of the 20th century Esperanto became popular worldwide as a language of neutral communication. This was even of more import after the Great War when central Europe was divided among nation-states defined in ethnolinguistic terms, meaning language = nation = state. Interwar Brazil and Bulgaria declared Esperanto as their preferred ‘foreign’ language taught at school. The 1923 initiative to make Esperanto one of the official languages of the League of Nation was vetoed by Paris. At that time the late 18th-century myth was still widespread among the French elite that French is the world’s only and most logical and universal language. They saw the rise of neutral Esperanto as contradictory of this myth, given the lasting interwar political and cultural enmity between France and Germany.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of French; a reading knowledge of Esperanto would be of help (if you can read French and English, you will not have problems to understand Esperanto).

 

A Forgotten Source of European Republicanism: Cossack Siches from the 16th to early 19th centuries

Research question: Were the self-governing Cossack siches (river island republics) a source of European republicanism?

Background: Cossacks were free militarized population in the vast depopulated borderlands between Catholic Poland-Lithuania, Orthodox Muscovy/Russia and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Although Cossacks professed Orthodox Christianity and spoke Slavic, they were of a variety of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious origins, as indicated by their ethnonym, Cossack, meaning ‘fugitives’ or ‘free man’ in Turkic. They evaded control of outside powers fighting with one another and used for their own sich self-government elements of negotiated and participatory governance as practiced in Poland-Lithuania and the Crimean Khanate. Nowadays these elements would be seen as republican or even democratic.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Ukrainian; a reading knowledge in German, Polish, Russian and Turkish would be of help.

 

Albania and the Austro-Hungarian Model of Ethno-territorial Autonomy

Research question: Was the Austro-Hungarian friendly occupation of northern and central Albania during the Great War the actual launch pad for lasting Albanian statehood?

Background: Albania was proclaimed in 1912, recognized by the Great power a year later, but the Great War saw the country divided among Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, France, Italy and Serbia. All the occupation powers wanted to partition the country or annex all of it, with the notable exception of Austria-Hungary. Vienna’s occupation administration with its seat at the city of Shkodër created a network of schools and regional administrative offices and para-state institutions. After the war, these doubled as the actual structures of Albanian statehood.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of German; a reading knowledge of Albanian would be of help.

 

Britain and the Bengal Genocide of 1943

Research question: Is Britain guilty of the 1943 Bengal Genocide, because instead of organizing effective famine relief London kept diverting food supplies for the war effort in Britain and the Middle East?

Background: Around 0.4 million United Kingdom citizens died in World War II, none of hunger. On the other hand, out of the estimated 3 million war casualties in British India, only 87,000 were directly related to the military conflict. The rest were casualties of the 1943 Bengal Famine.

Requirements: None; a reading knowledge of Bengali/Hindi could be of help.

 

Bengali-Language Book Publishing: Between Bangladesh and India

Research question: Does ethnoreligious nationalism prevent crossborder trade in Bengali-language books between Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal?

Background: Out of almost 300 million Bengali-speakers, two-thirds live in Bangladesh and one third in India’s West Bengal. In British India this country and the province used to be the Province of Bengal. In 1947 British India was split along the ethnoreligious national lines into Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan. In 1971, due to the ethnolinguistic national conflict between dominant Western Pakistan and dominated Eastern Pakistan, the latter gained (with India’s help) independence as the ethnolinguistic nation-state of Bangladesh. In Bangladesh Bengali is the national and official language, while one of India’s official regional languages, mainly in West Bengal. Despite Delhi’s official support for Dhaka, India’s ethnoreligious nationalism and Bangladesh’s ethnolinguistic one prevent any commerce in Bengali-language books between these two countries.

Requirements: None; but a knowledge of Bengali would be of much help.

 

Bangladesh: Between India’s Linguistic States and Pakistan’s Religious Nationalism

Research question: Was the founding of independent Bangladesh (Eastern Pakistan) in 1971 underpinned by the tectonic shift in the abandonment of Pakistan’s religious nationalism in favor of ethnolinguistic nationalism (as practiced within India’s linguistic states) as the valid ideology of statehood and nationhood building and legitimization?

Background: The 1947 partition of British India created the two ethnoreligious nation-states, namely, Pakistan for the exclusively Islamic Pakistani nation and India for the mainly Hindu Indian nation. As of 1956 India moderated the ethnoreligious character of its nationalism by federalization and the adoption of ethnolinguistic nationalisms within its states in order to marry diversity and unity. In Pakistan apart from Islam also the Urdu language was adopted as part of Pakistani nationalism. However, Urdu being the language of the administrative elite, it used to be spoken only by 5 per cent of Western Pakistan’s population and next to no one in Eastern. The subsequent imposition of Urdu on homogenously Bengali-speaking Eastern Pakistan triggered a violent opposition, war and genocide which led to the founding of Bangladesh for the Bengali-speaking Islamic nation of Bangladeshis.

Requirements: None; but a knowledge of Bengali and Urdu / Hindi would be of much help.

 

Languages and Cultural Imperialism

Research question: Is the fact that not a single indigenous language is the official language of any state in the Americas or Australia an indication that despite decolonization, western political imperialism of the long 19th century continues as to this day as cultural and economic imperialism

Background: The Americas and Australia were colonized by Europeans who imposed their European languages and customs on the indigenous inhabitants. The European rule was thrown away in several ways of decolonization, giving colonials the power to rule themselves. But political decolonization in the Americas and Australia was not followed by cultural or economic decolonization. European languages remain national, official, dominant or leading in all the states on these three continents. Local elites of European (western) origin control politics and economy in these states and look up to Europe for models in any sphere of life to emulate.

Requirements: None.

 

Banda 1621: A Dutch Colonial Genocide

Research question: The 1621 Dutch colonial seizure of the Banda Islands (today in Indonesia) left 13,000 dead in its wake, out of the 14,000-strong indigenous population of the Bandanese. Did this massacre constitute a genocide?

Background: In the early 17th century the Banda islands was the main source of nutmeg. The Dutch wanted to monopolize the lucrative trade in this spice. To this end, they invaded the Banda Islands.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Dutch (similar to English and German); a reading knowledge of Indonesian/Malaysian would be of help.

 

Apartheid: Education in the Ethnic (Native) Language

Research question: Was South Africa’s apartheid policy of providing compulsory education in a variety of ethnic (native) languages for ‘non-white’ ethnic groups discriminatory in its character, given that ‘non-white’ schools and other educational facilities were always substandard and underfinanced?

Background: The popular western normative belief is that children should be taught in their first (native, ethnic, home) language (also known as ‘mother tongue’) spoken by the community to which they were born. This belief was abducted for architects of apartheid the sake of justifying the policy of ‘separate development’ (apartheid), and barring non-whites from attending English-medium schools. Non-whites compelled to get education through the medium of their first language felt cheated from the opportunity of acquiring it in English, a worldwide medium of global communication.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of a southern African language could be of help.

 

Apartheid South Africa and National Self-Determination

Research question: Was the post-1918 principle of national self-determination employed for discriminating against the non-white (black) majority who were pressed into ‘their own’ ‘black’ (ethnic) nation-states (bantustans), whose territories combined accounted for less than a quarter of South Africa’s territory?

Background: After the Great War the Allies decided to reorganize the political shape of central Europe in line with the principle that groups speaking the same language should be recognized as nations, and each such a nation should be given its own nation-state. After the introduction of apartheid in 1948 in South Africa, the same policy was pursued of creating separate states for ethnolinguistically differentiated ‘black (native) nations.’ However, on the basis of dubious historical research, it was claimed that the original ‘national’ territories of such black nations accounted just for a fraction of South Africa’s territory. It was proposed that upon the arrival of European colonists, most of South Africa was uninhabited, hence, the land was rightfully taken in possession by white Afrikaners and Brits.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of a southern African language could be of help.

 

Central Europe in South Africa

Research question: Was the South African trend and policy of building an Afrikaner nation and ‘black’ (ethnic) nations as defined through language alone a case of the transfer of the idea of ethnolinguistic nationalism from central Europe to South Africa?

Background: During the second half of the 19th century, the Afrikaner nation coalesced in southern Africa around the Afrikaner language, seen as separate and distinctive from the colonial language of Dutch. Another factor was the British takeover of the Cape Colony and the imposition of new colonial policies not appreciated by Boers (the future Afrikaners). Finally, prior to the Boer Wars, the Afrikaners successfully established their own two nation-states, which was then destroyed by Britain. After 1948, the Afrikaner government of apartheid South Africa sought to establish ethnolinguistically defined nation-states for black ethnic groups in order to be ridden of the ‘black problem.’ After the fall of apartheid, some white Afrikaans extremists wanted to carve out a homogenously white and Afrikaans-speaking nation-state in the South African Province of Orange Free State. Architects of Afrikaans nationalism and apartheid were knowledgeable of Dutch, German and central European ethnolinguistic nationalisms.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of a southern African language could be of help.

 

India’s Linguistic States: From Austria-Hungary and the Soviet Union to Independent India

Research question: Was the 1956 adoption of the policy of linguistic states in India a case of idea transfer of similar models from Austria-Hungary and the interwar Soviet Union?

Background: In the Austrian half of Austria-Hungary crownlands (regions) were allowed the use of their own local languages for the sake of more efficient administration and popular education, and also for limiting the attraction of the proliferating ethnolinguistically defined national movements seeking independence. A similar policy of territorial ethnolinguistic autonomy was adopted in the interwar Soviet Union, alongside the state’s active involvement of creating written cultures for languages of these groups that traditionally were illiterate. The idea was to meet cultural and ethnolinguistic needs of the ethnic groups, so that in return they would not demand independence, and the multiethnic SU could continue as a polity, like Austria-Hungary before it. The 1947 independence faced the postcolonial governments with the dilemma of India’s huge ethnolinguistic diversity. The question was how to deal with it in order to prevent any further breakups of the country, after the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. The 1956 solutions of creating ‘linguistic states’ emulates both the Austro-Hungarian and Soviet model.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of German and Russian would be of help.

 

South Africa’s ‘Nationalities’ and the Soviet Union

Research question: Did apartheid South Africa copy the Soviet model of korenizatsiia (building native-language educational systems and ethnic homelands) for non-dominant (that is, ‘black’ in South Africa) populations ethnolinguistically defined, when establishing autonomous and independent ‘black’ nation-states (bantustans)?

Background: Both the Soviet Union and South Africa officially were at the very ends of the Cold war political spectrum. The countries did not maintain diplomatic relations and financed guerilla and opposition movements that sought to destroy the SU and South Africa, respectively. In 1948, the Afrikaner government of apartheid South Africa adopted the policy of ethnolinguistically defined nation-states for black ethnic groups in order to be ridden of the ‘black problem.’ The idea was that as in the case of the Soviet non-Russian ‘nationalities,’ South Africa’s ‘black’ nations would be left to their own devices in bantustans. Hence, the black movement would not have a legal place to develop outside these autonomous / independent black nation-states, while ‘white’ South Africa would not have to shoulder any budgetary outlays for the country’s ‘blacks.’ On the other hand, Pretoria would maintain effective control of each of these black national polities.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of Russian and Afrikaans could be of help.

 

The Peaceful Coexistence of Christians and Muslims in Modern Albania

Research question: Did the post-2001 rhetoric of war on terror not trigger any tension or conflict between Christians and Muslims in Albania, due to the continuing Ottoman tradition of religious tolerance, as enshrined in the millet system?

Background: The ethnolinguistically homogenous nation-state of Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912. The population of Albania is evenly split among Christians and Muslims. The current war on terror rhetoric did not put Christians and Muslims at loggerheads, which seems to be a norm from the Balkans to the Middle east to South Asia.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Albanian

 

The Peaceful Coexistence of Christians and Muslims in Modern Ethiopia

Research question: Did the post-2001 rhetoric of war on terror not trigger any tension or conflict between Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia, due to the continuing imperial tradition of religious tolerance, as developed in the course of the rapid territorial expansion of the Ethiopian Empire in the 19th century?

Background: Today’s highly multiethnic and polyglot Ethiopia was founded in the 19th century in the course of the southward and eastward expansion of the ideologically Christian Ethiopian Empire. As a result of the conquests, Ethiopia’s population consists of roughly the same numbers of Christians and Muslims. Hence, it was possible to maintain this vast empire only by ensuring peaceful coexistence between the religious communities. Political systems changed rapidly in Ethiopia during the 20th century, but this imperial traditions continues to be cherished and cultivated.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of Amharic could be of help, while a knowledge of any other Ethiopian languages would allow for field work.

 

The 1952 Expulsion of the Royal Albanian Elite from Revolutionary Egypt

Research question: Was the expulsion of Egypt’s Albanian elite upon the founding of the republic in 1952 caused by nationalism, which maintains that only people sharing the same ethnolinguistic origin (in this case, Arabic-speaking Egyptians) with the general population should have the right to rule and administer a country?

Background: In the wake of the Napoleonic occupation of the Ottoman province of Egypt, an enterprising warrior Muhammad Ali seized power there and established his own dynasty that ruled Egypt until the 1952 revolution. Muhammad Ali was an ethnic Albanian, like his soldiers. Together they liquidated the former Turkic-speaking Mameluke ruling class of Egypt. Like Mamelukes before, Ali’s new ruling elite of Albanian ethnic origin also adopted Egyptian Arabic as their language of everyday communication. But all remained aware of the Albanian (non-Egyptian) origin of this ruling class, who established many links with Albania when the country gained independence in 1912. In 1952 the nationally-minded revolutionary regime expelled 4,000 families (c 20,000 persons) of the ethnically Albanian ruling elite. Given that communists had seized power in Albania after World War II, most of the expellees went to the United States and Canada.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Arabic; a reading knowledge of Albanian and German could be of help.

 

Celebrating the Empire: From Capitalist Iran to Communist Bulgaria and Romania

Research question: Did the 1971 celebrations of the 2,500th year of the foundation of Imperial State of Iran serve as a model for the 1980 celebrations of the 2050th anniversary of the founding of Romania, alongside the 1981 celebrations of the 1300th anniversary of the founding of Bulgaria?

Background: The Pahlavi dynasty and government lavishly celebrated the 2,500th year of the foundation of Iran to lend more legitimacy to their regime via association with the ancient Persian Empire. Only ten years later, in a similar fashion, the communist dictators of Bulgaria and Romania used the same kind of state-sponsored celebrations of presumed ancient glories of their nations for propping up the legitimacy of their own regimes.

Requirements: None; but ideally a reading knowledge of Bulgarian, Persian and Romanian

 

The Russian Language: Between Empire and Democracy

Research question & Background: Russian is the sole ‘big’ language of wider communication (on a par with English or Arabic), which despite being used in official manner across numerous countries, is construed as coming in the single correct variety, as controlled by the Russian Academy of Sciences at Moscow. All the other ‘big’ language of wider communication include country-specific varieties (for instance, Australian English, Egyptian Arabic, Taiwanese Chinese, Austrian German, Quebec French, or Argentinian Spanish), whose existence is officially confirmed in the countries concerned and enshrined in word processors, when one can choose a given variety from the language menu. Is Moscow’s insistence on the unitary character of the Russian language caused by the recently adopted Russkii Mir ideology? This ideology composed from elements of neoimperialism and ethnolinguistic nationalism insists that all native speakers of Russian, who are former Soviet citizens and their descendants, constitute a ‘true’ Russian nation, which the Kremlin must protect by extending its political and military power wherever such broadly defined ‘Russians’ live in a compact fashion.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of Russian and other post-Soviet languages would be of help.

 

Massacring the Unwanted Elite in the Ottoman Empire: From Cairo to Manastir

Research question: Did the Ottoman government learn the ploy of securing a restive country by decapitating its elite from Muhammad Ali, a rogue Ottoman warlord of Albanian origin?

Background: In the wake of the Napoleonic Invasion in 1799, the Ottoman province of Egypt was in disarray. The successful commander Muhammad Ali and his Albanian-speaking troops were sent to Egypt to bring it under the Sultan’s control. But Muhammad seized Egypt for himself. In order to seal his control of the country, in 1811 the former Egyptian elite of Turkic-speaking Mamelukes was invited to a grand dinner party in Cairo’s citadel, and subsequently massacred. Three decades later, the Ottoman government faces with local unrest and outside attacks from the Austrian and Russian empires in the Balkans, decided to invite the Albanian beys to Manastir (today’s Bitola in Macedonia) for a dinner party of reconciliation. Subsequently they were massacred and effective Ottoman control was re-extended over the territories inhabited by Albanian-speakers.

Requirements: None; a reading knowledge of Albanian, Arabic or German may be of help.

 

Totalitarianism and Eliticide

Research question: Is eliticide one of the main instrument used by totalitarian regimes for subduing restive ethnic groups, regions and conquered countries?

Background: famously, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was swiftly followed by the massacring and dispersing the aristocratic elite (‘former people’) of the Russian Empire. Upon the occupation of Poland in 1939, Hitler’s Germany executed the leading professors and scholars at the Jagiellonian University and the University of Lwów, on the one hand, while on the other the Kremlin exterminated the entire Polish officer corps. Mainly in the 1930s, in order to curb the importance of the elites of a variety of Soviet nationalities (nations, ethnic groups), leading civil servants, writers and scholars of such nationalities were executed and exiled to the gulag concentration camps. In the Soviet bloc the former ‘bourgeois’ and anti-communist elites were exterminated, exiled or expelled, alongside the elites of any remaining ethnolinguistic minorities.

Requirements: None; but languages relevant for selected cases may be of help.

 

Buddhism and the Rohingiya Ethnic Cleansing / Genocide

Research question & Background: Does the decade-long disenfranchisement, repression, ethnic cleansing and genocide in independent Burma / Myanmar prove that neither Buddhism nor any other confession is somehow inherently a ‘religion of peace’? That essentially it always depends on people and decision-makers to which end they may use religion in the function of an ideology legitimizing statehood and a given form of governance.

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of Burmese would be of help.

 

Genocide and Prejudice: The Pretext of Sovereignty and Persistent Non-Intervention

Research question: Is abstaining from intervention by international community in multiple cases of genocide justified by the strict observance of the principle of sovereignty in order to conceal the real cause, namely, racial, ethnic, and other prejudice?

Background: No great power ever intervened in the case of any colonial genocide, due to the racist feeling that ‘these peoples were on a lower rank of civilization.’ Despite numerous reports no great power intervened in the course of the genocide of Circassians, because they were Muslims, and during the course of the Armenian genocide, because it took place outside Europe. In spite of tens of reports on the Holocaust received for over the period of three years none of the Allies bombed Auschwitz, due to persistent anti-Semitism. And its counterpart of anti-Tsiganism made them totally blind toward the Porajmos. The pattern of non-intervention and prejudice was repeated time and again after World War II in the cases of genocide in partitioned India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan’s Darfur or nowadays in the case of Myanmar’s Rohingiyas. The only intervention on record to stop genocide took place in Bosnia, because this genocide took place in Europe, the victims were unmistakably ‘white,’ and some of them even Christians.

Requirements: None; but languages relevant for selected cases may be of help.

 

The Silesian Language and Poland

Research question: Is Poland’s persistent non-recognition of the Silesian language caused by the ideology of ethnolinguistic nationalism that normatively insists on ethnolinguistic homogeneity for the proper nation-state?

Background: In Poland as an ethnolinguistic nation-state Polish is the sole official and national language. Everyone is expected to know it, while national minorities’ languages are tolerated only grudgingly, at best as mere school subjects in minority schools where Polish is the sole medium of education. In a moment of political liberalization, in 2005, Warsaw recognized Kashubian as a language in its own right, because the most majority of Kashubs define themselves as ethnic Poles. Not so in the case of almost a million Silesians, although officially the government insists they must be Poles. To add insult to injury, at least half of the Silesians still speak their language of Silesian. There is no place in Poland for the non-Polish language of Silesian and non-Polish Silesians, because recognizing both would push the numbers of speakers of recognized non-Polish languages and members of minorities well over 1 per cent of the population to 2-3 per cent. At present, with the non-recognition of the Silesians and their language, the statistics hovers at around half a percent.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Polish; a reading knowledge of German and Czech would be of help.

 

Anti-Roma Pogroms in Poland During the 1980s and 1990s

Research question & Background: Despite very few Roma living in today’s Poland (around 20,000), anti-Roma pogroms were quite frequent during the late communist and early postcommunist period. Was ingrained anti-Tsiganism the main cause, when the authorities were busy with other things rather than controlling and limiting the expression of this racist prejudice?

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Polish.

 

Expulsions of Roma from Italy and France

Research question & Background: In the early 2010s Roma – mainly EU citizens from Bulgaria and Romania were repeatedly, in blatant breach of EU law, expelled from Italy and France. Were these illegal expulsions caused by anti-Tsiganism (anti-Gypsism) on which politicians acted in order to gain more popularity among their electorates?

Requirements: None; but a reading knowledge of Italian and French can be helpful.

 

The Roma and House Demolishing in Bulgaria

Research question: Does the administrative injunction to demolish illegally built Roma houses serve bolstering local and national governments that use Bulgarian nationalism to boost their legitimacy; anti-Tsiganism (anti-Gypsism) being part and parcel of this nationalism?

Background: During the communist and postcommunist periods thousands of houses in Bulgaria were and still are constructed without the official planning paperwork. However, during the communist years only the illegally constructed houses of Turks and Muslims were ordered to be demolished, and nowadays such demolishing orders are issued almost exclusively against Roma’s houses. Ethnic Bulgarian built even more illegal houses without appropriate documentation, but the administration remains unconcerned with these.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Bulgarian

 

Postcommunism and Roma Pogroms

Research question & Background: The fall of communism and the period of systemic transition is characterized by a swelling wave of numerous pogroms against Roma in the postcommunist states from Lithuania and Latvia in the north to Albania and Bulgaria in the south, from the Czech Republic and Hungary in the west to Belarus and Moldova in the east. Was this aggressive and often lethal expression of anti-Tsiganism (anti-Gypsism) allowed by the authorities in order to turn citizens’ attention from everyday economic hardships, conveniently blamed on others, Roma included?

Requirements: None; though a reading knowledge of selected cases may be of help

 

The Tank Man and the Tiananmen Square Massacre

Research question & Background: Did the necessity of protecting the faltering legitimacy of the totalitarian system in China in 1989 necessitate the effective concealment of the identity of the Unknown Protester who stood firm with a plastic bag in hand to oppose the advancing tank in the Tiananmen Square prior to the massacre of the pro-democracy protesters? If the tankman’s identity were not concealed, he could become a potent symbol (and even leader) of China’s pro-democracy movement.

Requirements: None, though a reading knowledge of Chinese could be of help.

 

The Russian Federation and the Russian World: The Question of Russkii or Rossiiskii Nation

Research question & background: Is the choice between the Russkii (ethnically Russian) and Rossiiskii (all Russian-speakers irrespective of ethnic origin) model of the Russian nation tantamount to the choice between Russia as a nation-state and Russia as a still expanding empire?

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Russian.

 

 

The Human Cost of the Albanian-Soviet Rupture of 1961

Research question: Was the 1961 rupture of Tirana’s relations with Moscow the cause of the Albanian authorities ordering Albanian citizens their spouses who held citizenship of the Soviet bloc countries?

Background: After the 1947 Soviet-Yugoslav rift, Albania became an ally of the Kremlin and a member of the Soviet bloc and of the Warsaw Pact. Numerous Albanian students and specialists were sent to the Soviet bloc countries for university education and specialist professional experience. Many entered romantic relations, married, and brought their spouses to Albania. In the wake of de-stalinization that commenced in the Soviet Union in 1956, the relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly. Albanians were forced to divorce non-Albanian citizens. Their former spouses were incarcerated, many in concentration camps, and finally – in most cases – deported back to their countries of origin.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Albanian; a reading knowledge of other Soviet bloc countries may be helpful, depending on cases covered.

 

Egypt and Serbia as Early Nation-States

Research question: Did the founding of Egypt as a de facto independent nation-state influence the Serbian wlies to emulate this example in the case of their province then turned into a de facto independent nation-state?

Background: between 1801 and 1811, in the wake of the lifted French occupation of Egypt, the Ottoman warlord of Albanian ethnic origin, Muhammad Ali, seized power in Egypt and turned it into a successful modernizing nation-state. A sign of its success was vas territorial expansion from Crete to today’s Somalia and South Sudan. A bit later, but almost at the same time, in the northernmost reaches of the Ottoman Empire, two successive uprisings (known retroactively as the Serbian Revolution), between 1804 and 1815, led to Miloš Obrenović’s seizure of Serbia. And as in the case of Egypt, Serbia’s modernization was heralded by its successful territorial expansion, in the north to what today is Hungary, and in the south to what today is Greece. Both Egypt and Serbia became de facto independent but formally autonomous parts of the Ottoman Empire. Serbia officially gained independence in 1878, while Egypt in 1922. Both states remained kingdoms until socialists/communists/nationalists seized power in 1945 in the former case (that is, in Yugoslavia) and in 1952 in Egypt.

Requirements: None, but a reading knowledge of Arabic and Serbo-Croatian would be helpful.

 

 

The Republic of Pawłów and the End of Serfdom in 1769

Research question: Did the ideas of the French Revolution or a literal understanding of the Gospels cause the founding of the Republic of Pawłów?

Background: The Polish-Lithuanian canon priest bought a huge mansion of 30 sq km in what todays is southern Lithuania on the border with Belarus. He liquidated serfdom, gave personal freedom to the peasants and introduced elements of capitalist economy, with the right of co-decision for all males through the institution of democratic vote. The republic was liquidated in 1795, when in the course of the third partition of Poland-Lithuania Russia seized this area.

Requirements: A reading knowledge of Polish; a reading knowledge of Belarusian, Russian, Latin or Lithuanian may be helpful.

 

Socialist Movement and a Remembrance of the Republic of Pawłów

Research question: Did a persistent remembrance of the Republic of Pawłów spur on the development of socialist movements in the territories of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (today’s Belarus and Lithuania) at the turn of the 20th century?

Background: The Polish-Lithuanian canon priest bought a huge mansion of 30 sq km in what todays is southern Lithuania on the border with Belarus. He liquidated serfdom, gave personal freedom to the peasants and introduced elements of capitalist economy, with the right of co-decision for all males through the institution of democratic vote. The republic was liquidated in 1795, when in the course of the third partition of Poland-Lithuania Russia seized this area. A century later, in this area numerous ethnic (Belarusian, Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian) and non-ethnic socialist movements developed, especially after 1905 when male suffrage was introduced in the Russian Empire.

Requirements: Depending on cases covered, a reading knowledge of Belarusian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, or Yiddish.

 

 

 

 

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