New Publications: May 2014

Project “Georgica” presents the brief overview of publications about Georgia issued in May, 2014.

Books

Mühlfried, F. (2014). Being a state and states of being in highland Georgia. Berghahn Books, Easa Series.

The highland region of the republic of Georgia, one of the former Soviet Socialist Republics, has long been legendary for its beauty. It is often assumed that the state has only made partial inroads into this region, and is mostly perceived as alien. Taking a fresh look at the Georgian highlands allows the author to consider perennial questions of citizenship, belonging, and mobility in a context that has otherwise been known only for its folkloric dimensions. Scrutinizing forms of identification with the state at its margins, as well as local encounters with the erratic Soviet and post-Soviet state, the author argues that citizenship is both a sought-after means of entitlement and a way of guarding against the state. This book not only challenges theories in the study of citizenship but also the axioms of integration in Western social sciences in general.

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Academic Articles

Lebanidze, B.: What makes authoritarian regimes sweat? Linkage, leverage and democratization in post-Soviet South Caucasus. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2014

This paper seeks to investigate the role of the international environment in the democratic transition process in the post-Soviet South Caucasus states. Based on the famous theoretical model of linkage and leverage, the influence of two main regional actors, Russia and the West (In this paper, ‘the West’ is conceptualized as the sum of influences stemming from the EU, the US and the multinational institutions dominated by the Western states (e.g. NATO, the IMF, the World Bank, and EBRD).), are explained and conceptualized. The paper argues that competitive authoritarianism, the form of political regime that is believed to be predominant in the region, is the result of the flawed democratization strategy pursued by the EU and the US on the one hand and the influence of Russia, the counter-hegemonic power, on the other hand, which explicitly or implicitly decreases the transformative power of the West.

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Chakhaia, L., Andguladze, N., Janelidze, A., Pruidze, N.: Identities, cultural capital, educational choices and post-communist transition: an ethnographic study of Georgian youth. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2014

This paper summarizes a qualitative study of the educational decision-making of adolescents with diverse backgrounds in the post-Soviet republic of Georgia. The results suggest that a set of institutional factors force young people with certain backgrounds to drop out of school at an early stage, even when alternative education or labour market options are not available for them. The absence of fear of downward mobility among some parents may be helping to increase educational inequality. Parental motivation can be seen as a form of capital that is particularly valued by teachers, who attenuate aspirations of those students whose parents lack it and encourage them to leave the system.

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Kitaevich, E. J.: History that splinters: education reforms and memory politics in the Republic of Georgia. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2014

Sudden collapse of Communism and uncertainty of the new order brought about renewed fascination with the national history. Much of the research on collective memory formation and identity-building in the post-Soviet space, however, paid disproportionate attention to the role of the state as the main locus of collective memory production. The method of qualitative inquiry proposed in this article, in a social constructivist vein, examines the formation of collective memory narratives and the visions of statehood from the ground up in the context of Georgia. Based on the analysis of the data derived from extensive interviews with 64 school teachers of history, as well as content analysis of nine textbooks, and several versions of the official curriculum plan, I suggest that societal views of history, are noticeably divided along the generational cleavage lines, forming four distinct categories of narratives that respond to and often contest the state-generated discourse, while informing the visions of statehood of the members of polity.

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Driscoll, J., Hidalgo, D.: Intended and unintended consequences of democracy promotion assistance to Georgia after the Rose Revolution. Research & Politics April-June 2014 vol. 1 no. 1

What are the political consequences of democratization assistance to regimes transitioning from authoritarian rule? By exploiting the downstream effects of a field experiment designed to encourage citizen monitoring of Georgia’s 2008 parliamentary elections, we evaluate the political consequences of one type of democracy promotion aid. The intervention increased citizen activism, but it also had the unanticipated effect of suppressing overall voter turnout by approximately 5%. We hypothesize that the civic education campaign was interpreted as a sign of increased political attention to a selected voting precinct, which suppressed opposition turnout. Two additional experiments provide additional evidence for the hypothesis.

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Blauvelt, T.: The ‘Mingrelian Question’: Institutional Resources and the Limits of Soviet Nationality Policy. Europe-Asia Studies

Based on primary source materials from the Georgian Party archive and periodical press, this article examines the conflict between central and local elites in the Soviet Republic of Georgia over whether or not to grant linguistic and territorial rights to residents of one of its regions. The case demonstrates how the promises and aspirations of Soviet nationality policy were actually negotiated and interpreted on the local level in the early years of Soviet power, and how actors attempted to make use of nationality policy in order to mobilise the institutional resources available to them.

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Dobbins, M., Khachatryan, S.: Europeanization in the “Wild East”? Analyzing higher education governance reform in Georgia and Armenia. Higher Education, May 2014

The authors examine higher education developments in two peripheral post-communist countries—Georgia and Armenia, whose education systems have previously received little attention in the literature. They focus on how both countries’ models of higher education governance have evolved through the phase of political transformation and recent period of geopolitical tensions and more intense Europeanization and internationalization. Based on a series of empirical indicators for three ideal-types of higher governance derived from the previous literature, the authors assess the transformed relationship between the state and higher education institutions. Specifically, they focus on the extent to which both systems have converged on a market-oriented model of Anglo-American inspiration. The empirical analysis shows that following western practices has become a common leitmotiv of policy-makers in both countries and that new forms of “co-governance” between the state and university management have emerged. However, the authors argue that policy learning from the West has taken place in a very selective and tactical manner, as market-oriented steering instruments are only being adopted to the extent that they do not undermine the state’s means for political control over higher education.

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Gotfredsen, K. B.: Void Pasts and Marginal Presents: On Nostalgia and Obsolete Futures in the Republic of Georgia. Slavic review. Volume 73 Number 2

In contemporary Georgia and beyond, nostalgia for the Soviet past is often ridiculed and dismissed as a reactionary wish to turn back time. In this article, however, I explore generational nostalgia as temporal displacement of present political struggles. Drawing on life story interviews with middle-aged and elderly people in the provincial town of Gori, I argue that nostalgic longings may be understood as active attempts to presence personal pasts and futures that have publicly been rendered absent by an official rhetoric and practice that explicitly rejects the Soviet past. From this perspective, post-Soviet generational nostalgia temporally connects several dimensions of absence: the experience of one’s personal past being publicly cast as void; a perceived lack of social security, influence, and significance in the present; and a dynamic whereby these two dimensions render former dreams and visions for the future obsolete.

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Manning, P.: Once Upon a Time, There Was Sex in Georgia. Slavic review. Volume 73 Number 2

Georgians have long found in the remote mountainous regions of Georgia, Pshavi and Khevsureti, a fragmentary ethnographic image of a romantic and exotic “once upon a time” version of Georgia. Georgians have been particularly tantalized by images of the strange sexual practices of these mountains (called ts’ats’loba), which represent a kind of paradoxical “sex without sex,” a seeming inversion of normative Georgian sexuality, belonging at the same time to the most “Georgian” part of Georgia. Fragmentary images of this “Georgian ancestral sex” circulate in a complex, multigenred interdiscursive space of citationality, becoming, in this recirculation, a haunting absent presence, re-presentations of a sexual alterity shot through with lacunae and absences, which become full of virtual potentiality as these gaps and absences are filled in with one’s own imagination and desire. This article ethnographically traces the citational connections between these fragmentary images of sexuality.

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Dunn, E. C.: Humanitarianism, Displacement, and the Politics of Nothing in Postwar Georgia. Slavic review. Volume 73 Number 2

After the 2008 war with Russia, many internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Republic of Georgia complained that they had nothing, despite the fact that international donors gave more than $450 million in humanitarian aid. What was nothing? How was it related to forced migration? Why did humanitarianism continually focus the IDPs’ attention on what they had lost rather than the help they had been given? In this article, I use the work of existentialist philosopher Alain Badiou to argue that humanitarianism creates four forms of absence: anti-artifacts, black holes, imaginary numbers, and absolute zero. These forms of nothingness force displaced people into having nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing, which in turn prevents them from reassembling the fragments of their previous lives into meaningful forms of existence in the present.

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Fredriksen, M. D.: The Would-Be State: Reforms, NGOs, and Absent Presents in Postrevolutionary Georgia. Slavic review. Volume 73 Number 2

In the wake of the 2003 revolution in Georgia, the speed of reform in the sphere of psychosocial aid meant that a range of international donors left the country, believing that the services provided by local NGOs, whom they had been supporting, were now taken over by the state. However, many of the reforms and institutional changes officially initiated during this period were never implemented. Hence, an array of present-day problems remained unresolved or untreated because they would be addressed by the state “in the future.” In this article, I refer to this as a would-be state: the condition of that which will be in the future and a state that gains its legitimacy by promising a better tomorrow. By rendering certain issues as unproblematic in future, the Georgian state has managed to make them appear to unproblematic (and thus absent) in the present. I use this framework to engage in a wider discussion of the measures of success in eastern Europe’s new democracies.

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Must-Read Articles

Cecire, M.: Georgia’s Fifth Column Stirs-A wakeup call for the West. The American Interest, 19.05.2014

As the U.S. and Europe struggle to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Moscow hopes to export its Orthodox-Nationalist ideology to Georgia—just as public cynicism towards Tbilisi’s pro-West political consensus is increasing.

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Think-Tank Reports

Coffey, L..: Strengthen Bilateral Defense Cooperation with Georgia. The Heritage Foundation, 05.05.2014

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Filed in: News

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Richard Bennet – Delivering on the Hope of the Rose Revolution: Public Sector Reform in Georgia, 2004-2009 Richard Bennet – Delivering on the Hope of the Rose Revolution: Public Sector Reform in Georgia, 2004-2009
David Rinnert – The Politics of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms in Development—Explaining Within‐Country Variation of Reform Outcomes in Georgia after the Rose Revolution David Rinnert – The Politics of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms in Development—Explaining Within‐Country Variation of Reform Outcomes in Georgia after the Rose Revolution
Kevin Tuite – Achilles and the Caucasus Kevin Tuite – Achilles and the Caucasus
Zaza Shatirishvili and Paul Manning – Why are the Dolls Laughing? Tbilisi Culture between “High Art” and Socialist Labor. Zaza Shatirishvili and Paul Manning – Why are the Dolls Laughing? Tbilisi Culture between “High Art” and Socialist Labor.

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