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Ivane Javakhishvili’s Long Shadow in Times of Globalization: National Identity in Post-Soviet Georgian Historiography

April 19 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm +04

About the Event:

Thirty years after the demise of the Soviet Union, independent Georgia’s historiography is still suffering a deep crisis. After years of economic decline, interethnic conflict, and anarchic civil war, Georgian historians continue to publicly praise the country’s glorious past. Still, due to the politicization of ethnicity following the Sovietization of Georgia in the 1920s and the establishment of hierarchical ethnopolitical administrative units in the USSR, ethnic nationalism became a permanent factor of internal politics. 

Historiography became a tool for legitimizing the privileged status of titular groups in their respective territorial units. Instead of the “friendship of peoples,” historians figured pivotally in the elaboration of national histories. By relying on the inseparable “historical truth” on one’s own side (“us”) and the misinterpretation of the other’s side (“them”), historians reproduce the Soviet pattern of xenophobia that was used to legitimize claims over the control of the ethnic administrative-territorial units that were established in the Stalinist period. 

History was instrumentalized for political reasons as a mobilizing force in the separation of different ethnic groups as nations. Thus, it created the pretext and legitimacy for the political conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

When talking about recent developments, this deep-rooted common legacy of the national historiographies of the South Caucasian republics and their minorities still persists in the latest publications of Georgian historiography. To understand this problem more deeply, we will turn to the new conceptual framework for the recently independent nations because this is a condition sine qua non.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Oliver Reisner is a professor in European and Caucasian Studies and former Jean Monnet Chair at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Language: English


April 19
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm +04
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Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis
+374 60 612580