W-i-P Talks of the 2014-15 series:

Home / W-i-P Talks of the 2014-15 series:




By Lika Tsuladze, Tbilisi State University and Center for Social Sciences




April 8, 2015
The paper discusses the Georgians’ online discourses of national identity in the context of Europeanisation focusing on two periods – initialling of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement in November 2013 and signing it in June 2014. Discussing how the Georgians’ aspiration to integrate with the EU is combined with their perception of Europeanisation as a threat to the national identity, the author explores how the national sentiment is expressed in the above discourses while performed for the local vs. international audiences.



Lia Tsuladze is Associate Professor of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Tbilisi State University. Her current research relates to the youth culture in modern Georgia focusing on the construction of youth identities in the context of glocalization. Lika directs the Applied Social Science Programme at CSS since 2012. In 2014 she became Research Director at CSS and joined the CSS Board.





By Mariam Chumburidze (IRC) and Tamar Zurabishvili (ICMPD)




April 1, 2015





Immigration is a relatively new phenomenon for Georgian reality: until recently the country was mainly exporting its labor force rather than attracting immigrants. In recent years, however, the situation has started to change, with more and more immigrants arriving to Georgia for both short-term and long-term residence purposes. This was in part due to the country’s liberal immigration policy, and also because of the creation of employment and educational niches. The recent humanitarian crises in Middle Eastern countries have also played a role in increasing number of immigrants to Georgia. For a Georgian population that lacked previous experience of dealing with immigrants from places that are sometimes quite distant, both in geographical and cultural terms, establishing effective associations with immigrants often proved to be problematic. At the same time, on the policy level, there are clear discrepancies between the existing immigration provisions and the necessity to accommodate the integration needs of immigrants.

The present research project thus focuses on these discrepancies between Georgians’ proclaimed myth of ‘hospitality’ and ‘openness’ and the emerging intolerant attitudes towards immigrants, and, at the same time, on the contrast between the existing Georgian immigration policy that does not account for existing needs of immigrant integration, and the increased need to facilitate effective integration of immigrants. The presentation is based on an analysis of immigration policy of Georgia, and on the analysis of a study of immigration in Georgia that surveyed 600 Tbilisi residents on their attitudes towards immigrants and collected 44 in-depth interviews with immigrants currently living in Georgia over the course of more than 9 months. The presentation argues that 1) despite the discourse of ‘hospitality’, a significant part of the Tbilisi population holds intolerant attitudes towards immigrants coming from culturally, religiously and geographically distant countries; and 2) the Georgian immigration policy fails to acknowledge the existing need to tackle the integration of immigrants and the necessity of implementing cultural diversity programs for the local population.




Mariam Chumburidze is a Good Governance and Innovations Program Coordinator at the Innovations and Reforms Center (IRC), has worked for the Ministry of Justice on migration, and holds a Masters degree in Finance and International Management.




Tamar Zurabishvili is a Researcher at ICMPD ENIGMMA Pilot Analytical Unit at the SCMI Secretariat in Georgia, has a PhD in Sociology, and is regularly involved in applied research on migration to and from Georgia.








By Chris Anderson, PhD Candidate in Political Science, University of Iowa




March 25, 2015




Chris will present data from a number of public opinion surveys conducted in Georgia over the last 20 years that investigate changes in the level of ethnocentrism in Georgian society and how this affects Georgian attitudes towards violence and the use of force.

Ethnocentrism is a term to describe the degree to which people identify with their in-group and dislike other out-groups. It has been shown to be an important predictor of support for the use of force in the United States. Ethnocentric individuals were not only more likely than non-ethnocentric individuals to support the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they were also more likely to support an aggressive foreign policy during the cold war. However, despite clear evidence from the American literature that ethnocentrism is positively related to support for the use of force, systematic work cross-nationally is lacking. This is unfortunate because it is far from clear that results from the American literature will hold cross-nationally. This is particularly true regarding support for the use of military force; the position of the United States as the world’s only superpower (and thus its ability to use military without serious repercussions) means that American attitudes towards the use of force are likely to be far from globally representative. Chris’s work, therefore, will expand upon the results from the United States in order to determine how ethnocentrism and use of force are related cross-nationally.












By Martine Brouillette, University of Poitiers, France




Date: March 18, 2015, at 18:30
Venue: Eurasia Partnership Foundation/CRRC, Kavsadze St. #3




This talk will present the preliminary findings of field research undertaken in Georgia for doctoral research on the European Union’s migration policy. By considering two countries of the neighborhood benefiting from similar “cooperation packages” from the EU, Moldova and Georgia, the project will examine the convergences and differences in the trajectory of migration management policy, the Mobility Partnership. Political instruments of softpower, the Mobility Partnerships are representative of the network governance designed by the EU to streamline the management of migration in third countries in keeping with European best practices. This project aims to provide an insight into the actual significance of these policies in the field of migration management, their capacity to lead to a common understanding on migration-related issues, and also to an understanding of how they can be instrumentalized by the partner third countries in advancing their own objectives vis-à-vis the EU.




Martine Brouillette is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Poitiers, France. She is associated with the MIGRINTER Research Institute, specializing in the study of International Migrations and Inter-ethnic relations.








By Jeremy Johnson, University of Michigan




Date: March 11, 2015, at 18:30




In the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviet Union undertook large-scale, multilingual literacy campaigns, which dramatically increased reported rates of literacy across the country. In the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, these campaigns initially involved preexisting literacy societies, educational organizations and international relief missions, each with particular understandings of what constituted literacy or literacies, along side newly formed Soviet organizations. Using archival material from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, this talk will examine the ways competing notions of literacy or literacies came to play out in the production of discourses of literate citizenship and they ways in which citizens performed literacy or illiteracy in specific contexts.

Jeremy Johnson is a PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan in the Interdepartmental Program in Anthropology and History. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, American Councils, and the Manoogian Simone Foundation.







By Bartłomiej Krzysztan, University of Wroclaw




Date: March 4 2015, at 18:30




Post-Soviet conflicts which led to creation of the de facto states on the South Caucasus and in Moldova prompted newly constructed political organisms to creation of state-driven politics of history and memory. Ambiguous status of separatist states of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria is forcing the need of building the new discourses necessary to create or recreate national and ethnic identity. For the conflicts in Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh this question along with collective memory play significant role in nowadays politics remaining the noticeable obstacle in processes of conflict resolution implementation. Presentation is giving the impression how the collective memory and reconstructed mythological state-driven discourse are influencing on the peace-building process. From anthropological fieldwork research is leading to comparative analysis on possible future outcomes.





Bartłomiej Krzysztan is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wroclaw. He is a graduate of Political Science at the University of Wrocław and Université Libre de Bruxellesraduate of Cultural Studies at the University of Wrocław, and an exchange researcher at Ilia State University in Tbilisi. His research interests are connected with the issues of postmodern socio-political thought, as well as cultural memory, identity, anthropology of everyday life and postcolonialism, with particular emphasis on the Post-Soviet sphere – the Caucasus and Central and Eastern Europe.







By Edward Boyle, Hokkaido University




Date: February 25, 2015, at 18:30




During the two centuries traditionally characterized as Japan’s ‘closed-country’ period, the ‘barbarian land’ at the northern end of the Japanese archipelago went from an ill-defined alien expanse of land to one that was uneasily demarcated between Japan and Russia, and in the subsequent Meiji period open to colonization. This process of delimitation continued into an era of open Imperial competition between Japan and Russia and remains contested today, forming the long-running ‘Northern Territories Issue’ that has poisoned Russo-Japanese relations into the present.

This presentation shall provide an overview of this process of knowing a territory and bordering the space of the state from a Japanese perspective. In so doing it shall connect this seemingly parochial northeast Asian history to larger questions regarding the naturalness of state borders and the manner through which knowledge of the contemporary world of nation-state territories came into being.






Edward Boyle is a PhD candidate at Hokkaido University in Japan, focusing on the intersection of state, space and territory and the manner in which this has developed into the modern notion of sovereignty. Due to the vagaries of marriage, he is currently resident in Tbilisi, Georgia.






defiant discourse under an oppressive regime and international solidarity: the case of portugal and “the three marias”


By Vera Peixoto, Utrecht University




Date: February 18, 2015, at 18:30




In 1972, three female authors that became known as “Three Marias” wrote a very polemic book called New Portuguese Letters, under the Portuguese fascist dictatorship (1933-1974). In a time when D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and – of course – Beauvoir’s The Second Sex were forbidden in Portugal, these three women dared speak of female desire, while defying all conventions from the myth of romantic love, traditional gender roles, marriage and motherhood, national symbols, heteronormative and patriarchal discourse, to the mere notions of literary genre and authorship. Upon publication, the book was censored and the authors faced a sentence of two years in jail. Thanks to the support of Simone de Beauvoir and Marguerite Duras, amongst others, the case soon became a global phenomenon – voted in 1973 as the “first international feminist protest action” – compelling women from all over the Western world to demonstrate for the freeing of the “Marias”. On the other hand, the book’s incredible popularity and universal appropriation had a downside: instrumentalized by the media and fetishized by mainstream discourse, it has been pigeonholed as a dated political manifesto (symbol of either second wave feminism or anti-fascism). But what these writers created was a timeless text, a literary masterpiece among the most innovative of the twentieth century, continuously inspiring new generations and lending itself to ever renewed readings.




Vera Peixoto did both her undergraduate studies in English and German Language and Literature and her MA in Iberian Studies at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Porto, in Portugal. She studied in Germany for 2 years and worked in the Netherlands for 5, teaching at Utrecht University. In 2013 she moved to Tbilisi, where she is the director of the Portuguese Language Center at Tbilisi State University. She is also doing her PhD on Gender Studies and 20th Century Portuguese Literature at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the book New Portuguese Letters (Barreno, Maria Isabel et. al. 1972) and its representations of the female body as a place of discipline and transgression, analyzed from a European feminist perspective, exploring notions of embodiment, corporeality, subjectivity, identity and desire.







By David Sichinava, Tbilisi State University, CRRC Georgia




Date: February 4, 2015, at 18:30
Yerevan and Tbilisi underwent a spectacular economic and sociocultural shift during the process of transition from a command to a market economy. The privatization of formerly state-owned housing stock and transferring building activities to the hands of private business have been the central features of this process. It is widely documented that socialist cities were characterized by significant residential segregation. Despite drastic changes in every aspect of life, at the first stage housing inequalities were not dramatically affected, contrary to expectations. However, currently the situation is changing and the gap is gradually widening. This presentation seeks to examine the main factors influencing housing inequalities in contemporary Yerevan and Tbilisi. It looks at the dynamics of the first two decades of the 21st century and evaluates the effect of socio-demographic and economic variables. The project is based on the pooled survey data from the Integrated Household Surveys of Armenia and Georgia, as well as from 10% sample data files from the Armenian national censuses from 2001 and 2011.

This talk is part of a larger study on the “Social contents of changing housing landscapes of the capital metropolises of Armenia and Georgia: Institutions, stakeholders, policies”, funded by the Academic Swiss Caucasus Network and undertaken by Yerevan State University and Tbilisi State University.




David Sichinava is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Human Geography, Tbilisi State University and in parallel, works with CRRC-Georgia. His research interests include geographic aspects of electoral behavior, urban geography, and internal displacement in Georgia.








By Vladimir Troyansky, Stanford University




Date: January 28, 2015, at 18:30




Integration of the North Caucasus region into the Russian Empire sparked mass emigration of Muslims into the Ottoman Empire. By the late nineteenth century, hundreds of thousands of North Caucasian Muslim refugees (muhajirs) resettled in the Ottoman state. A little-known part of the story is that of return migration to the North Caucasus. Some refugees undertook a return journey to the Russo-Ottoman frontier, and few of them succeeded in obtaining (or regaining) Russian subjecthood and a permission to resettle in the Caucasus. Return migration presented diplomatic and legal challenges, and a host of national security and humanitarian concerns for the two empires. This talk will focus on the attempts of return migration to Chechnya (1865-68) and Abkhazia (1878-80).




Vladimir Troyansky is a doctoral candidate in History at Stanford University. He received his undergraduate degree in Arabic and International Relations at the University of St Andrews and a Masters degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. In 2014/15, he is conducting fieldwork for his dissertation, with support from the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship.






By Lela Chakhaia, European University Institute




Date: January 21, 2015, at 18:30




The Georgian higher education (HE) system was fundamentally transformed in 2005-2006 with the introduction of the unified national admissions, thus eliminating corruption from the entrance process. The new meritocratic admissions mechanism was coupled with increased private costs for students and parents on the one hand, and halving the number of newly admitted students through a strict university accreditation procedure on the other. Using Caucasus Barometer data, this paper analyses how these changes affected the equality of access to HE. While overall access for those who went through the new admissions system decreased, not all social groups were uniformly affected. The analysis suggests that the probability to access to HE decreased more for the children of highly educated parents after the introduction of the new admissions system compared to the children of low-educated parents. No such difference was found for variables such as place of residence or respondents’ gender.




Lela Chakhaia is a doctoral researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Her research interests include educational inequalities, social stratification during post-Soviet transition, and the effect of educational policies on inequality. She holds degrees from Harvard University, Central European University and Tbilisi State University. In the past worked at the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, UNICEF, and Ilia State University.








By Alexi Gugushvili and Peter Kabachnik




Date: December 17, 2014, at 18:30




Recently there has been a renewed focus on analyzing post-Soviet memory, including the rekindling of debate on contemporary perspectives of Josef Stalin. Our talk intends to compare the perceptions of Stalin in contemporary Russia and contrast it with how people view the Soviet dictator throughout Georgia, his home country, including examining his hometown of Gori. We tentatively conclude that Stalin is alive in the minds of many, both in Georgia and Russia, though for different reasons. If in Georgia the admiration of Stalin is largely explained by socio-demographic and geospatial variables, in Russia it is more closely related to ideological, political, and geostrategic thinking.




Alexi Gugushvili is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, and an Affiliated Fellow at the Center for Social Sciences (CSS) in Tbilisi. His recent publications appear in Post-Soviet Affairs, Journal of Democracy, Studies of Transition States and Societies, and Europe-Asia Studies. His ongoing research projects include studies of national identity, collective memory, and the contemporary perceptions of Stalin in post-soviet space.




Peter Kabachnik is an Associate Professor of Geography in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs at the College of Staten Island-The City University of New York (CUNY). He has published on a variety of issues, including exploring discrimination against Gypsy and Traveler groups in England and the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia. Two of his current research projects examine the role of Stalin in contemporary Georgia and how personality cults operate as disciplinary mechanisms of social and spatial control.







By Dustin Gilbreath, CRRC-Georgia




Date: December 10, 2014, at 18:30




State capacity is a concept which has gained wide interest from political scientists in recent years. However, the concept continues to lack agreed upon definitions and indicators, with different authors providing different definitions more closely aligned to their chosen measurement(s) of state capacity. In part, this is due to the inherent multidimensionality of the concept, which is exemplified by the multiple sub-capacities which various authors have identified, including bureaucratic-administrative capacity, fiscal capacity, coercive capacity, and infrastructural capacity.


While capacity is important, without considering constraints on action, an understanding of state capacity is incomplete. In the Armenian and Georgian contexts opposition parties, the media, religious organizations, the non-governmental sector, and linkage and leverage with the West constrain state action. While a number of these factors have been measured in a variety of ways, many still lack clear indicators and/or have never been measured.


This talk will focus on the construct validity and practical applicability of state capacity and constraint indicators in Georgia and Armenia. Research on the subject is part of the larger research project, Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia being implemented by CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia. This project aims to compare and contrast how political actors manipulate institutions in Armenia and Georgia with the goal of staying in power. Ultimately, it seeks to identify and analyze (1) the political constraints faced by the autocratic ruling party and (2) the regime’s policy responses to voter preferences as shaped by these constraints.




Dustin Gilbreath is a research consultant at CRRC-Georgia. His research interests surround the relationship between citizens and the state from anthropological and political science perspectives.







By Salome Tsopurashvili, Tbilisi State University




Date: December 3, 2014, at 18:30




This project investigates and assesses the shifts in the image of women in Georgian Soviet silent films shot during 1921-1929. The main questions of the research are to study to what extent women’s screen images were emancipated during this era, how and on what terms do the images produced at the start and at the end of the period contrast, and what was their symbolic function in the existing ideological discourse. As the film industry was considered a powerful means for spreading Bolshevik ideology and instilling new ideals, the study of the given political context is crucial. Thus aim of the research is to explore how traditional roles were modified and acquired new meaning, and how these new meanings were combined with Georgian national identity.




Salome Tsopurashvili is a PhD student in the International PhD Program in Gender Studies at Tbilisi State University. She also teaches two courses: Feminist Literary Criticism and Gender in Visual Arts in the Gender Studies MA Program. Her research interests include feminist film theories, Soviet and silent films, visual arts, literary theories and criticism.







By Nana Macharashvili, Ekaterine Basilaia, Nodar Tangiashvili, Tbilisi State University




Date: November 26, 2014, at 18:30




The project aims to study what role non-governmental actors play in the agenda setting and formulation of policies in Georgia and uses 8 case studies for that purpose. The term “non-governmental actors”, as used in the study, includes on the one hand, interest groups, advocacy coalitions and individual NGOs (collectively called “groups”) and on the other hand – the media as a policy actor.


The study was conducted with the support of the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN).




Nana Macharashvili – Ph.D in Political Science, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Social and Political Studies, Ivane Javakhshvili Tbilisi State University. Nana Macharashvili is also head of the Master of Arts Program in Public Policy and Administration at TSU. Her research and professional interests are: Public Participation in Public policymaking; Comparative Public Policy; Agenda-setting and formulation; Public Program Failure; Public Administration in EU and Good Governance, Reforming Process in Georgia and former Soviet Area; Nana Macharashvili is actively involved in the integrated community-based projects the aim of which is the capacity building, participatory modeling, decentralization and local governance in Georgia.




Ekaterine Basilaia – Master of Science in Mass Communication (Edmund Muskie Fellow) from San Jose State University, California, United States; she works at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences as an invited lecturer, division of Journalism. At the same time she is a PhD student of the University of Antwerp and Tbilisi State University ( Cotuttele agreement). Her research interests are: Political Communication, media and society, audience studies and media effects.




Nodar Tangiashvili – Master of Arts in Public Policy (Chevening Scholar, British Council) King’s College London, London, UK; Master of Arts in International Relations & European Studies, Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary 2005-2006; He works in Public Sector as the Head of International Organizations and Legal Provision Department, Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Reintegration. His research and professional interests are: Public Policy and Governance of Complex Societies, State and Society in Developing Countries, Foreign Policy of the EU, European Governance, the European Neighborhood Policy and Georgia.








By Kathryn O’Neil Weber




Date: November 19, 2014, at 18:30




Kathryn O’Neil Weber is a doctoral candidate from Cornell University, working on the relationship between social inequality and human-animal interactions in the transition between the Kura-Araxes and Early Kurgan cultures. She received a masters degree from the University of Chicago in 2010, as well as from Cornell University in 2014. She was born and raised in Chicago and resides in Ithaca, NY when she is not in Tbilisi.







By Gavin Slade and Vakhtang Kekoshvili




Date: November 12, 2014, at 18:30




In post-Soviet countries, highly evolved prison subcultures exist. These subcultures frame social relations between prisoners and with staff, create rules and norms of behaviour and mechanisms for endowing informal authority, resolving disputes, and dividing labour and personal space. In many countries of the post-Soviet region, prison reform takes aim at this subculture. Reforms aim to end the architectural legacies of the Soviet camp system, its communal living and prisoner self-governance, in favour of western style cellular prisons. In Georgia, this reform in the years 2004-2012 has been strongly linked to anti-organized crime policy. Infamously, the reform in Georgia collapsed into scandal in September 2012 when videos were released from new and reformed prisons showing the torture and abuse of prisoners by staff. This talk examines prison life and the bases for violence in a system in extreme transition. It asks basic questions about how prisoners establish trust, signal identity, spread reputation and resolve conflicts at a time when established, prior informal mechanisms are in flux. These questions are then linked to the issue of growing violence in the penal system. The talk is based on a comparative analysis of interview data with ex prisoners who entered the Georgian prison system at different points in the last twenty years. This is supplemented by data from two surveys of prisoners in Georgia.




Gavin Slade is a research fellow at the Centre for Area Studies at the Freie Universitat, Berlin.




Vakhtang Kekoshvili is a doctoral candidate and anthropologist at Ilia State University, Tbilisi.









By Maia Mestvirishvili, Tinatin Zurabishvili, Tamar Iakobidze, Natia Mestvirishvili




Date: November 5, 2014, at 18:30




Within the framework of a research project funded by the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI), a group of researchers explored the social, cultural and psychological factors linked to homophobia among Tbilisi adults. The study is based on data from a CRRC survey on the events of May 17th, 2013 and shows that gender, education and liberal attitudes are significantly related to homophobia, while religion and age are not. Moreover, psychological variables like perceived cause of homosexuality and personal contact with homosexuals mediate these relationships. Policy recommendations derived from this study will be also presented.




Maia Mestvirishvili is Associate Professor of Psychology at Tbilisi State University. Her primary research area is social psychology, with particular focus on social identities, functions of the self and social stigma in minority groups. She received her post-doctoral training at the School of Public Health of Columbia University, after which she was a served as a returning scholar in the Academic Fellowship Program (OSGF). Maia is the author of several scientific articles and conference papers.




Tinatin Zurabishvili is research director at CRRC Georgia. Previously, she has taught various courses in sociology in Telavi State University, the Center for Social Sciences at Tbilisi State University and the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs.




Tamar Iakobidze is an analyst at the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). She also teaches public policy and political ideologies at the International Black Sea University (IBSU). Tamar holds an MSc in Policy Studies from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Political Science from Iv.Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.




Natia Mestvirishvili is regional research and outreach coordinator at CRRC. After graduating Tbilisi State University, faculty of Psychology, she earned an M.Sc. in Social Research from the University of Edinburgh. Since 2012 Natia is an invited lecturer at Tbilisi State University, where she teaches several courses in research methods and psychology.









By Kornely Kakachıa, Levan Kakhishvili, Salome Minesashvili, Tbilisi State University




Date: October 29, 2014, at 18:30




The power shift after the 2012 parliamentary elections in Georgia was accompanied by a rapprochement towards Russia, known as the “normalization” policy. The previous tense rhetoric on Russia was replaced by a relatively softened discourse, subsequently reflected in such behaviour as initiating talks and restoring trade relations. Building on the constructivist insights, this project explores this discursive and behavioral conversion in Georgia’s foreign policy by utilizing an interpretative approach. By combining perception and discursive theories, the project proposes a framework for interpreting policy shifts in an unchanged environment through leadership perceptions. Furthermore, the project argues that the “normalization” policy and accompanying discursive change should not merely be associated with a change in power relations, but also with different perceptions that characterize the new leadership. The project shows the advantage of this approach, firstly by investigating the previous and current government members’ perceptions based on data from twenty in-depth interviews conducted with key political figures in Georgia; secondly through conducting discourse analysis; and thirdly by examining actors’ positions and behaviour through a case study of the recent events in Ukraine.




Kornely Kakachia is Full Professor at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, and has held visiting appointments at the John. F. Kennedy School of government, Harvard University and the Harriman Institute at Columbia University in New York. He earned his PhD in Political Science at Tbilisi State University. He is a member of the International Studies Association (ISA) and the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia). Professor Kakachia is the Director and founder of the Georgian Institute of Politics.




Levan Kakhishvili is a Junior Researcher for the research projects funded by the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net and Norwegian Institute for International Affairs and implemented by Tbilisi State University. Levan holds an MSc in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Transformation in South Caucasus from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. As a researcher Levan cooperates with Caucasian House, the Georgian Institute of Politics, and the Center for Post-Soviet Studies. His research interests include the security dimension of Georgian-Russian relations, Georgian and Russian foreign policies, political transition in the former communist space, minority issues and ethnicity.





Salome Minesashvili is a PhD student in Political Science at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, and her thesis focuses on foreign policy and national identity. She holds a Masters degrees in “Transformation in the South Caucasus” from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and in “International Political Theory” from the University of Edinburgh. Salome is also involved in several local and regional research projects, covering such topics as religious soft power, Georgian-Russian relations, and the role of ideas and identity in Georgia’s foreign policy. Additionally, since September 2013 Salome has been cooperating with the Georgian Institute of Politics.








By Prof. Wendy Smith, California State University, San Bernardino and Visiting Fulbright Professor




Date: October 22, 2014, at 18:30




The purpose of this study was to uncover the subtle displays of identity which emerge when groups in macro-conflict interact in a structured setting. We use the tool of Conversational Analysis (CA) to examine a videotaped group session of Jews and Palestinians there to discuss “the conflict” in order to come to some sort of mutual understanding. The central question asked is how participants collaborate to achieve theirrespective social identities. Using CA we examine the interaction in terms of its microfine features, and show that non-normative gaps in talk (aka ‘silence’) seem to be strategically placed in the unfolding of the discourse. We show that silence is actually used to address and reconstruct the true power asymmetry. Our microanalysis reveals that the development of the argument and the corresponding gaps in talk are intricately bound up with the construction of social roles and the orientation of participants to each other. Finally we show how the two groups, in arguing their respective positions, work to redress existing power asymmetries.


The data come from a course given at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which both Jews and Palestinians were enrolled, by choice. These students would also spend the weekends with each other at a site called “Neveh Shalom,” where Jews, Palestinians, and Druze all live together. On these weekends they participated in activities the goal of which was to bring the groups together. In the course, they would discuss the weekends as well as the conflict. This course was given in the semester prior to the outbreak of the second Entifada, in 2000.




Wendy B. Smith is Professor of English at California State University, San Bernardino. A linguist, she received her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from UCLA in 1990. Her areas of specialization are language and identity, discourse and grammar, and interactional sociolinguistics. She has also done ethnographic fieldwork in Jerusalem on the function of narrative in Ladino, a dying language spoken by Sephardic Jews. She has published in Journal of Pragmatics, Studies in Language, edited volumes, and many other journals. She is currently working on a volume with her colleague, Caroline Vickers, on Pragmatics and Grammar.







By Paul Crego, U.S. Library of Congress




Date: October 15, 2014, at 18:30




The Life of the Life of St. Nino: [Dr] Paul Crego will talk about his book project concerning St. Nino. He will discuss the format of three volumes: 1. original texts in Georgian and other languages; ancient and modern; 2. English translation of those texts not already in English; 3. Commentary, with special attention to various issues that arise in the telling and re-telling of St. Nino’s story, especially in terms of what is left in and what is left out.








By Koba Turmanidze, CRRC Georgia




Date: October 8, 2014, at 18:30
In 2011 and 2012, as part of the Judicial Independence and Legal Empowerment Project (JILEP), CRRC Georgia conducted research on the attitudes of the general public, legal professionals and business leaders to the judicial system in Georgia. Since that time, there have been major political upheavals in the country. A new government came to power in October 2012, vowing to reform what was largely seen as a politically dependent judiciary. Revelations of torture in the prison system, elite level corruption and widespread illegal police surveillance have come to light since the original reports were compiled.


Data from 2011 showed the Georgian public maintained distrust towards their judiciary. In 2014, a follow-up study was conducted to compare the findings of the reports in 2011 and 2012 with research conducted in 2014. Just as in 2011 and 2012, as well as assessing the attitudes of the general public, including those who have been to court, the report will analyze the opinions of legal professionals to legal institutions and representatives of business to the resolution of business disputes.


The comparison revealed that since 2011, there have been improvements in the perceptions of the Georgian adults about the judiciary in Georgia and these improvements were partly associated with the change of the government in October 2012. However, trust toward courts, judges and prosecutors still remained relatively low. Koba Turmanidze will tell about the results of 2014 research and make comparisons with the 2011-2012 baseline studies.




Koba Tumranidze has been working for CRRC-Georgia since 2007. He earned an MPA from the American University (Washington, DC) and a M.A. in Political Science from Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). He also holds a diploma in history from Tbilisi State University. Currently Koba is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Politics at Central European University.








By Hans Gutbrod, Transparify.org




Date: October 1, 2014, at 18:30




Why does transparency matter in policy research and policy advocacy? What can be done, and what are key lessons from Transparify’s recent campaign? How transparent are the Georgian NGOs that are active in the field of governance and accountability, and what could be done to improve? What are the solutions to the problem, and why are they surprisingly simple? In his talk, Hans will describe the ongoing work to engage 150+ policy research organizations/think tanks from around the world to become more transparent and discuss how the campaign is now beginning to focus on Georgia.




Hans Gutbrod wants to improve the quality and integrity of policy research and started Transparify (www.transparify.org) together with several Georgians and Georgia-connected internationals (see some media coverage here: http://nyti.ms/QdBYk2). Hans previously worked as the Regional Director of CRRC, and has been teaching, researching, cycling and generally spending time outdoors in the Caucasus for more than ten years. Hans holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.





polling for democracy in kaspi: an experiment on quantitative information and citizen behavior



By Aaron Erlich, University of Washington




Date: September 24, 2014, at 18:30




In recent elections, the presentation of quantitative information in Georgia has been highly polarized. Such scandal is prevalent across democracies, particularly in developing countries. This talk introduces my larger project on the politics of quantitative public opinion data in developing democracies. Using the example of the 2014 Kaspi municipal elections, I will discuss many of the issues with using polls as prediction of election outcomes. I will then discuss a new method I have developed for quantifying uncertainty among an electorate, discuss some of its benefits, and present preliminary results from an experiment on whether monetary incentivization matters for this method.




Aaron Erlich, a former CRRC employee, has worked in various areas of survey design and analysis in a wide variety of countries in Africa and the Former Soviet Union. He is a founding member of www.poldevsvy.org , a listserv and network of scholars innovating in surveys in developing countries. Aaron is a current IREX fellow and is completing his dissertation in Political Science at the University of Washington.








By Timothy Blauvelt, American Councils for International Education and Ilia State University.




Date: September 17, 2014, at 18:30




Applying approaches developed in studies of Nazi perpetrators, this paper is part of a larger project exploring the Stalinist terror at the micro-level by examining the cases of mid-level NKVD officials. The extensive files in the former Georgian KGB archive of the trials of NKVD officials that took place in Tbilisi after the 20th Party Congress in 1956 provide an opportunity to examine the careers, motivations and outlooks of individual officials, in effect “to change the perspective of research and create a differentiated image of the Soviet secret policeman.” The vast amount of testimony, commentary, appeals and personal statements found in these files show the relationship of the individual and the state machine, the interplay of disposition and situation, of ideology and rationality, and the ways in which these aspects influence and mutually reinforce one another, and to explore the “ecosystem of violence,” or the context in which “ordinary men” became perpetrators, the combination of context, culture and ideology in the initiation and expansion of violence, and the way in which individual motivations may have shaped actions.




Timothy Blauvelt is Country Director in Georgia for American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS and Associate Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has published numerous articles on the political history of the former USSR, and on clientelism, nationality policy, and ethnic mobilization in the post-Soviet region.








By Jo Laycock, Sheffield Hallam University




Date: July 30, 2014, at 18:15




This presentation introduces an ongoing project which addresses responses to mass population displacement in Transcaucasia in the aftermath of war and genocide through a transnational lens. It is based on new research in a range of local and international archives, including the National Archive of Armenia, the League of Nations Archive and the Archives of the Save the Children Society. The project examines the entwined local and international attempts to manage the post-war displacement crises and their complex relationships to the construction of new Soviet states in the region.

By autumn 1921 a number of international humanitarian organisations operated in Transcaucasia, providing food, shelter and medical care for those displaced during and in the aftermath of the war. Over the course of the 1920s their work evolved from providing emergency food and shelter for refugees to the development of educational provision, medical training and public health initiatives and vocational training. In this paper I focus on the work of one of the smaller agencies at work in the region, the British ‘Lord Mayor’s Fund for Armenian Refugees’, examining the visions, priorities and activities of this organisation and the complex ways in which they intersected with the agenda of the Soviet authorities. Addressing these issues provides an opportunity to develop new perspectives on the history of early Soviet Armenia and an opportunity to reconsider the place of the inter-war Soviet Union in existing narratives of the history of humanitarianism.




Jo Laycock is Senior Lecturer in History at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. Her research addresses history of population displacement and humanitarianism, migration and diaspora, focusing on modern Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. Her first monograph, Imagining Armenia, Orientalism, Ambiguity and Intervention was published by Manchester University Press in 2009 and was based on research carried out for her PhD at the University of Manchester. Since then she has taught and researched at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Glasgow University and Manchester University. Her current research addresses the relief and resettlement of refugees in Soviet Armenia in the 1920s and the international response to the Armenian earthquake of 1988.








By Anna Dolidze, University of Western Ontario




Date: July 23, 2014, at 18:15




“Democratic transitional justice is almost as old as democracy itself,” points out Jon Elster. Elster distinguishes between exogenous and endogenous transitional justice, “the process of transitional justice may be either initiated by the new regime or carried out under the supervision of foreign power.” The distinction between exogenous and endogenous transitional justice processes is now widely accepted in the transitional justice scholarship. This article has two objectives. First, it suggests that the move beyond the binary of endogenous and exogenous transitions is timely. The nuances of the relationship between external and endogenous actors are better captured as a continuum. At one end of the continuum one would place exogenous transitions, where it is the international actors that are primarily responsible for and involved in all major decisions in relation to transitional justice, including but not limited to prosecution. At the other end of the continuum would feature the processes of endogenous transitional justice, where domestic actors take major policy decisions. Many other primarily non-binding forms through which international actors play a role in endogenously originated transitions would be placed along the continuum depending upon the degree of the external actors’ participation.


Second, I support this argument by focusing on the international governance of domestically originated transitional justice processes. International organizations govern transitional justice process implemented by domestic actors through a variety of legally non-binding means, including statements and reports. By focusing on the case of EU governance of transitional justice in Georgia, this article enriches the perspectives with which transitional justice scholars analyze the activities of external actors.




Anna Dolidze is a lawyer from the Republic of Georgia and a sought-after speaker and writer on law and human rights in Caucasus and Central Eurasia. In 2004–2006 Dolidze was the President of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, the leading human rights organization in Georgia. Dolidze targeted legal reform, advocated for government transparency, accountability, and criminal justice reform. Dolidze represented in court the victims of human rights abuses, including journalist Irakli Imnaishvili, “rebel judges” (four Justices of the Supreme Court that refused to resign under pressure), Anna Dolidze was a leader of the social movement to punish murderers of Sandro Girgvliani. She served on boards of a number of important organizations in Georgia, such as the Georgia Media Council, the Stakeholders Committee of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Georgia, the Human Rights Monitoring Council of the Penitentiary and Detention Places, and the National Commission against Trafficking in Persons.


In 2013 Dolidze received a Doctorate in Law from Cornell University and was appointed Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Western Ontario.








By Kathryn O’Neil Weber, Cornell University and ARISC Fellow




Date: July 16, 2014, at 18:15




Kathryn O’Neil Weber is a doctoral candidate from Cornell University, working on the relationship between social inequality and human-animal interactions in the transition between the Kura-Araxes and Early Kurgan cultures. She received a masters degree from the University of Chicago in 2010, as well as from Cornell University in 2014. She was born and raised in Chicago and resides in Ithaca, NY when she is not in Tbilisi.








By Ketevan Chkheidze, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University




Date: July 9, 2014, at 18:15
Ketevan Chkheidze holds a Master’s degree in Gender Studies form Central European University, Budapest and is a PhD Candidate at the International PhD Program in Gender Studies at Tbilisi State University. Her research interests are women and politics, gender and development, women and citizenship and gender and democracy. Ms. Chkheidze is proficient in gender analysis, gender mainstreaming, gender assessment, and gender policy analysis, research on women’s rights and gender issues, gender mainstreaming and project management. She has worked with various local NGOs and has consultancy experience to a number of international organizations on gender issues. Ketevan has a region-wide experience and deep understanding of women’s rights and gender issues and has participated in different international conferences. Currently Ketevan is a Gender Specialist Consultant for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for the Asian Development Bank.








By Irina Levin, New York University and CAORC Fellow




Date: July 2, 2014, at 18:15




The focus of Ms. Levin’s current project, which also encompasses field sites in Turkey and Azerbaijan, is issues of law, citizenship, and property in the daily lives of Ahiska Turks and Meskhetians. Deported from southwestern Georgia in 1944, this population has had a dedicated return movement since the 1950s. Today, this movement engages with local, national, and international human rights legal regimes in its efforts to give deportees and their descendants a way home. What do these efforts mean for regular Ahiska Turks and Meskhetians? Further, what do the everyday legal struggles of these regular people mean for the return movement? Broadly put, the aim of this study is to augment our understanding of long-term adaptation and return processes among a forcibly displaced population.


In this talk, Ms. Levin looks to reflect on some key ethnographic moments from her fieldwork so far in the context of current frameworks in legal anthropology and citizenship studies, as well as insights from the anthropology of post-socialism. She welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions.





Irina Levin is a doctoral candidate in New York University’s Department of Anthropology. She received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MA from New York University. She has been a recipient of several prestigious fellowships, including the SSRC Eurasia Pre-Dissertation Grant and the Fulbright IIE Research Grant, and has conducted fieldwork in Georgia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. She is currently conducting her dissertation fieldwork in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Georgia, supported by grants from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).








By Emily Knowles, University of Edinburgh




Date: June 18, 2014, at 18:15
This presentation will showcase some of the insights that have come out of the research so far and will explain preliminary attempts to distil primary research into a series of best and worst case scenarios against which the current resolution process will be measured, providing a comprehensive evaluation of the key sticking points and areas of constructive engagement to inform peace academics and policymakers alike. Advances such as the discursive rejection of a military resolution to the disputes made by the Georgian government will be contrasted with a continued impasse surrounding the signature of a non-aggression pact, providing detailed analysis of the complexities surrounding a region where not only local but also international actors often have a role to play in the evolving security environment.


Emily Knowles is a recent graduate from the University of Edinburgh’s Master in European and International Politics programme, and has spent the last couple of months travelling around Georgia to collect interview material into perceptions of the ongoing territorial disputes from Georgian government and de facto authorities, members of international organisations active in and around the disputed regions, and local NGOs and academics on all sides of the contested borders. This research has been conducted under the auspices of the International Fellowship programme at the Caucasus Research Resources Centre Georgia and the associate researcher programme at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. Previously, Emily has worked for the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Edinburgh City Council’s International Affairs Department, Nexos Voluntarios and EDF’s Strategy and International Relations Department, conducting research into international strategy and writing reports on the changing geopolitics of international diplomacy, civil conflict and energy security.








By Eteri Tsintsadze-Maass, Notre Dame University




Date: June 11, 2014 at 18:15




Due to their great resources, great powers should be able to frame issues and set the tone for their relationships with their weak neighbors, but if this is so, then how can we explain the diversity in their treatments ranging from military interventions to mutual cooperation? This research considers asymmetric relationships as two-sided process and examines the relative importance of nationalism in dictating the form of asymmetric power relationships. Its main hypothesis is that the sources of nationalism in weak states have a significant effect on the dynamics of asymmetric power relations. Through case studies involving Russian relations with its post-Soviet neighbors, the paper traces the roles of several sources of nationalism in determining the course of neighborly (or not so neighborly) relations.







By Richard W. Maass, Cornell University




Date: June 4, 2014 at 18:15




Richard W. Maass is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. Starting in Fall 2014, he will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Evansville (in Indiana). He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame in 2013. His book manuscript explains why states sometimes decline even profitable opportunities for annexation. He has published research in such journals as International Security, Diplomatic History, and Terrorism and Political Violence, and regularly teaches courses on International Relations, International Security, US Foreign Policy, and Terrorism.







By Philippe Rudaz, University of Fribourg, Project Coordinator at Academic Swiss Caucasus Net




Date: May 28, 2014 at 18:15




The purpose of the ongoing study to be presented is to capture the emergence and evolution of entrepreneurship in Georgia through a longitudinal research framework and to make several observations over a particular period of time. Within the scope of the study, the first round interviewed 600 entrepreneurs. Self-employed (350), micro and small enterprises (250) were questioned, in three different regions of Georgia (including the capital Tbilisi). The second round of interviews took place in March 2014.
In this presentation l will briefly outline the structure of the Georgian private sector, thus explaining the reasons why such a study is needed. I will then briefly discuss the concept of entrepreneurship chosen to build the questionnaire. Finally, the results of the two rounds of interview will be presented.




Philippe Rudaz works as a research project coordinator for the Academic Swiss Caucasus Network at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He established and now coordinates a project whose goal is to track the emergence of entrepreneurship in Georgia. After field research on informal markets in Gabon for his Master in Political Science, at University of Lausanne, Mr. Rudaz studied International Political Economy at the London School of Economics. He then worked in St-Petersburg and Moscow for a Swiss consultant in financial structured products and in the Balkans for a brokerage firm. The gap between complex financial practices and products on the one hand and Soviet inherited formal and informal institutions inspired his PhD thesis on the institutional linkages between finance and the real economy. His research interest are: Institutional Economics, Financial Economics, Economic Anthropology, Post Soviet Countries; Caucasus and Central Asia. He also has field research experiences in Gabon, Russia, Georgia.







By Chase Stoudenmire, University of Arkansas and NSEP Boren Fellow




Date: May 21, 2014 at 18:15




This paper chronicles the establishment of new and re-purposing of preexisting U.S. state-sponsored educational exchange programs with the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Focusing on Georgia, this study extends the story of American state-sponsored exchange programs to the present day, probing which (if any) of the prevailing narratives of Cold War exchange and American cultural expansion are supported by events following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Drawing from interviews with exchange alumni, U.S. and Georgian government officials, NGO managers, and archives from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, this study considers questions of purpose, impact and perception in Georgia, the “poster child” of American exchange in the post-Soviet space. As a recent history, this project also engages questions of historical methodology, interrogating the potential for interdisciplinary techniques and alternative conceptions of historical distance to extend the discipline’s boundaries.




Chase Stoudenmire, an NSEP Boren Fellow, is a graduate student in the Department of History in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Stoudenmire is an Alumni Ambassador for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program and previously served as a 2010-2011 Fulbright ETA in Kutaisi, Georgia. Stoudenmire combines his interests in history and higher education, studying U.S. public and cultural diplomacy during the Cold War with an emphasis on educational exchange. Stoudenmire holds a master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Arkansas, a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of South Carolina, and a Cambridge CELTA. Chase maintains a topical blog at chasestoudenmire.us.








By Jeffrey Renz, University of Montana




Date: May 14, 2014 at 18:30




Born in Piscataway, New Jersey, Prof. Renz received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Montana in 1971 and 1979. From 1971 to 1975 he served in the United States Army, where he completed the Army’s Airborne and Ranger Schools and commanded a combat infantry company. Prof. Renz has participated in over 100 appellate cases as either lead or cocounsel.He is also a successful trial lawyer. In 2006, Prof. Renz was co-director of the Montana Pardon Project, which successfully obtained posthumous pardons for 78 men and women convicted of sedition during World War I. Prof. Renz has taught in the clinical program at the University of Montana School of Law since 1993. His emphasis is in the area of civil rights, criminal law and procedure, and constitutional law. He has also taught at Kutaisi State University and the Tbilisi Institute of Asia and Africa in the Republic of Georgia and at Osh State University in the Kyrgyz Republic. Prof. Renz was first listed in Who’s Who in American Law in 1990. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. He is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar. He is currently a Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Georgia. Prof. Renz is admitted to practice in Montana (1979), Illinois (1979), and the United States Supreme Court (1988).








By Inga Popovaite, Central European University




Date: May 7, 2014 at 18:15




To this day, the questions surrounding ethnic Georgian Muslim identity, both in the international and local scholarly literature, have been discussed from a masculine perspective. Thus I address the less visible part of Georgian Muslim society and analyze how Georgian Muslim women in Adjara manage to be “proper” Georgians and “proper” Muslims at the same time, and examine why they keep their faith rather than following the trend towards conversion to Christianity. Based on Tajfel and Brubaker’s theories on identity, as well as feminist approaches to nation and religion, I hypothesize that Georgian Muslim women in Adjara experience a discrepancy between the Muslim and Georgian aspects of their identity due to reasons connected to biological and cultural reproduction and group boundary maintenance. And the narrative of keeping the Islamic faith is connected to the respondents’ perceived role as protectors of the cultural group boundaries as well as protectors of the Islamic religious and cultural values.

The talk will be based on preliminary analysis of qualitative data collected during intensive field research in Adjara (Batumi and Khulo) and will shed light on everyday life and identity negotiation of Georgian Muslim women.




Inga Popovaite has been living in Georgia on-and-off since January 2010. She is currently an MA student in the Department of Nationalism Studies in the Central European University, Budapest. Inga holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Klaipeda (Lithuania) and analyses the politics of Eastern Europe and Caucasus in the Lithuanian media. She also is a part of a research team and does online ethnography for a joint Edgeryders and UNDP project “Spot the Future”. Her academic interests include Georgian nation-state building, the interaction of politics and religion in a formally secular state, minority protection, ethnically framed conflicts, identity policies and politics more generally.







By Matthew Light, University of Toronto




Date: April 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm.




Contemporary Georgia features relatively lenient policies on possession of handguns. Citizens may obtain a license to keep such weapons at home for self-defense, subject to rules on safe storage and periodic inspection of privately owned handguns. This policy outcome is surprising for several reasons. Georgian policy strongly diverges from the highly restrictive policies on gun ownership that were in force during the Soviet period, and which persist to this day in neighboring post-Soviet states. Moreover, given that post-Soviet Georgia went through a long period of political and social turmoil in which gun violence was rampant, one might have expected more stringent policies to be enacted. I review several possible explanations for Georgia’s unusual gun policy trajectory, ideological (the libertarian attitudes of Georgian legislators in the former ruling party), pragmatic (the difficulty of disarming the population), and social-cultural (public and elite assumptions about the role of weapons in society and their potential threat to public order).



Matthew Light is Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Toronto. He studies migration control, policing and criminal justice, primarily in the post-Soviet region.








By Kendra Dias, Central European University




Date: April 23, 2014 at 18:15




This research investigates the “everyday” aspects of language choice in multilingual Dagestan in order to evaluate the importance of ethnicity and identity related motivations. Specifically, by looking at Avars in their titular rural spaces and the urban capital, the thesis assesses the changes in the traditional multilingualism of Dagestan as a result of mandatory bilingualism as subjects of the Russian Federation. While not strictly refuting the importance of rational choice theory, the work will consider with more complexity the reasons why, although Dagestani languages are endangered, speakers do not interpret such endangerment or fear linguistic extinction in the globalizing world.




Kendra Dias holds a BA in Eurasian Studies from Smith College and is currently finishing a Master’s Degree in Nationalism Studies at CEU. She has an upcoming publication in the book project Caucasus Knot and will be participating in several upcoming conferences including a presentation on the cultural anthropology of food in the Caucasus at ELTE in Budapest, Hungary. Kendra will begin as Assistant Professor at the Universidad de la Amazonia in Florencia, Colombia in September.









By Emily Tamkin, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University




Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 6:15 PM




This research is an examination of the intent and identity of dissident movements in the late Soviet Period (from 1956 to perestroika). Specifically, through a comparative analysis of the Russian and Georgian cases, this research looks at how dissidents, against the background of this particular time and space, decided to make their movements “closed”—that is, to focus on fostering the networks within the movement as well as preserving the individuality and integrity of those who considered themselves to be a part of it—or “open”—to try to reach the masses and garner widespread involvement.




Emily Tamkin is an M.Phil candidate in the Russian and East European Studies programme at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She holds a B.A. with honors in Russian Literature and Culture from Columbia College, Columbia University and conducted research on Soviet dissidence in the Forschungsstelle Osteuropa of Universität Bremen in Bremen, Germany on a Fulbright grant in the 2012-2013 academic year. She hails from New York.









By David Sitchinava and Irakli Gunia, Tbilisi State University




Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 6:15 PM




The project Georgica (http://georgica.tsu.edu.ge/) was launched with the help of the faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Tbilisi State University. The online database is intended for collecting academic materials concerning Georgia and has the following objectives: Building a rich database for anyone interested in order to help them to better understand Georgia’s issues, Promoting interest and developing expertise by providing a consistent store of necessary materials, Offering early career researchers the opportunity to publish papers, engage with audiences of colleagues and build up their academic profile.With the idea of creating an open access academic space, Georgica will be unique in its character. The focus on academic materials helps it to avoid redundancy with web-sites committed to translating international media articles about Georgia. Georgica also offers academics/scholars, PhD students, young professionals/practitioners the opportunity to have their own regular blog, preferably writing in areas in which they have direct research insights.




Irakli Gunia is a second-year graduate student at the Tbilisi State University MA program Diplomacy and International Relations. He holds BA in International Relations from TSU. His professional interests are ideas and identities in international relations, especially in the post-Soviet space.




David Sitchinava is a fourth-year doctoral student at the department of Human Geography, faculty of Social and Political Sciences of TSU. He earned MA in Human Geography from Tbilisi State University. David’s research interests include geographic aspects of electoral behaviour, urban geography, and internal displacement in Georgia. He taught research methods classes at Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA) and also works at CRRC Georgia as database analyst.









By George Mchedlishvili, University of Georgia and 2013 Robert Bosch Fellow, Chatham House




Date: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 6:15 PM




The paper explores the dynamics of the perception of the West in the societies of the South Caucasus states. It will study how the notion of the West has transformed from a homogeneous entity to a more nuanced grouping in the minds of the people, and what factors – domestic, regional and international – conditioned these transformations. The study will particularly emphasize the western engagement since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the policies of the major western actors (US, EU, NATO) and their efficiency in the areas of economy, security and democratization. The presentation will also dwell on the issues of European identity in the three nations. The paper will also study the challenges on the way to modernization, economic transformation and westernization within the South Caucasus states and the principal reasons of these challenges. The role of the Russian Federation and the ways the policies of Moscow shape the perception of the West in the three republics will be studied.




George Mchedlishvili is an Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Political Science, University of Georgia since Fall 2011. His main field of research is the post-Soviet transition in the South Caucasus. He was a 2013 Robert Bosch Fellow at the Chatham House. In 2008-2012 George also read a number of courses on the South Caucasus Region and Foreign Policy at the TSU’s Center for Social Sciences. His prior employment/background includes Policy Planning Division (2006-2008) and Department of the Americas (2005-2006) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as 6-monthly fellowship at the World Security Instutute, DC, and Master of Education (2001), Harvard Graduate School of Education.








By Erin Koch, University of Kentucky




Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 6:15 PM




This talk focuses on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in post-Soviet Georgia to examine lived experiences with protracted displacement and marginalization. It draws on ethnographic research conducted in the summers of 2010 and 2011 with IDPs living in western Georgia who were displaced by civil war between Georgia and Abkhazia in 1993 and who have been living in limbo since then.The talk focuses on their efforts to navigate changing state strategies for housing relocation and to secure their new “rights” to durable housing, and argues that the lives of IDPs living in protracted displacement in Georgia are shaped by a form of sanctioned abandonment that cements their structural vulnerability, making it virtually impossible for the to fulfill the neoliberal expectations of the government and NGOs in achieving social mobility.




Erin Koch is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Her cultural and medical anthropology research in Georgia focuses on infectious disease, the global health industry, and social-structural vulnerability among disenfranchised populations.








By Helena Szczodry, Jagiellonian University




Date: Wednesday, 5 March 2014




The experience of women in Poland and Georgia shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the process of democratization are not necessarily connected with the developments in the field of gender equality and gender policies. The right wing (in Poland) and nationalist (in Georgia) backlash combined with the neoliberal discourse led to the limitation of some of women’s rights as well as to the intensification of traditional discourse, in which women are basically seen as mothers and housewives. As a result, women found themselves in a schizophrenic position between the symbolic return to the traditional role of woman and present challenges and difficulties which are related to the social, political and economic transformation.At the same time, in neither country did this situation mobilize women to become actively engaged in activities focused on their community of interests in a broader sense. Despite the increasing number of women’s organizations in Poland and Georgia, the social understanding of gender equality is often perceived in a negative, or at least, an ambivalent way. What is more, the rise of right wing and nationalist discourse in the ’90s was connected with the revitalization of religion’s status in both societies and the resurgence of the Polish Catholic Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church in the public sphere. Therefore, the western theory of secularization which is seen as an inherent attribute of the modernization process seems not to be applicable to the history of Poland and Georgia.The aforementioned issues led the author to conducting, in 2011 and 2012, of her master thesis research on the interplays between religiosity and gender among young women raised in the Orthodox tradition in Poland and Georgia. Using the tools of the semi – structured interviews, participant observation and comparative analysis, the research was the first attempt to explore the way of understanding and experiencing religiosity and gender of women born in the fall of the so-called “ Second World” as well as their agency in terms of postcolonial studies.




Helena Szczodry graduated with a M.A. in Sociology from the Jagiellonian University in Poland and minor in Development Studies from the Maastricht University in Netherlands. Co – editor of the book “Kobiety w społeczeństwie polskim” [Women in Polish Society] (Jagiellonian University Press 2011), co – author of the report „Qualitative assessment of social inclusion in the Małopolskie, Mazowieckie and Podkarpackie Regions: current status and good practices” (2013) and co – author of a sociological and oral history movie “The Railway Station Krasne – Busk. Stories of resettled women” (2013). She has been involved in various national and international research projects and her academic interests include gender studies, development studies and visual sociology, especially the South Caucasus area.







By Kornely Kakachıa and Tamara Pataraia, Tbilisi State University




Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:15 PM




This study explores the impact of modern communication technologies and social media networks on Georgian party politics and the ways in which political parties can promote greater public involvement in political processes through the use of social networks.The social media profiles of political players taking part in the 2012 Georgian parliamentary elections are analyzed and compared.




Kornely Kakachia is associate professor of political science at Ivane Javakishvili Tbilisi State University and director of Tbilisi based think tank the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP). He previously also worked as director of the School of Politics & International Relations at the University of Georgia (Tbilisi). His current research focuses on Georgian domestic and foreign policy, the security issues of the wider Black Sea area and comparative party politics. He was a recipient of IREX and OSI fellowships and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, (2009-2010) the Harriman Institute, Columbia University (2011) and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He has published numerous articles in different periodicals and is member of the International Studies Association(ISA) and PONARS (program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia group)- a global network of social scientists that seeks to promote scholarly work and policy engagement on transnational and comparative topics within the Eurasian space.




Tamara Pataraia is head of the European and Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Program at the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development. During her time at the Institute, she has been involved in various projects aiming at the monitoring of implementation of security and democratic transition policies in Georgia, focused on capacity building, research and policy analysis, She is an author of a number of research surveys and policy reports. Her spheres of professional interest are: democratic transition, foreign affairs, international relations and national security. She is a member of the following professional bodies; Quarterly Journal Connections (editorial board member), Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes; Civil Council on European and Euro-Atlantic Cooperation (board member). She holds a PhD degree in physics and mathematics from Tbilisi State University.










By Regis Gente




Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:15 PM




Régis Genté will present his new book “Putin and the Caucasus” (in French), published in Paris on January 9th, 2014, a month before the beginning of the Sochi Olympic games. As he explains, the idea of the book came to him when he realized how much Putin’s career as President is connected to the Caucasus. Putin became Prime minister, in August 1999, amid a new increase in tensions in Dagestan and Chechnya, followed by 5 terrorist bombings in Moscow and in the South of the Russian Federation, with a strong suspicion that FSB was involved, the second war in Chechnya, the consecutive extension of the nationalist-islamist rebellion in almost all the North Caucasus, and then the war in Georgia in 2008. All of these events, and especially those connected to his ascension to power, put under question the legitimacy of Mr. Putin and of his policy, especially towards the Caucasus. Therefore, as the book tries to demonstrate, the Sochi Olympic games are about to regaining this legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the international community. By welcoming the delegation from the entire world, Mr. Putin expects to force the international community to admit that his choices were correct. This is about more than Russia and Putin’s image, it’s about his essential legitimacy, which goes beyond the Putin’s fate as an individual. The Olympic games will take place exactly 150 years after what the Russian usually view as the official end of the Caucasian Wars of the 19th Century, the victory over the Circassian tribes in May 1864. The Olympic competitions will partly take place on the very spot of this “victory,” in Krasnaya Polyana. That’s more than a symbol. Perhaps the Olympic games are designed as a second victory over the Caucasus, as the final victory never took place? The book also raises the question of the Russia that Mr. Putin is building and the place for the Caucasian people in the Russian Federation.




Régis Genté is a French free-lance journalist based in Tbilisi and has been covering the Caucasus, Central Asia and Russia for 12 years for Le Figaro, Radio France Internationale, France 24 TV and other media outlets.







By Beka Kobakhidze, Tbilisi State University




Date: Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 18:15




In 1918, as the First World War ended and the Russian Empire collapsed, Georgia declared its independence. The Peace Conference in Paris in 1919 was intended to draw up a new world map that would summarize the results of the Great War and deal with the Russian problem. The Caucasus and Georgia were part of a project that involved not only the victorious powers’ policy towards Russia, but also the Turkish peace settlement and, most importantly, British interests in the east. If there would be any opportunity for Georgia to achieve recognition of her independence and provisions for her security, it would be in Paris, where the decision makers of world politics were sitting for an entire year. This talk will present how this story played out for the Georgian question.




Beka Kobakhidze is a doctoral candidate in contemporary Georgian history at Tbilisi State University. He received his BA in History of Diplomacy and International Relations from TSU in 2006 and an MA in contemporary Georgian history in 2009. For the past seven years his research has focused exclusively on the foreign policy of the first Georgian Democratic Republic (1918-21) using Georgian, Russian, British, American, French, Italian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani sources. His research has been supported by a Presidential Grant for young scholars, and he hopes to publish his monograph both in Georgia and in the UK. He is currently working for the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM).







By Gvantsa Jibladze, Nana Chabukiani, Natia Ubilava




Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 6:15 PM




Domestic violence is a particularly problematic issue in contemporary Georgia. According to the National Study on Domestic Violence conducted by UNFPA, every eleventh woman is a victim of domestic violence in Georgia. A law on the prevention of domestic violence, protection and assistance for victims of domestic violence was adopted in 2006 in Georgia. The adoption of this law, however, may be insufficient to overcome the problem. The success of state policy in combating the domestic violence depends on the way in which the state perceives the problem. Consequently, the aim of this research project is to examine: A). what is perceived as the reason for domestic violence; and B). who is perceived to be the victim of domestic violence. The research applied a policy frame analyses approach. Using the gender equality, woman centered and de-gendered frames developed in the MAGEEQ and QUING projects, we analyze policy documents and normative acts developed by the state through these frames. According to the research findings, the de-gendered frame is dominant in anti-domestic violence normative acts, which suggests that domestic violence is not viewed in terms of gender equality, and women are not considered to be the primary victim of domestic violence.




Gvantsa Jibladze graduated from Tbilisi State University with a BA in psychology, and in 2012 she earned an MA degree in social sciences and social science research methods from the same university. During this period she was involved in several research projects on issues of gender, domestic violence and the implementation of anti-domestic violence law in Georgia. Her MA research thesis was entitled “Is the Law Against Domestic Violence in Georgia Implementing Successfully, or not? A Contextual Interaction Theory Perspective.” She also participated in the 4th and 5th annual conferences on Gender Studies of the Center for Social Sciences. Her current research work continues in these directions.




Nana Chabukiani studied sociology and social science research methods at Tbilisi State University, and she recently graduated from Central European University with an MA in sociology and social anthropology. Her interests include gender, the sociology of religion, and the sociology of death. She has been involved in various research projects, including “Interagency United Efforts to Combat Domestic Violence in Georgia: Local or Western Agenda?” She is currently participating in a research project that aims at demonstrating the primary needs and problems of religious minorities in Georgia.




Natia Ubilava graduated from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of Tbilisi State University with a BA sciences in psychology, and she has an MA in social psychology from the same university. During her studies she was involved in research projects of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), including “Civic participation in transforming Societies: Motivation forces, Social Capital and Trust”. Her research interests include gender, women’s civic activeness and participation in political life, and collective memory. Natia is currently working for an international organization in Georgia.