On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union
Welcome to the RUCARR zoom seminar with Prof. Oliver Reisner (School of Arts & Sciences, Jean Monnet Chair, European & Caucasian Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi). The topic of his talk is On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union.
When: May 25, 2021
Where: zoom, sign up here
In the past few years the first systematizing and critically reflective works on area studies in the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union appeared. However, neither Eastern European history concentrating on the Slavic peoples nor philological Oriental studies have so far sufficiently addressed the effects of Tsarist and Soviet systems of scientific research into the Caucasus. In contrast, in the young post-Soviet nation-states, scholars often tend to interpret the share of Soviet research in their own national research traditions as a product of external determination, oppression or colonization, or at least they completely ignore it. The establishment of ‘kavkazovednie’ or Caucasiology as area studies represents the focus of my talk. The knowledge gained in this field is not considered as fixed, but seen as part of a culturally negotiated understanding of the Caucasus region. We will take a look at the places and groups supporting research in a concrete ‘microcosm’, here the Faculty for Oriental Languages of St. Petersburg University, the Caucasian Historical Archaeological Institute (1917) or the first Georgian university (1918) in Tbilisi. Research was embedded in varying political and social environments of Petersburg/Leningrad, Moscow and Tbilisi (Tiflis) for the Caucasus. I attempt to clarify the interdependence of these three ‘areas of experience’ in my discussion of the role of scholarship in state and society. Scientific achievement has been of particular importance for the self-understanding and representation of an imperial-state as well as respective nations. Recent studies into the practice of research in the early Soviet Union address most of all the effectiveness of scientific paradigms of nation building, but not so far scope and approaches of Caucasus Studies as area studies as an academic practice.
Oliver Reisner is professor in European and Caucasian Studies at Ilia State University Tbilisi (Georgia) since 2015. He received his Dr. phil. degree in East European History for a thesis on nation building in Georgia at Göttingen University (2000), coordinated the MA programme “Central Asia / Caucasus” at Humboldt University Berlin (2000-2003). After implementing an EU-funded civic integration project with World Vision in Georgia, from 2005 until 2015 he was working as project manager at the EU Delegation to Georgia. He published a monograph and 28 papers, most recently on Europeanisation, religion, civil society in Georgia as well as the Georgia country reports for the Bertelsmann Transformation Index. He is a member of the board of the “Association of European Studies for the Caucasus” and of the advisory council of the “European Journal of Minority Issues”. Currently he is leading a research project “In Search of Social Cohesion in Minor Urban Settings of Georgia” (Rustaveli National Science Foundation). Finally, he is co-editor of the series “Caucasian Studies” at Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden.
The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries
When: April 20, 3.15-5.00 CET
Where: Sign up here for Zoom link
Dr. Erica Marat is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Regional and Analytical Studies Department at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defence University. She has previously directed Homeland Defense Fellowship Program at CISA.
Dr. Marat’s research focuses on violence, mobilization and security institutions in Eurasia, India, and Mexico. During our seminar, she will present her book – The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries. What does it take to reform a post-Soviet police force? Across the region, the countries inherited remarkably similar police forces with identical structures, chains of command, and politicized relationships with the political elite. Centralized in control but decentralized in their reach, the police remain one of the least reformed post-communist institutions. As a powerful state organ, the Soviet-style militarized police have resisted change despite democratic transformations in the overall political context, including rounds of competitive elections and growing civil society. This book explores the conditions in which a meaningful transformation of the police is likely to succeed and when it will fail. Based on the analysis of five post-Soviet countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan) that have officially embarked on police reform efforts, the book examines various pathways to transforming how the state relates to society through policing. It develops a new understanding of both police and police reform. Departing from the conventional interpretation of the police as merely an institution of coercion, this study defines it as a medium for state-society consensus on the limits of the state’s legitimate use of violence. Police are, according to a common Russian saying, a “mirror of society”—serving as a counterweight to its complexity. Police reform, in turn, is a process of consensus-building on the rationale of the use of violence through discussions, debates, media, and advocacy.
This year marks 30 years since the 1991 referendum on the restoration Georgia’s statehood and the following declaration of independence. The years 1988-91 were a period of profound changes in the republics of the Soviet Union, subsequently leading up to the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991. In the RUCARR seminar on April 9 the presenters Merab Chukhua and Tina Tskhovrebadze approach and discuss the process of restoration of Georgia’s statehood from two perspectives:
From the 9th of April to the 9th of April – a brief glance
Dr. Merab Chukhua was active in the national movement in Soviet Georgia during the last years of the Soviet Union and is currently Professor of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Department of Caucasiology, and also Director of the Circassian Culture Center (Tbilisi).
Politics of Memory in the Process of Georgian Statehood Restoration
Tina Tskhovrebadze is a PhD Candidate at the Dept of Political Science Tbilisi State University and currently working as a research assistant in the project Politics of Memory in Georgia in 1988-1991 at the Institute of Political Science. She a former visiting PhD Candidate to Caucasus Studies, Malmö University.
When: April 9 13.15–15.00 (Zoom, CET, Swedish time).
Special thanks to Chargé d’affaires Levan Machavariani of the Embassy of the Republic of Georgia to Sweden for his kind contribution in the organisation of this event and introduction to the seminar.
Merab Chukhua: From the 9th of April to the 9th of April – a brief glance
Tina Tskhovrebadze: Politics of Memory in the Process of Georgian Statehood Restoration
Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West
Welcome to next RUCARR seminar with Prof. Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University, where she will present and discuss her latest book Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West.
When: March 16, 15.15–17.00 (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom, Sign up here
In the book Is Russia fascist? Unraveling propaganda East West, Dr. Laruelle argues that the charge of “fascism” has become a strategic narrative of the current world order. Vladimir Putin’s regime has increasingly been accused of embracing fascism, supposedly evidenced by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its historical revisionism, attacks on liberal democratic values, and its support for far-right movements in Europe. But at the same time Russia has branded itself as the world’s preeminent antifascist power because of its sacrifices during the Second World War while it has also emphasized how opponents to the Soviet Union in Central and Eastern Europe collaborated with Nazi Germany. She argues that ultimately the current memory fight is a struggle to define the future of Europe, and it is the key question of Russia’s inclusion or exclusion that draws the line of divide.
Marlene Laruelle, Ph.D., is Director and Research Professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University. Dr. Laruelle is also Director of the Illiberalism Studies Program and a Co-Director of PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia). Dr. Laruelle received her Ph.D. in history at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures (INALCO) and her post-doctoral degree in political science at Sciences-Po in Paris. She has recently published Russian Nationalism. Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields (Routledge, 2018), and Memory Politics and the Russian Civil War. Reds versus Whites (Bloomsbury, with Margarita Karnysheva).
The Long Telegram 2.0: A Neo-Kennanite Approach to Russia
Dr. Peter Eltsov, Associate Professor of International Security Affairs at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University (Washington), presents his recent book The Long Telegram 2.0: A Neo-Kennanite Approach to Russia. When: April 12, 4-6 pm (zoom, CET)
In this book, Eltsov lays out an original argument for understanding Russia that goes deep into its history, starting with the tri-partite dictum “orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality,” formulated in 1833 by count Sergey Uvarov. Eltsov explores Uvarov’s triad in the context of modern Russia, adding five more traits: exceptionalism, expansionism, historical primordialism, worship of the military, and glorification of suffering.
The author argues that, as presently constituted, Russia cannot become a democracy, and, sooner than later, it will disintegrate, replicating the fate of the Soviet Union. The key reasons for these, according to the author, are: weak mechanisms for the transition of power, poorly developed institutions of the state, feeble economy and education, frail ideology, and, most importantly, the lack of a unified national identity. Following this assessment, Eltsov defines a strategy for dealing with Russia, based on a combination of offensive realism and realpolitik, recommending that the West copes with Russia in a more pragmatic manner. Eltsov also will connect his ideas to most recent events in Russia, such as the adoption of a new constitution and the relations with Belarus.
Peter Eltsov is an anthropologist and historian. He holds MA in South and South East Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and PhD in Anthropology from Harvard. Prior to the National Defense University, Eltsov held positions at Free University in Berlin, the Library of Congress, Harvard University, and Wellesley College. Eltsov has published both in academic and mainstream venues and provided numerous commentaries for the media. In his current research, he is particularly interested in how competing interpretations of the past affect modern politics, including conflict and war.
Welcome to the RUCARR zoom seminar on February 9, 15.15.
Dr. Tornike Metreveli (Postdoctoral Researcher on Christianity, Nationalism, and Populism in Lund University) will present his new book Orthodox Christianity and the Politics of Transition: Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia (Routledge, 2021).
Contact email@example.com for the zoom link.
The book Orthodox Christianity and the Politics of Transition: Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia discusses in detail how Orthodox Christianity was involved in and influenced political transition in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia after the collapse of communism. Based on original research, including extensive interviews with clergy and parishioners as well as historical, legal, and policy analysis, the book argues that the nature of the involvement of churches in post-communist politics depended on whether the interests of the church (for example, in education, the legal system or economic activity) were accommodated or threatened: if accommodated, churches confined themselves to the sacred domain; if threatened, they engaged in daily politics. If churches competed with each other for organizational interests, they evoked the support of nationalism while remaining within the religious domain.
Tornike Metreveli is a sociologist of religion focusing on Orthodox Christianity’s interaction with secular politics and nationalism. Before joining Lund, he had various research fellowships at the University of St. Gallen, Harvard, and London School of Economics. His recent book Orthodox Christianity and the Politics of Transition: Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia (Routledge, 2021) focuses on the comparative-historical church-state interactions, giving a grassroots and institutional account of counterintuitive secularization agendas, church involvement in public policies and revolutions, as well as interdenominational competition for the status of the national church.
I ett samarrangemang med Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (NUPI) bjuder RUCARR in till ett Zoom-seminarium 9 november på temat: ”Säkerhetspolitik i Sydkaukasien”.
Seminariet äger rum online genom Zoom. Förhandsregistrera dig här för att kunna ansluta. Diskussionen kommer att hållas på svenska. Seminariet stöds av Tidsskriftforeningen/Fritt Ord och utgår från en temasektion som tidskriften Nordisk Østforum publicerade i september 2020:
Sydkaukasien betraktas ofta som en krutdurk. Regionen innehåller tre stater (Armenien, Azerbajdzjan, Georgien) men också tre icke erkända ”stater” (Abchazien, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sydossetien) som förlitar sig på stöd utifrån. Bland de externa intressenterna har både Ryssland och EU liksom Turkiet en framträdande roll, vilket de senaste veckornas stridigheter i och kring Nagorno-Karabach illustrerar. Detta regionala säkerhetskomplex är ämnet för dagens seminarium. Paneldeltagare från FOI, Malmö universitet och Uppsala universitet kommer att dela med sig av sin kunskap om Kremls intressen i Kaukasien, EU:s påverkansmöjligheter samt den svåra geopolitiska balansgång som lokala aktörer står inför.
10:00-10:05 Moderator Christofer Berglund hälsar välkommen
10:05-10:35 Paneldeltagarnas presentationer
10:35-11:00 Diskussion och frågor från åhörarna
Jakob Hedenskog arbetar på enheten för säkerhetspolitik, Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (FOI). Han specialiserar sig på rysk utrikespolitik och länderna i Rysslands närområde.
Michel Anderlini är doktorand på Institutionen för globala politiska studier, Malmö universitet. Hans avhandlingsprojekt handlar om relationen mellan EU och Georgien.
Per Ekman är doktorand på Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Uppsala universitet. Hans avhandlingsprojekt handlar om utrikespolitiska strategier i Ukraina och Georgien.
Li Bennich-Björkman är Skytteansk professor i statskunskap, Uppsala universitet. Hon leder ett VR-finansierat forskningsprojekt om säkerhetspolitiska perceptioner i Sydkaukasien.
Prof. Stephen Jones
, Mount Holyoke College (US) will give a seminar on his current research on the First Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-21) and its significance to the history of European social democracy
RUCARR seminar (zoom), October 26, 3.15-5 pm (Swedish time)