Monday, November 30, 2009


Damn, this is dragging on. I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Ugh. I hate being behind. The essays are always a bitch.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm not even going to feel slightly glum over needing to crash for the next four days on grading. I was very productive dissertation-wise last week. So I'm going to make breakfast, hit the gym, shower and then do the short answers today. Essays always take more time, so they get Saturday and Sunday. I'll plug, chug and print on Monday, return the papers on Tuesday. So let it be written; so let it be done!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lit Review Update 3

The Naimark chapter went by fairly quickly. I need to start grading now. Then I'll do a quick write-up on the Armenian genocide. Look for that early next week. Then, on to Nazi Germany.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lit Review Update 2

I'm starting the Naimark tonight. I got all the Nazi case material copied this morning at school.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lit Review Update 1

Both of the Armenia chapters in Mann are done. In the next few days I need to finish the Naimark and the Staub chapters (both much shorter and less detailed than even a single Mann chapter). Then I’ll do an intermediate write-up for the blog and move on to the Nazis.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Starting a Lit Review

My time in Tel Aviv has dealt me a significant reversal. I’ve had to punt on my old thesis. I initially thought that Lebanon’s consociational constitution served to accentuate confessional identity in Lebanon, making it easier to objectify people. As objectifying people is a requisite for killing them, I postulated that in a civil war, Lebanon was more likely to have ethnic cleansing than Jordan. Jordan, after all, has spent most of its history denying any identity differences between its citizens. Sadly, the samples I was able to photograph from an-Nahar don’t back me up. In the few years prior to the outbreak of the Lebanon 1975-1990 Civil War, I found only one headline that dealt with confessional identity. This was a purely administrative article announcing that the Druze personal court would open two weeks later than the other person courts that legal season. The predominant local identities were all economic: workers, teachers, unionists, etc. In contrast, a few days after the `Ayn Rumaniyyeh Massacre, the papers began talking about Christian parties. As far as I can see, ethnicity is salient only after the war begins.

My goal is to have a new theory chapter by New Year’s Day. Ideally, I can convert that into a proposal, but I want the theory chapter first. Proposals have proven more difficult for me until I have a clear picture of the project. So let’s build the theory chapter. The goal is to map it thoroughly. I need to acknowledge that I can’t allow my brain to organize spontaneously behind my imagination. I am no longer capable of thinking at several levels simultaneously. I can get all the divine influence the muses want to send me and the truth is that I can’t channel it all. I simply cannot organize it quickly enough for it "flow" from me. I can only manage the flow of imagination in dribs and drabs. Writing cannot be ecstatic or charismatic anymore. I have to force myself to plod without getting depressed and without losing focus. Writing isn’t ecstasy anymore. I have to find some reason to like it again.

The most difficult part of every theory chapter is damned lit review. So let’s make a laundry list of what we need:

  1. I’m hoping the strength of my interpretive approach will be clear when I go over the largely contradictory literature on ethnic cleansing. Most of these models are attempts at being necessary and sufficient models. I need to review these works and show their shortcomings.

  2. A review of the psychological problems, particularly the ingroup/outgroup dynamics, associated with killing as a task.

  3. Material to draw on that demonstrates the normative problems of dealing with ethnic cleansing as a topic. I need to find pieces that I don’t like because they are so focused on morally condemning the act of ethnic cleansing that they can’t be troubled to understand it.

  4. Part of my argument suggests that ethnic cleansing is rare enough an activity that making a statistical model would be difficult Some people have taken this tack, but I’m not sure that it’s true. I need to know this literature.

So I'll go in order, find pieces for each part and report back here. Let's see how it goes. I warned anyone who might be reading that this is the most boring blog ever.