Monday, August 15, 2005

History Carnival #14

The recent history carnivals have been setting somewhat arbitrary limits on the number of posts to be included (and announcing the limits on publication, not, as near as I can tell, when the call for links is sent). I like the carnival, but I wonder if that is the way to handle it? If the self-nominations are really coming in by the score, it might make sense, but then the Carnival does lose a bit of the "drawing the community together" function it would play if it cast a wider net.

To be fair, this is a very good edition of the carnival: well-displayed (quite stylish, actually, as you'd expect from someone of Natalie Bennett's talents and taste) and well-explicated and organized. Great stuff, from Hobbits and Carribbean Carnivals to sheep's eyes and bull testicles. Great stuff!


J. Otto Pohl said...

The limitations are also ideologically driven. Only those posts adhering to certain unwritten criteria are acceptable. These critera are quite politically correct. They will never for instance except a post on Soviet discrimination against Russian-Germans. It will either be ignored or rejected as "too technical." I have a couple posts about the History Carnival's selection policies.

Ahistoricality said...

I disagree. The diversity of hosts (there have been quite a few self-identified conservatives in the last few months, along with obvious liberals and very professionally neutral folks) makes it impossible to enforce an ideological filter, even if one existed.

I think the quality of the last few carnivals has been high and the material quite diverse, both historically and politically. There's just a piece of me which isn't entirely ready to abandon freewheeling inclusiveness and accept qualitative discipline as the norm in blogspace.

J. Otto Pohl said...

The ideological parameters are not about conservative. But, rather about what is academically hip. Hence writings about the plight of politically incorrect people such the Russian-Germans will never be featured. It is just not considered a "cool" topic. I can almost guarantee that no History Carnival will ever post one of my entries. You can to my blog and see what they have been specifically for the last three carnivals.

Ahistoricality said...

If you're going to use terms like "politically correct" differently than the rest of us, you're going to have to be clear about it.

Either you're talking about a political bias, or you're talking about a historiographical generation to which you just don't belong. I think the former makes more sense, based on what you've said, though you're trying to make it out to be the latter: it doesn't work, though, because there are lots of folks interested in explicating and rehashing Soviet and Russian depravities.

J. Otto Pohl said...

There are indeed many people writing about Soviet atrocities. Although I have not seen any in the last three History Carnivals. Maybe I overlooked them. But, that was not by point. I was making a far narrower argument.

Certain ideas are excluded from consideration. The particular one I was making is that Soviet nationality policies towards Russian-Germans were policies of racialized exclusion. This is a politically incorrect idea. First, it brings the USSR into comparison with regimes like Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. The extreme resistance by many in the US academy to comparisons between the USSR and Nazi Germany is too well known to go over here. Suffice it to say that many people on both the left and right seem to cling to an idea of Soviet national equality. Usually in the form of class based arguments. I have frequently read claims that Stalin never singled out peoples for destruction on the basis of their ethnicity. In many American Academic circles it is the reigning orthodoxy.

Second, except for maybe the Palestinians, ethnic Germans are probably the most "unworthy victims" around. Even in the US one can compare the historical treatment of the exclusion and internment of Japanese-Americans and Italian-Americans with that of German-Americans. The former two groups have received official apologies from the US government. The 10,905 German-American interned during World War II have not. Again I have read over and over again that only Japanese-Americans were interned. A factually incorrect, but politically correct statement.

Prehaps I am wrong, but I get the feeling that the History Carnival people are only interested in safe topics. So while much is written about race, writing about how the Soviets legally defined Russian-Germans in racial terms is not. Soviet persecution of capitalists and Jews woud be safe topics, but Germans and Muslims too controversial. So I am using politically correct as fitting in the reigning orthodoxy both poltically and conceputally. If I am wrong prehaps you can show me some counter examples.

Ahistoricality said...

Again with the "History Carnival people"... The one thing they have in common is that they're bloggers, and we bloggers, by and large, love controversy, particularly when we can court it by citing someone else so that we're not responsible. I'm sorry, Mr. Pohl, but I'm not buying it.

And, blogger to blogger, your comment here is far more likely to be worth consideration in the carnival than the post you recently submitted, which didn't really make any of these points terribly clearly. I thought you were writing a book for a wider public: I would think that blogging would be a really good way to exercise those skills.