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The article deals with constructing and/or reproducing sites of national memory and cultural heritage among Georgian immigrant communities in the USA (New York City) and Germany (Berlin and Regensburg). Georgian immigrant communities in the USA and Germany consist of “old” and “new” arrivals, with people of various ages as well as different professional and employment backgrounds. We try to address the questions: how do socioeconomic challenges, legal immigration status, job opportunities and living conditions influence immigrants’ attitudes toward national identity and culture? How do plans to stay and integrate into host societies define the ways immigrants “practice” nationalism? The symbolic realm of Georgian immigrant communities in the USA and Germany consists of both tangible and intangible sites of national identity and memory, as well as cultural heritage. We reflect on how national identity is “crystalized” and represented in material and physical settings (churches, and icon corners at home, for instance) and in certain national, cultural, and religious practices. These practices as cultural expressions manifest in preserving the native language, adhering to the Christian faith, celebrating Orthodox Christian holidays, learning national songs and dances, maintaining traditional cuisine, and eating habits, and more.

In: Caucasus Survey
Author: Khatai Aliyev

In responding to the Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, some policy responses to suppress and mitigate the disease’s socio-economic effects have been more effective than others. Despite resource wealth Azerbaijan has a problem with public trust in institutions, which is revealed in the responses to Covid-19, especially its economic impacts. This research employs a mixed-method approach to explore Azerbaijan’s Covid-19 policy response and its socio-economic effects. An explorative analysis reveals the country’s poor level of preparedness before the pandemic and ambiguous public opinion on the government’s anti-pandemic policies. A substantial part of the population reports low self-perceived satisfaction with life, their financial situation and social environment, and significant concerns about the strict quarantine regime’s long duration and high probability of being unemployed. In addition, people’s satisfaction with life, financial situation, and social environment are statistically significant correlates of public opinion on Azerbaijan’s Covid-19 policy response. Therefore, the government should reconsider its current Covid-19 policy responses for future crisis management policies. Long-term disruption of economic life could have high socio-economic costs and repercussions for well-being, create institutional distrust and bring further instabilities. Enhancing public trust in the state should be a top priority in the government agenda.

In: Caucasus Survey
Author: Arnold McMillin

Abstract

This article presents a personal view of the Francis Skaryna Library and Museum in London from its early days to the present, reflecting its ups and downs, as well as some of its affiliations like the Anglo-Belarusian Society and the Association of Belarusians in Great Britain, and in later years fruitful connections with the British Library and the National Library of Belarus. It concentrates on a few of the many interesting and distinguished people who have been associated with the Francis Skaryna Library and Museum over the years, including clerics, prominent and younger writers from Britain and abroad, not least Belarus, numerous scholars and many other enthusiasts for a small country with its books (old and new), journals, manuscripts, music and many artefacts. By common consent, it is an unmatched source of primary and secondary materials for research, as well as a beacon of stability and culture in the West during the period since World War II that has been so turbulent in Belarus itself.

In: Journal of Belarusian Studies

Today, Stalin still haunts the Georgian public. Recent studies have focused solely on “collected” quantitative surveys, rather than “collective” memory on Stalin in Georgia. This paper approaches the Stalin puzzle differently by introducing specific social frameworks and by going beyond a generational analysis. This study illustrates a case of contested memory around Stalin monuments. Drawing on fieldwork (ethnography and interviews) conducted in the Kakheti region and the city of Gori, we analyse how the Stalin cult developed into a memory site. This transformation happened by applying a specific narrative template, which was adapted to different political environments, from the Stalin era until today. We conclude that two opposing interpretations of the narrative template for Stalin as a memory site rely on the same forms, while containing totally different content that we label as an affirmative “golden” variant and an unfavourable “pink” one.

In: Caucasus Survey
Author: Nino Chikovani

The paper deals with the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures at the Mtatsminda rise in Tbilisi. The latter represents a memory site of widely recognized symbolic importance for a long time. Initiated at the end of the nineteenth century and opened in the 1920s, the Pantheon was conceived of as a symbol of collective identity of Georgia. The status of the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures has largely defined its history in the following decades, both in the Soviet period and afterwards. The paper aims to trace the transformation of the idea of the Mtatsminda Pantheon as a symbol of Georgian identity over a century, to explain how and why the meanings assigned to the Pantheon evolved over time, thus contributing towards the formation of a collective memory – one of the essential elements of national identity. The work draws upon factual evidence and theoretical judgements presented in various pieces of research, as well as the analysis of papers reflecting different subject-specific discussions, information spread by media outlets, including popular newspapers, magazines, and official documents.

In: Caucasus Survey

The paper deals with the multifaceted representation of Georgian public figure Ilia Chavchavadze (1837–1907). Paradoxically, he is treated as a great and gifted son of Georgia by various and sometimes drastically different segments of modern Georgian society. In the framework of memory studies, Ilia is a stunning example of how certain historical figures are manipulated by different regimes to legitimize their power and/or to stake their political claims. For the Soviet regime, he was a fighter for equality and revolutionary changes. By researching different attitudes towards Ilia from the historical perspective and using theories of cultural memory, numerous questions related to controversial interpretations of Ilia Chavchavadze’s activities will be answered. The aim of the given research is to analyze the narrative dynamics surrounding Ilia Chavchavadze’s personality and to analyze the struggle between narratives which ended in the complete triumph of the official policy of memory within a strict ideological framework. We focus on the nature and reasons for the dramatic transformations of Ilia Chavchavadze’s image in different political and social contexts.

In: Caucasus Survey

Territorial integrity is one of the central tropes in contemporary Georgian cultural memory and historical imaginaries. The article traces when, how, and why the narrative of the “miraculous victory” of medieval Georgian King David IV the Builder over Seljuk Turks in the Battle of Didgori in August 1121 and his seizing of Tbilisi entered the Georgian “realms of memory”. This complex and often contradictory mnemonic legacy, shaped by medieval, imperial (Tsarist and Soviet), and nation-state (the First Republic and post-Soviet Georgia) conjunctures, feeds the current representations of this military success as a symbol of the unification of the Georgian state. In the Soviet and post-Soviet “regimes of memory”, the story of Didgori and reconquering Tbilisi became intertwined with territorial nationalism. In the unilinear Soviet Georgian narrative, these victories appear as “progressive” and unifying occurrences. In the post-Soviet period, ethnoreligious nationalism and re-sacralization of David’s image and the challenges to the country’s territorial integrity motivated Georgians to zoom in and magnify selected images of the glorious past. These historical events represent a fateful and luminous episode in the nation’s history that fed hope for an analogous victory and restoration of the country’s territorial integrity.

In: Caucasus Survey
In: Caucasus Survey

On September 27, 2020, the three-decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted into war. During 44 days of organized violence that claimed thousands of lives, the political leadership of Armenia and Azerbaijan along with public intellectuals, journalists, artists and ordinary citizens, continually and publicly expressed pro-war sentiments and confidence in their victory. This article examines the strategies of Azerbaijani and Armenian political and intellectual elites and the formation of myths and conflict narratives that steadily led the two societies towards the Second Karabakh War. It further examines the post-war discursive developments that are working to set Armenia and Azerbaijan on the path to a new round of destructive confrontation.

In: Caucasus Survey