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Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia

Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia

Florian Mühlfried
Series: EASA Series
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia
    Book Description:

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

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-297-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-xii)
  7. Note on Transcription
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the early 1990s, the Caucasus mountain range between the Russian Federation and Georgia mutated from an easily permeable intrastate boundary into a real international border. For almost seven decades, both countries had been part of the same super polity, the Soviet Union, with Georgia’s border with Turkey demarcating the front line between the Soviet empire and the West. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the declaration of an independent Georgian republic oriented towards NATO and the European Union, however, the peaks of the Caucasus have come to separate the spheres of Western and Russian influence, with both...

  9. 1 A Mobile Field
    (pp. 19-51)

    The village of Omalo, administrative centre of highland Tusheti in the republic of Georgia, is situated a little higher than 2,000 metres above sea level and divided into a lower and an upper part. The lower village (boseli[stable]) spreads across a small plateau that is surrounded by deep ravines to the south, west and east, and that in the north is protected by a hill. On top of the hill, the fortress of K’eselo, only recently restored with funds from a Dutch-Georgian organisation, overlooks the village. In this fortress, the village population took shelter in the nineteenth century during...

  10. 2 Hidden Treasures in the Mountains and a State that Comes and Goes
    (pp. 52-91)

    In what came to be one of the most popular Soviet films, 1Mimino, a pilot and the movie’s eponymous hero provides regular helicopter flights between the Georgian lowland and a mountainous region, which the knowledgeable spectator will be able to identify as Tusheti. Although Mimino himself lives in the lowland, he regularly visits his grandfather, sister and her son in a small village whenever he flies up to the mountains. Besides delivering letters and other postal items, we see him transporting flour, goats, dogs, sheep and shepherds alike. He seems to care for the place; whenever he gets to...

  11. 3 Reborn Citizens in a Post-Soviet Landscape
    (pp. 92-126)

    ‘Why are you spending time with shepherds when you are interested in citizenship?’ was the soft version of the inherent allegation that for nearly the entire run of my field research in the Georgian highlands I was somehow always in the wrong place at the wrong time. For most of the people that I talked to about my fieldwork, citizenship appeared to exist in different degrees: more or less among certain people and in certain places. This belief was widely shared, irrespective of where my interlocutors lived and what kind of profession or education they had. In this context, shepherds...

  12. 4 Three Ways to Be a State
    (pp. 127-164)

    Imagine being asked for your passport by your neighbour from the next village, wearing a uniform and shouldering a machine gun. Until yesterday, you have never seen him dressed in military clothes, and although you had already noticed his liking for weapons, the gun he is holding now looks much more serious and threatening. Whom do you see at this moment – a neighbour with unique physical traits, an individual with a lifestyle well known to you? Or a soldier, part of a collective order, representing a state, de-individualised and acting according to command? You have done business with him, eaten...

  13. 5 Triple Winning and Simple Losing
    (pp. 165-200)

    Most of the joint activities in the Tushetian village Kvemo Alvani are centred on folk or church festivals. The latter are either celebrated close to the adjacent medieval church of Alaverdi or at the ruins of a small church next to the village. Folk festivals mostly take place within the village. One of them is a spring festival dedicated to the memorial of the dead calledbacuk’aobaorsultk’reba, which is only celebrated among Tushetians in this particular form. Today and in the past, this festival is observed mostly by women, because either the men are busy on the winter...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 201-206)

    ‘Being a state and states of being’ (as in the title) refers to modes of citizenship. One such mode is the deliberate incorporation and enactment of the state, as illustrated by the Tushetians’ activities at the border zones in the early 1990s. ‘Being a state’ is surely an increased form of citizenship, yet its other forms also involve a certain willingness to be part of the body politic. Sometimes, evoking the state can go wrong, or may at least cause unwanted consequences, as the outcome of the Tushetians’ state performance quite plainly shows. In other cases, it helps to consolidate...

  15. Appendix
    (pp. 207-220)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-234)
  17. Index
    (pp. 235-248)