Category Archives: History

Paul Manning – Strangers in a Strange Land: Occidentalist Publics and Orientalist Geographies in Nineteenth-Century Georgian Imaginaries

Manning examines the formation of nineteenth-century intelligentsia print publics in the former Soviet republic of Georgia both anthropologically and historically. At once somehow part of “Europe,” at least aspirationally, and yet rarely recognized by others as such, Georgia attempted to forge European style publics as a strong claim to European identity. These attempts also produced a crisis of self-defi nition, as European Georgia sent newspaper correspondents into newly reconquered Oriental Georgia, only to discover that the people of these lands were strangers. In this encounter, the community of “strangers” of European Georgian publics proved unable to assimilate the people of the “strange land” of Oriental Georgia. This crisis produced both notions of Georgian public life and European identity which this book explores.

Manning, P. (2012). Strangers in a Strange Land: Occidentalist Publics and Orientalist Geographies in Nineteenth-Century Georgian Imaginaries. Academic Studies Press.

See on Academia.edu; Review (Rebecca Gould, Ab Imperio)

Stephen F. Jones – Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917

Georgian social democracy was the most successful social democratic movement in the Russian Empire. Despite its small size, it produced many of the leading revolutionary figures of 1917, including Irakli Tsereteli, Karlo Chkheidze, Noe Zhordania, and Joseph Stalin. In the first of two volumes, Stephen Jones writes the first history in English of this undeservedly neglected national movement, which represented one of the earliest examples of European social democracy at the turn of the twentieth century.

Georgian social democracy was part of the Russian social democracy from which Bolshevism and Menshevism emerged. But innovative theoretical programs and tactics led Georgian social democracy down an independent path. The powerful Georgian organization united all native classes behind it, and it set a remarkable precedent for many of the anti-colonial nationalist movements of the twentieth century. At the same time, Georgian social democracy was committed to a “European” path, a “third way” that attempted to combine grassroots democracy, private manufacturing, and private land ownership with socialist ideology.

One of the few Western historians fluent in Georgian, Jones fills major gaps in the history of revolutionary and national movements of the Russian Empire.

Jones, S. F. (2005). Socialism in Georgian colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917. Harvard University Press.

See on books.google.com; Review (Susanne Hillman, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies)

Georgi M. Derluguian – Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography

Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is a gripping account of the developmental dynamics involved in the collapse of Soviet socialism. Fusing a narrative of human agency to his critical discussion of structural forces, Georgi M. Derluguian reconstructs from firsthand accounts the life story of Musa Shanib—who from a small town in the Caucasus grew to be a prominent leader in the Chechen revolution. In his examination of Shanib and his keen interest in the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, Derluguian discerns how and why this dissident intellectual became a nationalist warlord.

Exploring globalization, democratization, ethnic identity, and international terrorism, Derluguian contextualizes Shanib’s personal trajectory from de-Stalinization through the nationalist rebellions of the 1990s, to the recent rise in Islamic militancy. He masterfully reveals not only how external economic and political forces affect the former Soviet republics but how those forces are in turn shaped by the individuals, institutions, ethnicities, and social networks that make up those societies. Drawing on the work of Charles Tilly, Immanuel Wallerstein, and, of course, Bourdieu, Derluguian’s explanation of the recent ethnic wars and terrorist acts in Russia succeeds in illuminating the role of human agency in shaping history.

Derluguian, G. M. (2005). Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography. University of Chicago Press.

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Ronald Grigor Suny – The Making of the Georgian Nation

Like the other republics floating free after the demise of the Soviet empire, the independent republic of Georgia is reinventing its past, recovering what had been forgotten or distorted during the long years of Russian and Soviet rule. Whether Georgia can successfully be transformed from a society rent by conflict into a pluralistic democratic nation will depend on Georgians rethinking their history.

This is the first comprehensive treatment of Georgian history, from the ethnogenesis of the Georgians in the first millennium B.C., through the period of Russian and Soviet rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the emergence of an independent republic in 1991, the ethnic and civil warfare that has ensued, and perspectives for Georgia’s future.

Suny, R. G. (1994). The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press.

See on books.google.com

Thomas de Waal – The Caucasus: An Introduction

In this fascinating book, noted journalist Thomas de Waal–author of the highly acclaimed Black Garden–makes the case that while the Caucasus is often treated as a sub-plot in the history of Russia, or as a mere gateway to Asia, the five-day war in Georgia, which flared into a major international crisis in 2008, proves that this is still a combustible region, whose inner dynamics and history deserve a much more complex appreciation from the wider world. In The Caucasus, de Waal provides this richer, deeper, and much-needed appreciation, one that reveals that the South Caucasus–Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and their many smaller regions, enclaves, and breakaway entities–is a fascinating and distinct world unto itself. Providing both historical background and an insightful analysis of the period after 1991, de Waal sheds light on how the region has been scarred by the tumultuous scramble for independence and the three major conflicts that broke out with the end of the Soviet Union–Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. The book examines the region as a major energy producer and exporter; offers a compelling account of the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the rise of Mikheil Saakashvili, and the August 2008 war; and considers the failure of the South Caucasus, thus far, to become a single viable region. In addition, the book features a dozen or so “boxes” which provide brief snapshots of such fascinating side topics as the Kurds, Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, the promotion of the region as the “Soviet Florida,” and the most famous of all Georgians, Stalin. The Caucasus delivers a vibrantly written and timely account of this turbulent region, one that will prove indispensable for all concerned with world politics. It is, as well, a stimulating read for armchair travelers and for anyone curious about far-flung corners of the world.

De Waal, T. (2010). The Caucasus: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.

See on books.google.com; Review (The Economist)