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Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia

Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia

Martin Demant Frederiksen
Series: Global Youth
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia
    Book Description:

    In the midst of societal optimism, how do young men cope with the loss of a vibrant future?Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgiaprovides a vivid exploration of the tension between subjective and societal time and the ways these tensions create experiences of marginality among under- or unemployed young men in the Republic of Georgia.

    Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Martin Demant Frederiksen shows how the Georgian state has attempted to make the so-called post-Soviet transition a thing of the past as it creates new ideas about the future. Yet some young men in the regional capital of Batumi do not feel that they are part of the progression these changes create. Instead, they feel marginalized both by space and time-passed over and without prospects.

    This distinctive case study provides empirical evidence for a deeper understanding of contemporary societal developments and their effects on individual experiences.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0920-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-5)

    August funfair. Apparently there is nothing for me to do here at all, at least so I’m told. Batumi, the regional center of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, in western Georgia, is new to me, although I have been here twice before on short visits in 2004 and 2005. Today, in mid-2008, only three years later, nothing is as I remember it. In 2004, when the local leader, Aslan Abashidze, was ousted as a result of Georgia’s Rose Revolution, anxiety dominated the city. Mass fights erupted out of nothing, everyone seemed unsure of what would happen next, and the beaches...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Overview
    (pp. 6-24)

    Although his hair was turning gray and his lungs were failing him, Emil was only twenty years old when we met. Physically he was aging too quickly, but socially he was unable to become a grown man. The criminal underworlds that dominated his hometown of Batumi during his childhood in the 1990s had been officially declared a part of the past, but they continued somehow to remain a presence in Emil’s life. State-sponsored material reconstruction of his hometown was meant to be a reminder of the city’s bright future as a tourist resort, but this was not a future Emil...


      (pp. 27-29)

      The aim of this first section is to explore empirically what Davit means when he says that there are “devils in a quiet swamp” and why this saying was seen by my informants as an apt description of Batumi and their lives there. Who were the devils? How had they come about? And what did they do? I seek an answer to these questions by looking at the social changes and processes of fragmentation that had set their mark on Batumi in terms of ruins that were both material and social in nature. It is on this foundation that I...

    • CHAPTER 2 Walking a Ruined City
      (pp. 30-46)

      Ruins encode a city with meaning, residing as they often do in a temporal space between abandonment and a potential future (Edensor 2005: 4). Rather than taking just one shape, they are manifold in form. In Batumi, some ruins were obvious, standing out in open spaces or partially hidden behind fences. Others had been absorbed partly by newer additions, and still others existed only in their complete absence—the knowledge that “something used to be here.” Ruins and fragments in the city pointed toward a range of pasts, from the early Roman presence and Ottoman influence over Russian tsarist constructions...

    • CHAPTER 3 Devils and Brotherhoods
      (pp. 47-71)

      In their study of the urban planning that created modern Paris, Michel de Certeau and his colleagues claim that Paris is a city of ghosts. The “already there”—that existed before the new structures of urban planning arrived—remain in the city as uncanny beings, ancient scars in the new from a stubborn past (de Certeau 1998: 133). Whereas some ghosts, they write, are “exorcised” as the buildings they reside in are turned into national heritage, others remain to linger in the air, acquiring an “unplanned afterlife” (ibid.: 134). Similar areas of national heritage could also be found in Batumi,...

    • CONCLUSION: A Period Made Past
      (pp. 72-76)

      During my first days in Batumi, as the war began, Nino, a local acquaintance, referred to the president as “King Fountain the First.” As she said, “All he does is build fountains! Yes, he also built some roads and made sure we have electricity; that’s also good, but what do we need all those fountains for?” The answer to this question seems to lie in political power struggles played out in and on urban space.

      In Batumi, crumbling facades, fragments, and partly finished structures indexed not only the failure of those who had once built them but also the political...


      (pp. 79-82)

      In the American filmGroundhog Day(Ramis 1993), Bill Murray portrays a TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. At first he indulges in acts of hedonism and then becomes more and more desperate to end the loop by attempting suicide. Still, he wakes up to the same day every day. After a long period, he begins to reexamine his life, eventually breaking the loop by changing as a person.

      When I returned to Batumi in the spring of...

    • CHAPTER 4 The White Georgian
      (pp. 83-102)

      In this chapter, I tell the story of a guy and a band and their life. A big blue iron gate stood before Gosha’s house. Scratched into the rusty paint were the words “MAD FAMILY.” The gate was not there just to keep away trespassers but just as much to keep away society. Gosha lived in the house with his two brothers and his four-year-old son, who stayed with Gosha every other week. “Family” did not refer merely to Gosha’s biological kin. The house was the realm of a small brotherhood whose members referred to and regarded each other as...

    • CHAPTER 5 A Tale of Two Artists
      (pp. 103-114)

      Armen and Magu shared the same dream with Gosha: they wanted to be able to make a living from their art—rap music and drawing, respectively. Like Gosha, they used their personal experiences and images of the “dark side” in their individual forms of expression; unlike Gosha, their way of relating to the future was not based on a single dream. Rather, it was a matter of day-to-day business. This chapter explores how some of my informants, including Armen and Magu, attempted to engage directly with the future, seeking it out purposefully on a daily basis.

      Armen and Magu were...

    • CONCLUSION: “Because of” or “In Order To”?
      (pp. 115-118)

      When what is wished for arrives, Ernst Bloch noted inThe Principle of Hope,it surprises us, which is why we often end up hoping for more (Bloch 1955: 42). This might have been the case for Giorgi when he suddenly encountered an opportunity to work, for months something that he had longed for. He was a bartender and had a steady job in the summer months. He tried to get a job in a casino during the autumn but with no luck. Instead, he sat at home all day playing online computer games. “Home” was the apartment of Elena’s...


      (pp. 121-123)

      In late March 2010, almost a year after I had finished my fieldwork, Emil wrote me an e-mail containing only three words: “Magu has died.” It did not explain how. Magu had already been buried when I found out.

      Like most others, Emil had a profile onodnoklassniki.In the days after Magu’s death, Emil’s update on the profile read, “яцмаЛя потсряЛ тоЛЬко ЛуЧШего Цруга, оказьІвается потеряЛ боЛьШую частъ своего сердца” (“I thought I only lost my best friend. It now occurs to me that I also lost a large part of my heart”). I called Emil to ask what...

    • CHAPTER 6 Subjunctive Moods and Imperative Reminders
      (pp. 124-146)

      In Chapter 4, Gosha at times talked about the future as if it had already happened and at other times he fell deeper and deeper into depression because he felt that he was longing for a future that might never become reality. At stake here was one relatively clear idea of what the future would—or rather had to—be. This made it fragile because the alternatives to the fulfilment of Gosha’s one dream were bleak. In Chapter 5 Armen and Magu also had dreams about the future and they, unlike Gosha, tried to make these into present reality by...

    • CHAPTER 7 Subjunctive Materialities
      (pp. 147-159)

      Uncertainty and speculation often surrounded discussions about events on a broader societal and political level. Although my informants generally held that they were not interested in politics, they would at times recount stories they had heard on the news. Emil sometimes eagerly watched CNN when he visited me to find out when the international financial crisis would be over, and Muni sometimes showed me clips that he had come across on the Internet featuring Russian or Georgian political statements about the possibility of another armed conflict. actual participation in political activities and engagement with party politics, however, was almost nonexistent....

    • CONCLUSION: Horizons in Motion
      (pp. 160-162)

      My argument in this section is that the future can be a haunting presence in everyday life just as the past can be. Indeed, as Frederic Jameson notes with reference to Jacques Derrida, the future as much as the past is spectral; there are “traces of the future” in the present (Jameson 1995: 103). But how can the future be said to haunt the present, as something not yet there that nonetheless has to be recognized, that affects both imagination and daily practice? As Ann Mische (2009) has argued, the future is at all times embedded in the present. The...


      (pp. 165-166)

      The pace in the city was picking up and, with summer returning, a cycle seemed to be closing. But it was not a repetition of the previous year. Much had happened; much was different. The winter season had been long, with dragging days and constant rain, but there had been much more than mere nose blowing and jerking off. In the midst of a seeming inertia, individual desires, dreams, and aspirations had played out, both alongside and against larger and often dramatic societal changes.

      Why, then, was Batumi so boring? Or, to put it differently, why did my informants perceive...

    • CHAPTER 8 Social Afterlives and the Creation of Temporal Margins
      (pp. 167-182)

      In hisSpecters of Marx(2006), Jacques Derrida coined the term “hauntology,” a play on “ontology” (best understood when pronounced in French). Hauntology, for Derrida, was meant to supplant ontology by replacing the priority of being and presence with a focus on what is neither completely present nor completely absent: the ghostly. As Frederic Jameson has pointed out, in Derrida’s writings such “spectrality” is not a matter of whether one believes in ghosts or whether ghosts exist. Instead, it tries to convey that “the living present is scarcely as self-sufficient as it claims to be” (Jameson 1995: 39). For Derrida,...

      (pp. 183-186)

      Emil and I meet soon after I arrive in Batumi in the spring of 2010 to visit the grave of Magu. “Hello Martin!” he yells as he sees me. “Let’s walk!” And so we do, for hours, as usual. Roma joins us after a while, and Emil suggests that we “drink like the homeless”—sitting at the beach for lack of a place indoors. We go to a supermarket to buy vodka and some plastic cups. I suggest that we also buy some food, and they take a plate of chocolate from a shelf along with a can of carbonated...

    (pp. 187-196)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 197-200)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)