Working group: Giorgi Tavadze, Vladimir Liparteliani, Irakli Chkhaidze
Project description: During the colonial rule of the Russian Empire, the discourse on Georgian statehood was suppressed by the imperial government. The dominant discourse supported by various imperial institutions portrayed the Russian Empire as an emancipatory force, which brought a peace in the Caucasus region, suffering from devastating wars and feuds. It should also be noted that this discourse was supported by a certain segment of Georgian society. However, there existed an alternative discourse which referred to the centuries-old tradition of Georgian statehood and found its expression in the demand for broad autonomy or even independence. The issue of Georgian statehood was related with the issue of the Georgian nation, and these complex issues raised the following questions: What is a nation? Who is included in (and who is excluded from) the Georgian nation? What should be the relationship between the Georgian nation and the Georgian state? During the Soviet occupation, these questions acquired new contexts of meaning(s). Anti-Soviet discourses, in the beginning suppressed and hidden, but gradually strengthening and undermining dominant discourses, were rooted in the tradition of alternative discourses from the colonial period. In addition to this, the issue of democracy was becoming more and more crucial. What is democracy? How should it develop in the state and what is the function of the nation in this process? Since the late 1980s, amid growing ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus region, the need to find answers to these questions has become increasingly important. The aim of the project is to analyze the different discourses about the state, the nation and democracy in the colonial and postcolonial/post-Soviet periods, as well as transformations of these discourses and their reception up to the present. The project will study the intellectual heritage of leading intellectuals (Ilia Chavchavadze, Varlam Cherkezishvili, Archil Jorjadze, Merab Mamardashvili, etc.), as well as discourses about specific issues (nation, democracy, state, and related themes).