2013 Events

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Armenia

The Reading Group in Yerevan

After a break for Thanksgiving, The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) resumes its Reading Group in Yerevan.

Time and date: Thursday December 5 at 6:30 pm

Reading. As suggested by the group, we shall read William Saroyan, a short story, The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze, and a short play called Coming Through The Rye. Please email us at armenia “at” arisc.org to get the files for reading. Please make sure to read the English version, not the Armenian or Russian.

Venue: Charents 31/4, the library of the Caucasus Institute.

The Reading Group in Yerevan

The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) invites you to attend the first Reading Group in Yerevan in the fall 2013 season. Every week, we read and discuss fiction and non-fiction that has relevance for Armenia and the Caucasus. The group is open to the public, the reading and discussion language is English. Feel free to join and invite your friends.

Reading: “Kirakos,” a short story by Aghassi Ayvazyan

Time: 6 pm, Thursday, November 7, 2013

Venue: Charents 31/4, the library of the Caucasus Institute.

Directions: Go up the cobbles to the former Dzerzhinsky School and turn right. The CI is the first building on the right side of the street, with a brown gate.

Please contact armenia “at” arisc.org with any questions. If you decide to attend, we will email you a pdf of the short story so you can read it in advance of the event. Please make sure to read the English version, not the Armenian or Russian, so we are all on the same page.

Seminar: Spaces of Diaspora Investment: Urban Transformations and Transnational Linkages in the Landscape of Yerevan

Venue: Caucasus Institute, Yeznik Koghbatsi 39, Yerevan, Armenia

Time: Friday, August 9, 2013, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Speaker: Dr. Diana Ter-Ghazaryan, Lecturer at University of Miami and ARISC Fellow

Description: With the help of a Fellowship from the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) in 2013 Dr. Diana Ter-Ghazaryan is conducting research on diaspora investment in Yerevan, and two spaces in particular—the Cafesjian Center of the Arts and the Yerevan Park of Lovers. In the seminar, she will present preliminary research results and will speak about how these spaces, revitalized with diaspora funds, construct new material and symbolic spaces in the contemporary landscape of Yerevan.

Dr. Diana Ter-Ghazaryan is a Lecturer at the University of Miami’s Department of Geography. She is a human geographer with research interests in the Former Soviet Union, urban geography, and qualitative and critical applications of geospatial technology and GIS. Dr. Ter-Ghazaryan is also an ARISC Graduate Student, Postdoctoral and Junior Faculty Research Fellowship awardee. Funding for this fellowship is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.

 https://www.facebook.com/events/418839018230047/

This event is free and open to the public.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and the Caucasus Institute.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Seminar: Studying Pastoralism in Ancient Armenia: Excavations of Late Bronze Age Kurgans in the Tsaghkahovit Plain

Venue: Museum of Geology of the National Academy of Sciences, Bagramyan 24a, Yerevan, Armenia

Time: Friday, August 2, 2013, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Speaker: Hannah Chazin, PhD Student, University of Chicago and ARISC Fellow

Description: Hannah Chazin is a 2013 recipient of the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) Graduate Fellowship. Ms. Chazin is conducting excavations in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, studying pastoralism in the Late Bronze Age in Armenia. In the seminar, she will speak about her research, addressing the social, economic, and political roles of herd animals in Late Bronze Age life.
Ms. Chazin is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, an ARISC Fellow, and a member of Project ArAGATS – a joint Armenian-American archaeological expedition. Her technical specialization is the study of animal bones and her research focuses on the role of animals in social life.  

See the event on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/606001616097843/

This event is free and open to the public.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and the Museum of Geology of the NAS of Armenia.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Seminar: The Present and the Future of Bioarchaeological, Archaeological and Paleontological Collections at Yerevan State University

Venue: Museum of Geology, Institute of Geology, Bagramyan 24a, Yerevan, Armenia

Time: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Speakers: Miriam Belmaker, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Dr. Belmaker is a co-recipient of the ARISC Collaborative Heritage Management Grant and an ARISC Fellow. She has research focuses in Paleoanthropology and paleozoology with an expertise on climate change and human evolution. She has excavated in South Africa, Israel, Armenia and Jordan and has published in journals such as Journal of Human Evolution and Journal of Archaeological Sciences.

Ruzan Mkrtchyan, Lecturer at the Department of History of Yerevan State University and Senior Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. Dr. Mkrtchyan is a co-recipient of the ARISC Collaborative Heritage Management Grant and an ARISC Fellow. Her research focus is on anthropology and bioarcheology. She has excavated throughout Armenia, studying human osseological material from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages.

Colleen Bell, Graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Her dissertation focuses on lithic production sequences and use wear analysis in the Levant and the Caucasus in the Paleolithic. She has widely published on the issue of chemical analyses hafting residues using high level microscopy.

Agenda

1:00  – 1:30   Ruzan Mkrtchyan “Changing paradigms in teaching bioanthropology and human evolution”

1:30 –  2:00   Miriam Belmaker “Biochronology and biogeography of the Levant and Caucasus – new data from the museum”

2:00  – 2:30   Colleen Bell “Using old lithic collection to gather new data”

Description:

In 2013, the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) is sponsoring Dr. Miriam Belmaker and Dr. Ruzan Mkrtchyan to curate (preserve, catalogue, and digitize) the human remains collection at the Yerevan State University and to make the content of the collections accessible via publication and online platform to the research community, thereby drawing new research to Armenia and preserving knowledge regarding the heritage of Armenia which can be derived from its paleo-population.

At the seminar, the speakers will speak of the collection, its importance and scientific uses.

For more information, please see  https://www.facebook.com/events/475335352551957/

This event is free and open to the public and made possible by funding from Project Discovery!

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and the Institute of Geology of the Armenian Academy of Sciences.

Reading Group in Armenia

The Reading Group in Armenia meets on Thursdays at 6 p.m.every week in the first-floor library at the address 39 Yeznik Koghbatsi.

These events are free and open to the public and made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.
ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

The ARISC Reading Group will take a break for the V-day holidays and meet again on May 16, at 6 pm as usual, at 39 Yeznik Koghbatsi. We are still discussing Saroyan and will need to decide together what to read next time. Suggestions welcome!

The reading for next week’s group on Thursday, May 2 is a short story called ‘Dear Baby” from the same collection of early stories by William Saroyan. Whoever wants to join us, please email armenia *at* arisc *dot* org to get hold of a copy.

Next time, we meet on Thursday, April 25 at 6 p.m. as usual. We have moved on to William Saroyan, an all-time favorite. We will start with a collection of his early stories. The reading for April 25 is a short story called ‘Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart.” Whoever wants to join us, please email armenia *at* arisc *dot* org to get hold of a copy.

The next meeting of the group will be held on Thursday April 18, at 6 p.m., same place. We are still reading Fazil Iskander, Forbidden Fruit and other Stories, this time a story called “My idol.”

Attention: next week the Reading Group meets at 6 pm on Wednesday April 10, because some of us will be going to the concert of the Vienna Orchestra on Thursday night. We will discuss “Forbidden Fruit,” the story that gave its name to this collection by Fazil Iskander.

The second meeting of the Reading Group will take place on Thursday April 4 at 6 p.m., same place. We suggest making 6 p.m. on Thursdays our meeting time. The reading we selected last time is a story called “Old Crooked Arm” from Forbidden Fruit and other Stories by Fazil Iskander.

The Reading Group in Armenia will meet for the first time on March 28 at 6 p.m. in the Caucasus Institute which generously allowed us to use its library. The address is 39 Yeznik Koghbatsi, 1st floor. As reading for the first group, here is a link to Forbidden Fruit and other Stories by contemporary Abkhazian storyteller Fazil Iskander.

Writing Group in Armenia

The first ARISC Writing Group in Armenia will meet on Thursday May 23 at 6 pm, at 39 Yeznik Koghbatsi, library on the first floor.
We will discuss two short stories by group member Nairi Avedissian, “School Lunch” and “Sherin.” Nairi wrote these stories about her childhood in Egypt and has not yet published them, so we have the privilege to be among the first readers and critics.

Seminar on Modern Botanical Collections as a Basis for Comparative Analysis of Paleobotanical and Archaeobotanical Findings

Time: 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Venue: Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, 15 Charents Str., Yerevan

Dr. Ivan Gabrielyan, Senior Researcher with the Institute of Botany, will present the results of the work that he did in 2012 within the framework of an ARISC project  to compile a collection of modern Armenian fruits, seeds and flora, which can be used for the comparative study of paleobotanical and archeobotanical samples.

ARISC Resident Director in Armenia Nina Iskandaryan will present the programs of the ARISC that enable the joint activities of academic bodies and researchers from the U.S. and the South Caucasus.

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Azerbaijan

WiP in Baku: Uncertain Returns: Ahiska Turks in Azerbaijan?

ARISC and CRRC Azerbaijan invite you to the next talk of the Work-in-Progress Series
“Uncertain Returns: Ahiska Turks in Azerbaijan”?
by Irina Levin, New York University and CAORC Fellow
Date: 16 December 2013
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: CRRC-Azerbaijan, Khazar University, 122 Bashir Safaroglu Street
RSVP: azerbaijan “at” arisc.org or nargiz “at” crrccenters.org
Overview: The focus of Ms. Levin’s current project, which also encompasses field sites in Turkey and Georgia, 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? Broadly put, the aim of the 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 the first half of her fieldwork in the context of current frameworks in legal anthropology and citizenship studies, as well as insights from the anthropology of post-socialism. At this stage of her work, she welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions.

Speaker’s bio: 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 Azerbaijan, 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).

*This Work-in-Progress series is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) and The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All lectures are free and open to the public.

Follow this event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanResearchInstituteoftheSouthCaucasus?ref=hl

ARISC Lecture: From Humble Meals to the Food of Empire: Exploring Political Complexity Over Time in Ancient Southwest Asia Through Zooarchaeological Data

Hannah Lau, University of California, Los Angeles and ARISC Fellow

Date: September 25, 2013, 3 pm

Location: Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, 31, H.Javid av., Baku

Overview: Zooarchaeological data — animal bones recovered from archaeological contexts — offer an essential means of learning about the lives of past peoples. This vein of archaeological inquiry contributes to a broader understanding of social history by illuminating aspects of the past economy, social organization, and political and ritual structure. This talk will focus specifically on lecturer’s research reconstruct political economy from faunal assemblages using two different case studies. The first will compare subsistence strategies and commensal politics at the Late Neolithic sites of Kamiltepe in Azerbaijan and Domuztepe in Turkey. The second will discuss changing occupations and concomitant changing subsistence strategies over time at the multi-period site of Oğlanqala in Naxçivan, Azerbaijan.

Lecturer’s bio: Hannah Lau is a PhD student at University of California, Los Angeles. She has obtained her MA from UCLA’s Interdepartmental Program of Archaeology and her BA from University of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology.  Hannah Lau is an ARISC Fellow currently working with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut’s project investigating the Mil Plain in the Agcabedi Rayon, Azerbaijan, which is part of the Ancient Kura Project. Her research proposal is titled “Feasting and Emergent Political Complexity in the Late Neolithic Ancient Near East: Evidence from Kamiltepe” and funding for this fellowship was possible by a grant from US Department of Education. Her research is also supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.  Hannah Lau has participated in various archaeological projects including the excavations at Kamiltepe (Azerbaijan), Domuztepe (Turkey), Naxchivan Archaeological Project (Azerbaijan), Laikipia Regional Survey Project (Kenya) etc.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

ARISC Fellow Talk: “Highland Fortress-polities and Their Settlement Systems in the South Caucasus”

The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus is pleased to present:

“Highland Fortress-polities and Their Settlement Systems in the South Caucasus”

Emily Hammer, New York University and ARISC Fellow

Location: Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Naxçivan Section, H.Aliyev Avenue 76, Naxcivan City, Azerbaijan

Date: July 31, 2013, 11 am

Overview: In the Late Bronze Age (1500-1150 BC) and Iron Age (1150 BC-300 AD), fortresses dotted hilltops and rock outcrops in the highlands of eastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and the south Caucasus (modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). After a long period of mobility and pastoral economy that left few archaeologically-visible settlements during the preceding Middle Bronze Age (2400-1500 BC), Late Bronze and Iron Age fortresses marked the reappearance of a more settled mode of life, the transition to an agricultural economy, and the emergence of the first complex polities in the region. However, little is known about the location, size, and character of the domestic settlements that must have been associated with these fortresses or the identity and subsistence strategies of their inhabitants.

Landscape-oriented archaeological research in the Şərur Plain of Naxçıvan, Azerbaijan, has revealed a multiple fortress-settlement complex that offers the opportunity to examine the ancient populations living in the shadows of fortresses. Oğlanqala, the dominant fortress on the plain, was part of a settlement complex consisting of two fortresses and a domestic settlement, all of which may have been surrounded by a wall enclosing at least 487 ha. The size of the enclosed area is particularly significant: in the South Caucasus, settlements of pre-Medieval periods rarely encompass more than 10ha, including their fortification walls. The position of the complex at the entrance to a river pass may have facilitated control of highland pastoral and lowland agricultural resources. These discoveries demonstrate the benefits of settlement and landscape archaeology approaches in the South Caucasus, suggest that a large fortified settlement emerged in Naxçıvan as early as the Middle Bronze Age (during a period where few settlements are known and archaeological interpretations largely rest on excavation of kurgan burials), and indicate that the Iron Age Urartian state (ninth-seventh centuries BC) expanded into an area with pre-existing complex political and settlement traditions.

Lecturer’s bio: Emily Hammer holds a PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University (2012) and a BA both in Mathematics and Classical Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College (2006). Her research and teaching interests include the development of complex societies in the ancient Near East and the impacts these societies had on their environments. In particular, she has studied the relationship between sedentary and mobile communities and their associated natural and engineered landscapes in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the United Arab Emirates. Her methodological expertise is in landscape archaeology, employing Geographical Information Systems and spatial analysis to integrate the results of archaeological survey and excavation with data gleaned from historical texts, ethnography, environmental records, digital terrain models, and satellite imagery. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and an ARISC Graduate Student, Postdoctoral and Junior Faculty Research Fellowship awardee. Funding for this fellowship is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. Dr. Hammer’s current summer research in Azerbaijan (in collaboration with Drs. Lauren Ristvet and Hilary Gopnik) is co-sponsored by ARISC and the Dyson Research Fund of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanResearchInstituteoftheSouthCaucasus?ref=hl#!/events/209058099217997/

* ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP Series in Baku: “Navigating Persianate Influences in 19th Century Azeri Cultural Production”

CRRC-Azerbaijan and ARISC invite you to the next talk of the Work-in-Progress Series:

“Navigating Persianate Influences in 19th Century Azeri Cultural Production”
Kelsey Rice, University of Pennsylvania and ARISC Fellow

Date: Friday, July 26, 2013,  17:00-18:30 pm

Location: CRRC-Azerbaijan, Khazar University, 122 Bashir Safaroglu Street, Baku, Azerbaijan

Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

Overview: Azeri intellectual history often starts with the turn-of-the century Jadids (modernists) and ignores preceding intellectual traditions that led up to this movement. As a result, European and Russian influence becomes emphasized while the much longer history of cultural exchange and connectedness with the Persian Empire is ignored. Ms. Rice will discuss various aspects of Persian-Azeri cultural intersections and exchanges in 19th Century Azerbaijan. Primarily she will discuss bilingual Persian-Azeri speaking intellectuals who wrote in the two languages from the mid-19th century and show how their intellectual legacy influenced turn-of-the-century Azeri Jadids. In particular Ms. Rice will investigate which aspects of Persian culture were embraced and which were rejected over the course of the nineteenth century, tracing the evolution of cultural and intellectual values in Azerbaijan. She will use findings from her recent research on Persian Literary Influence in Azeri Intellectual History.

Lecturer’s bio: Kelsey Rice is an ARISC Graduate Student, Postdoctoral and Junior Faculty Research Fellowship awardee. Funding for this fellowship is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. Ms. Rice’s most recent interest topics include jadidism and Persian impact on Azerbaijani intellectual history. Ms. Rice’s research project is titled “Ambiguous Legacies: Persian Literary Influence in Azeri Intellectual History” and she is carrying fieldwork in Baku this summer. Ms. Rice has received her BA from Hamilton College in 2010 and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been teaching at the Department of History at University of Pennsylvania since 2012, and at Western University of Baku Department of Western Languages in 2010-2011 academic years. Ms. Rice has also been the recipient of several awards including 2008 Emerson Research Grant to research Middle Eastern historiography and State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Azerbaijani in 2010.

For more information, please see https://www.facebook.com/events/172143556298656/
and http://crrc.az/index.php/en/8/999/385/

*This Work in Progress series is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) and The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All lectures are free and open to the public.

Reading Group in Azerbaijan

Reading Group – December 26

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and American Center invite you to the next session of the Reading Group.
Date: 4:30 pm, Thursday, December 26
Venue: American Center/Azerbaijan University of Languages, 134 R. Behbudov
Reading: “The Good Russian Prisoner: Naturalizing Violence in the Caucasus Mountains” by Bruce Grant (published in Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 1 (2005): 39-67)
Url: http://anthropology.as.nyu.edu/docs/IO/2407/2005–grant–prisoner.pdf
Please, contact us at azerbaijan “at” arisc.org for any questions.
See this event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AmericanResearchInstituteoftheSouthCaucasus?ref=hl or Events page of ARISC website www.arisc.org
* ARISC Reading Group as a biweekly meeting of international and local scholars to discuss a selected literature was launched in March 2013, and was generously hosted by the American Center. Fall 2013 season of Reading Group is co-organised by ARISC and American Center.

Reading Group is a unique opportunity to get engaged in academic/literary discussion and debate in an informal atmosphere, to meet with fellow American/international scholars as well as establish ties with local scholars. American Center also offers free access to e-resources (full text scientific journals). Besides we suggest an opportunity of video-conferences with other Reading Groups in Georgia and possibly in Armenia. Scholars from all disciplines are welcomed. This event is free and open to the public.
** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – December 12
American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and American Center invite you to the Reading Group.
Date: 4:30 pm, Thursday, December 12.
Venue: American Center/Azerbaijan University of Languages, 134 R. Behbudov
Reading: “Ali and Nino: A Love Story”, by Kurban Said

Additional readings:
“The Core Author of Ali and Nino. Does It Really Matter?” by Betty Blair
Url: http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai152_folder/152_pdf/152_pdf_english/ai_152_ali_nino_editorial_eng.pdf
“The Phantom Author of an Unfathomable Land: Ali and Nino” by Günil Özlem Ayaydin Cebe
http://jhss-khazar.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/4cu-meqale-nevshehir.pdf
Please, contact us at azerbaijan “at” arisc.org or akhundovanargiz “at” gmail.com for any questions.
See this event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AmericanResearchInstituteoftheSouthCaucasus?ref=hl

Reading Group – November 28
American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and American Center invite you to the Reading Group.
Date: 4:30 pm, Thursday, November 28.
Venue: American Center/Azerbaijan University of Languages, 134 R. Behbudov
Reading: Yellow Bride, by Elchin and Mother had grown old by Altay Mammadov
URL: 1) http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai121_folder/121_articles/121_short_story_elchin.html
2) http://azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/71_folder/71_articles/71_mammadov.html
Please, contact azerbaijan “at” arisc.org if you have questions or need more information.

Reading Group – November 14
ARISC is happy to announce collaboration with Baku American Center. The fall 2013 season of our Baku Reading Group is co-organized by the American Center.
Everyone is welcome to join our second meeting!
American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and American Center invite you to the Reading Group.
Date: 4:30 pm, Thursday, November 14.
Venue: American Center/Azerbaijan University of Languages, 134 R. Behbudov
Reading: “The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho
URL: http://justbreatheaspiritualjourney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/the-alchemist.pdf

Please, contact us at azerbaijan@arisc.org or akhundovanargiz@gmail.com for any questions.

Reading Group – October 31

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus and American Center invite you to the Reading Group.
Date: 4:30 pm, Thursday, October 31
Venue: American Center/Azerbaijan University of Languages, 134 R. Behbudov
Reading: “Me, You, Him and the Telephone” and “The Morning of that Night” by Azerbaijani author Anar
URL: 1)http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/ai121_folder/121_articles/121_short_story_anar.html
2) http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/71_folder/71_articles/71_anar.html

Please, contact us at azerbaijan “at” arisc.org or akhundovanargiz “at” gmail.com for any questions.

* ARISC Reading Group as a biweekly meeting of US scholars and local academic community members to discuss a selected literature was launched in March 2013, and was generiously hosted by the American Center. From October 2013 Reading Group is co-organised by ARISC and American Center.
Reading Group is a unique opportunity to get engaged in academic/literary discussion and debate in an informal atmosphere, to meet with fellow American scholars as well as establish ties with local scholars. Besides we also suggest an opportunity of video-conferences with other Reading Groups in Georgia and possibly in Armenia. Scholars from all disciplines are welcomed.

** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – July 30

ARISC Reading Group in Baku to meet on, July 30, Tuesday, at 5 pm, at the Dept. of International Relations of Azerbaijan University of Languages (address: 60 Rashid Behbudov). We are gong to discuss “Gender and Social Enterpreneurship in Societies in Transition: The Case of Azerbaijan” by Mehrangiz Naafizadeh and Lewis Mennerick. For the article visit the Library of Information Resource Complex (61 R.Behbudov)
Reminder: we will be on a break in August and meet again in September.

Please, contact azerbaijan “at” arisc.org for any questions.

* This event is free and open to the public.
** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – July 13 

ARISC invites you to the next Reading Group in Baku after a month of break.
Date:  Saturday, July 13th, 11:30 am
Venue: Reading Hall of the International Relations Department of Azerbaijan University of Languages,  61 Rashid Behbudov st.
Reading:  ”Recasting and Recording Identities in the Caucasus” by Touraj Atabaki.
Url: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4030722uid=2129&uid=2&
uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102443013051

Please do not hesitate to write to azerbaijan “at” arisc.org if you have any questions.

* This event is free and open to the public.
** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – May 24

Next ARISC Reading Group in Baku will meet on May 24, at 5:30 pm, at the American Center, 60 Rashid Behbudov. This week’s reading is “Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak. The link for this compelling and enlightening novel: http://ebookbrowse.com/gdoc.php?id=420065571&url=f09bd78c251fe2dd7da0ea6348226b49

Please contact Azerbaijan “at” arisc.org if you have any questions.

*This event is free and open to the public.

*ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran

Reading Group-  May 10

ARISC Reading Group will meet on Friday, May 10, at 5:30 pm, at the American Center. We are going to discuss “My Name is Red” by the acclaimed Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. The pdf might be downloaded here: http://www.readanybook.com/ebook/my-name-is-red-71699

Please do not hesitate to write to azerbaijan “at” arisc.org if you have any questions.

* This event is free and open to the public and is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.
** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group  – April 26

ARISC Reading Group in Azerbaijan meets once in each two weeks, beginning from March 29. Our last Reading Group discussion on the topic “Stalin Puzzle” that took place on April 13 went very vigorously. Thanks to all for participating.

The next Reading Group will be on April 26, Friday, at 5:30 pm, at the American Center in the University of Languages. The address is 61 Rashid Behbudov str.  We will discuss “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. This is a story of family, war, friendship and immigration. Hope everyone will enjoy. The book may be downloaded here: http://ubuntuone.com/3dfh6jglSjduJdMeMum194

For any questions, please contact azerbaijan “at” arisc.org

* This event is free and open to the public and is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.
** ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – April 13

Date and time: 3 pm, Saturday, April 13

Venue: Azerbaijan University of Languages, 4th floor, Reading-room of the International Relations Department
Reading of the week:
“The Stalin Puzzle” edited by Thomas de Waal and published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

URL: http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/03/01/stalin-puzzle-deciphering-post-soviet-public-o//pinion/fmz8

Should you have any questions or need further details please email azerbaijan “at” arisc.org

This event is free and open to the public and is made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.
ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

Reading Group – March 29

ARISC invites US scholars to Reading Group in Baku! Local scholars are welcome to join us!

Reading: A Prisoner in Caucasus, by Leo (Lev) Tolstoy
URL: http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2888/
Date and time: 3 pm March 29, Friday
Venue: 60 R. Behbudov st, American Center Baku at Azerbaijan University of Languages

For any questions about this event, please contact azerbaijan “at” arisc.org

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Georgia

Reading Group in Tbilisi

The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) invites you to a Reading Group in Tbilisi!

Reading:  Flight from the USSR

by David Turashvili

Available online at: http://sulakauri.ge/files/jinsebis%20taoba_ENG%2022.pdf

Date: 18:00, Friday, 20 December 2013
Venue: Prospero’s Books, 34 Rustaveli Ave; Tbilisi

*This event is free and open to the public. If you are interested to join, please email: georgia ”at”arisc.org

The reading and discussion language is English. Feel free to join and invite your friends. The Reading group brings Georgian and international scholars together in an informal setting to discuss and explore the literature about Georgia and the South Caucasus.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP: At the Frontiers of Faith: Contact and Conflict in Medieval Icons of Warrior Saint

By Heather Badamo, University of Chicago and CAORC Fellow

Date: December 18, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, 16 Zandukeli St.

During the turbulent era of the Crusades, Christians throughout the eastern Mediterranean embraced devotion to the warrior saints, creatively mobilizing these universal heroes to express the aspirations and assuage the anxieties of local communities. Their devotions fueled the production of countless icons, which circulated across political frontiers, sectarian divides, and the boundaries of the Islamic world. Representing fierce warriors armed for combat – often slaying their enemies – these icons provided familiar models for understanding religious difference that medieval elites could transform to serve as heralds of local power and history. The rich core of icons that survive from medieval Georgia, in particular, provides fertile ground for considering how the types of cultural encounters that took place at the frontier fueled and shaped devotion to these aggressive saints.

Heather Badamo is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Images at the Frontiers of Faith: Warrior Saints in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean, which investigates visual and religious exchange among east Christian and Muslim communities during the era of the Crusades.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP:  Echo in the Periphery: the Change in Government and Local Politics in Georgia

By Giorgi Gotua, Mikheil Svanidze

Date: December 11, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, 16 Zandukeli St.

By 2013, independent Georgia has seen three full political transition cycles, and in October 2012 in a landmark case it saw its first electoral regime change. While the (world) political implications are hard to overstate, the case is of theoretical and perhaps comparative importance internally and regionally as well. The local power groups in the Georgian regions were caught off guard by the change, and have reacted in various ways to the election results. Our initial question therefore concerned the initial knee-jerk reactions and the subsequent regional political processes: how do such changes in the centre, the first of their kind, ripple out to the Georgian periphery? Second, through this reaction we examine the broader question of peripheral politics and their place in theory: can we speak of neopatrimonial structures in Georgia against the backdrop of the oft mentioned “democratization” paradigm? We attempted to look at the case of one Georgian municipality in order to demonstrate the endurance of the patron-client relationship. The present research argues that the neopatrimonial paradigm is relevant for the Georgian case.

Giorgi Gotua is an independent researcher with experience in academic and applied research projects. He studied Political Science and Sociology. Giorgi has worked on issues related to political parties , civil society, ethnic conflicts and international development. He is interested in the politics of development and transition.

Mikheil Svanidze is a PhD candidate at Ilia State University in Tbilisi. He has studied Sociology and Social Anthropology at Tbilisi State University and Central European University. His research interests include political anthropology and political parties, social movements and public spaces in post-socialist states. Methodologically Mikheil positions himself as an anthropologist with extensive qualitative fieldwork expertise. Currently he is working on his PhD thesis on the transformation of formal and informal public spaces in Georgia.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP Social and Political Engagement among Young People in Telavi and Kutaisi

By Tamuna Khoshtaria, Natia Mestvirirshvili, CRRC-Georgia

Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 – 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zanduleli St. 16, Tbilisi

In the framework of the MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement) project, CRRC conducted 60 in-depth interviews with young people in Kutaisi and Telavi. These interviews were conducted shortly after the parliamentary elections and covered topics on the perceptions of history, nationalism and identity, political and social participation, as well as democratization. The key findings in these four aspects of young people’s lives will be presented and discussed.

MYPLACE is a four-year international project employing a combination of survey, in-depth interview and ethnographic research to provide new, pan-European data that not only will measure levels of civil participation of the young people (aged 16 to 25), but also capture the meanings young people attach to it. Furthermore, the project explores how youth participation is shaped by the shadows of totalitarianism and populism in Europe. More information about the project is available on the project website.

Tamuna Khoshtaria is a researcher at CRRC. She holds a BA and MA in Social Sciences from Tbilisi State University. During her MA study she was awarded a scholarship to study at Humboldt University in Berlin, where she spent a year conducting qualitative research in family sociology. Her research interests include social and religious issues as well as intercultural comparisons.

Natia Mestvirishvili is the Regional Research and Outreach Coordinator at CRRC. She earned an M.Sc. in Social Research from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and a M.A. in Global Development and Social Justice from St. John’s University (US). She also holds a diploma in psychology from Tbilisi State University. Since 2012 she is ian nvited lecturer at Tbilisi State University, where she teaches several courses in research methods and psychology.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Ethno-Cultural Mixed Families as Confidence Building Agents for Reconciliation”

By Nino Lotishvili, University of Lugano

Date: November 27, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zanduleli St. 16, Tbilisi

In multiethnic societies, people often put up an imaginary boundary line between self and others that helps to develop a number of stereotypes and prejudice about other ethnic groups. Such a superior perception of self can be well exploited by nationalist leaders to abuse the concept of culture as a differentiator from others, which can constitute an obstacle for the civil integration and can therefore contribute to the social distance between different ethnic groups within the same territory. Such stereotypical attitudes can represent a precondition for mistrust, fear, hatred and xenophobia among the peoples which can be used by political purposes and can therefore be related to intrastate conflicts. The present research aims to suggest a new approach for conflict transformation and reconciliation process through the example of ethno-cultural mixed families, asking what we can learn from the strategies of these successful ethno-cultural mixed families, who stay united within these complex geo-political forces. Can these families act as confidence building agents as a starting point for the peaceful relations? Do their strategies have lessons for the reconciliation process? Qualitative research conducted with Georgian-Ossetian ethno-cultural mixed family members living across the four different Administrative Boundary Line villages, in Gori, and two Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) settlements tested the proposed hypothesis: Following violent armed conflicts between their two ethnicities, the ethno-cultural mixed families that are still united and connected to each other with strong relationship bonds can represent the most “natural bridge” over “hatred, intolerance”, and therefore they can fill the gap in communication between divided communities and be role models for positive change through the reconciliation process.

Nino Lotishvili holds a Master’s degree in Public Management and Policy from the University of Lugano (USI – Università della Svizzera Italiana) with the specialization in Public Communication/Intercultural Communication. She earned a BA Diploma from the Tbilisi University for Language and Culture (Ilia), Georgia, in Pedagogics of Foreign Languages. From 2009 Nino was involved in various activities related to the humanitarian and international development fields, this is why the findings of the research were also presented at 18th Nordic Conference for Therapists and Care-Givers working with traumatized refugees in the session Dealing with Conflict Aftermath/Reconciliation processes in Bergen, Norway. Her research interests include ethnic conflict, peacebuilding, reconciliation, human rights, and international development in former Soviet Republics.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

Reading:  A Russian Journal
by John Steinbeck

Available online at: http://www.e-reading.biz/bookreader.php/1002549/Steinbeck_John_-_A_Russian_Journal.html

Date: 18:00, Friday, 29 November 2013
Venue: Prospero’s Books, 34 Rustaveli Ave; Tbilisi

If you are interested to join, please email: georgia”at”arisc.org. This event is free and open to the public. The reading and discussion language is English. Feel free to join and invite your friends.

Join the Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/178079829055842/?previousaction=join&source=1

Reading group brings Georgian and international scholars together in an informal setting to discuss and explore the literature about Georgia and the South Caucasus

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP: Testing Innovative Approaches to Improving Policy Research – Everywhere

By Hans Gutbrod

Date: November 20, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

How can we use innovative approaches to improve the quality of policy research in Georgia and beyond? How can this be done with impact, at low cost, and ideally contributing to lasting change? Hans will present a project that he is about to launch, sharing what often goes wrong behind the scenes, and discussing trade-offs in making a difference.

Dr Hans Gutbrod used to work with the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) from 2006 to 2012, and thereafter worked with an effort to support policy research organizations in Latin America, Africa and South Asia. He currently does consultancy projects in East Timor and other locations. His research interests focus on how to improve policy research in less developed contexts, and he regularly contributes to the On Think Tanks blog. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: The Politics of Civil Service Reform in Georgia

By Bret Barrowman, The George Washington University

Date: November 13, 2014, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Why are some political elites able to reform corrupt civil service bureaucracies to benefit the public while others or not? This project uses a comparison of Georgia and Ukraine to explore how political systems shape the process of civil service reform. Existing research on public sector corruption has tended to fall into one of two camps—principal-agent approaches, in which corruption is viewed as economic opportunism that bureaucratic managers can reduce with more effective monitoring, sanctioning, and rewarding of subordinates; or patron-client approaches, which tend to view corruption as a political tool through which elites secure political allegiance in highly personalized political systems. The case study of Georgia provides an interesting opportunity to synthesize these approaches because the process of civil service reform has significantly reduced petty corruption while retaining a personalized political system, including a politicized bureaucracy. The author argues that a permissive formal institutional environment after 2003, including a strong institutional presidency, high margins of victory, and long electoral timelines allowed the Saakashvili administration to forgo any political benefits of petty corruption in exchange for public support. Meanwhile, the scope and pace of reforms provided a credible signal to civil servants and potential obstructionists that the administration was willing to repudiate petty corruption as a political tool within its clientelist network. The author will discuss preliminary support for these arguments, and suggest some alternative conceptual frameworks through which we might understand the case of Georgia in the context of cross-national research on public sector reform.

Bret Barrowman is currently conducting dissertation research in Georgia as part of the American Councils Combined Research and Language Training Program. He is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at George Washington University, and is developing a dissertation on public sector corruption and reform in clientelist political systems, with a focus on comparing civil service reform in the Republic of Georgia and Ukraine. His research interests include corruption, political clientelism, political parties, informal institutions, and state-building, with an emphasis on the former Soviet Union. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Studies from Stetson University, and an M.A. in Security Policy Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: A Crisis in the Caucasus: The Implications of the Iranian Nuclear Crisis for Georgia and the South Caucasus

By Sarrah Bechor, IREX IARO Fellow

Date: November 6, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This study will explore the regional implications of the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis for the states of the South Caucasus, and Georgia in particular, and will consider the stakes present for the foreign and national security policies of Georgia, as well as its neighbors, Armenia and Azerbaijan. This study will examine the regional geopolitics and deterrence policy adopted also by friends and adversaries of the South Caucasian states, namely: the United States, Iran, Israel, Europe, and Russia. These lend specific significance to and reiterate the complexity of the divergent stances pursued by Georgia and its neighbors. In this study, of great interest is the potential for the current and eventual trajectory of this crisis to require that Georgia and its neighbors more explicitly define their roles in this context. These questions of their possible roles as well as scenarios of escalation or resolution guide this project and its conclusions as this high-alert crisis situation develops.

Sarrah Bechor is currently in Georgia on a 3-month IARO Fellowship with IREX researching the impact of the Iranian nuclear crisis on Georgian foreign and security policies. She is a recent graduate of the Master’s in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies Program at Georgetown University, where she focused largely on Georgia. Sarrah received her BA degree from the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, where she composed her Honors thesis on the Georgian democratization process. Her professional experience includes time at the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations, the Caucasus Research Resource Centers, the US-Russia Business Council, and work with the filmmaking industry promoting a documentary on human trafficking–among others. Sarrah has presented work at the 2012 Annual Association for the Study of Nationalities World Convention at Columbia University, and will speak to her current research at the upcoming 2013 Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies in Boston.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Orthodox Politics: The Religious Renaissance and its Political Implications in Post-Soviet Georgia

By Mariam Naskidashvili

Date: October 30, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This research examines the rise of the Orthodox religion in post-Soviet Georgia and its political implications. It looks at two major explanations for this religious revival: 1) socio-political condition;s and 2) the ideological vacuum created by the fall of Communism. The research focuses on the emergence of the Georgian Orthodox Church as a key political player and examines the different leverages that the church uses to influence political processes in Georgia. It investigates two major questions: whether the Georgian Orthodox Church is a political actor, and what leverage it uses to influence politics. It looks at the period between 2002—when the Constitutional Agreement between the Georgian Orthodox Church and the state of Georgia was signed—to 2013, examining the Church’s latest involvements in the parliamentary elections. Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews, as well as secondary sources, the thesis argues that the Orthodox Church developed into a key political organization. It demonstrates how the Church drew upon its alliances with various political parties, utilized public support and employed informal methods to influence politics and guarantee a steady income from the state.

Mariam Naskidashvili recently graduated from the University of Oxford with an MSc in Russian and East European Studies with a full scholarship from the Open Society. She also holds an MA degree in Political Science from Leiden University (the Netherlands) with a scholarship from the Development and Reform Foundation. Ms. Naskidashvili has been working with international media organizations such as BBC and France 24 in South Caucasus prior to entering Oxford. She currently works for CARE international in the South Caucasus–an international non-governmental organization that provides humanitarian relief and development work in the region.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Institutions as Straightjackets? Revisiting the Role of NGOs in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes

By Mariella Falkenhain, Hertie School of Governance

Date: October 23, 2013, at 18:15
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Scholars have long assumed that institutions in authoritarian regimes regularly function as effective regime stabilizers as long as power holders correctly evaluate threats and power. Institutions have mainly been conceived as self-enforcing structures that only change at critical junctures and as a result of external shocks. These assumptions have important implications for theorizing on the role of NGOs under authoritarian rule. NGOs are most notably seen as caught in institutional straightjackets; their actual preferences, activities and contributions are regularly left unexplored.

Taking this research gap as a starting point, this talk will present a theoretical framework that focuses on incremental institutional change, and takes agency within institutions seriously. Preliminary empirical results from two case studies – the criminal justice sector and policies on ageing in competitive authoritarian Georgia – will be presented and discussed.

Mariella Falkenhain is PhD candidate in Political Science at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and holder of a doctoral scholarship by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Before joining the Hertie School, she worked as a Research Associate at the Institut für Europäische Politik, a Berlin-based European policy research centre.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: “In God’s Name: How the Post-Soviet Mafia used the Church as a Source of Reputation in Georgia”

By Ana Kvintradze

Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 6:15pm
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a number of actors began engaging in a “power struggle” for opportunities to shape the new order in the successor states. One of these actors was the organized crime groups, united under the trademark name of vory-v-zakone (thieves-in-law), originally a prison fraternity that had significant influence on Georgia in the transition period after the Soviet collapse. As the establishment of reputation is of vital importance for organized crime groups, this research analyzes the case of the post-Soviet mafia in Georgia and its association with the Orthodox Church as its strategy for establishing its reputation. The findings are based on a qualitative in-depth case study and additional data sources, including content analysis of the Church sermons over a 20 year period, official Georgian statistics, and nationwide surveys. The study’s findings suggest that this relationship between the mafia and the Church was reciprocal. Given the authority of the Orthodox Church among the Georgian population, it provided unquestionable credibility to the post-Soviet mafia.

Ana Kvintradze has an MSc in Sociology from the University of Oxford. She received her BA and MA in Sociology from Tbilisi State University and has worked for several years in the social research field in Georgia. Her research interests include post-Soviet transformations, the construction of national identity, collective trauma, and memory in the South Caucasus region.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: “Explaining the Absence of Russian-Georgian Cooperation over North Caucasus Security Threats: Three Hypotheses”

By Levan Kakhishvili

Date: October 9, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

The North Caucasus has been point of contention in Georgian-Russian relations ever since the demise of the Soviet Union. This sub-region has been a source of security threats for the two countries, including trans-border instability rooted in separatism and insurgency that has resulted in violence. Although the North Caucasus is of great shared interest for both countries, they have little experience of cooperation in dealing with threats originating in these unstable autonomous republics. The absence of cooperation over common security threats can be explained through a combination of three theoretical approaches in international relations: neo-realism, regional security complex theory, and a constructivist understanding of sovereignty.

Levan Kakhishvili graduated from St Antony’s College of the University of Oxford with an MSc in Russian and East European Studies. Previously, he received an MSc in the Transformation in the South Caucasus Program and a BSc in International Relations from Tbilisi State University. His research interests include the foreign policy of Russia and the Caucasian countries, peace and conflict studies in Eurasia, as well as democratization in the former Soviet Union.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: “Tobacco Control: Common Challenges and Opportunities across Communities and across Countries”

By Carla J. Berg, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Date: October 2, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Several countries are in the process of implementing tobacco control policies such as smoke-free air policies, increased taxation, regulations on advertising, licensing of tobacco importers and producers, and graphic health warning labels on tobacco products. Interestingly, several countries are facing similar challenges in implementing some of these policies; on the other hand, distinct opportunities have emerged that have allowed certain countries to make unexpected movements toward achieving these tobacco control goals. This talk will highlight the trends in Georgia as well as draw some comparisons with other countries, such as the US.

Dr. Carla J. Berg is Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and in in Georgia as a Visiting Fulbright Professor.

http://www.sph.emory.edu/faculty/CJBERG

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Public Opinion and the May 17th Events in Tbilisi: CRRC Survey Results

By Natia Mestvirishvili, CRRC

Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

In late May and early June of this year, CRRC Georgia conducted a small survey among Georgian-speaking adult residents of Tbilisi regarding the events of May 17th, during which two demonstrations – one for the International Day Against Homophobia and another against homosexuality — ended with the participants of the latter violently overwhelming the participants of the former. For the first time in CRRC’s history, face-to-face interviews were conducted using computer tablets instead of paper questionnaires, resulting in 542 completed interviews through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI).

The survey revealed some interesting paradoxes in the opinions of Tbilisi residents: the majority of Tbilisi residents believe that democracy is preferable to other forms of government and that freedom of speech and tolerance for differing opinions are major components of democracy; at the same time, people seem to be uneasy about differing opinions with regard to the May 17th events.

Natia Mestvirishvili is the Regional Research and Outreach Coordinator at CRRC. She earned an M.Sc. in Social Research from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and a M.A. in Global Development and Social Justice from St. John’s University (US). She also holds a diploma in psychology from Tbilisi State University. Since 2012 she is ian nvited lecturer at Tbilisi State University, where she teaches several courses in research methods and psychology.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Re-writing the Russian Conquest of Central Asia Caucasus

By Dr. Alexander Morrison, University of Liverpool

Date: September 18, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

The conquest of Central Asia by the Russian empire in the 19th century permanently transformed the political destiny of this vast region, ensuring that it would later be subject to the Soviet experiment, and that today it remains culturally and economically oriented towards Russia. The reasons behind this rapid example of European colonial expansion remain poorly-understood by historians: the three dominant narratives are 1) Marxist-Leninist, in which Russian conquered the region at the behest of big capitalists as a captive market for industrial goods and a secure source of raw cotton for the Moscow textile industry; 2) the ‘Great Game’, in which the conquest is no more than an incidental outcome of Russia’s rivalry with Britain and a desire to threaten India; and 3) The ‘accidental’ conquest, in which the ‘men on the spot’ – ambitious Russian officers – got out of control in their search for medals and glory. None of these explanations is wholly satisfactory, and all place Central Asia itself at the margins of the story. This paper will propose a new interpretation, one which focuses on Russia’s relations with Central Asian rulers and people, on reconstructing microhistories of different phases of the conquest, and on the changing self-perceptions of Russia’s ruling elite.

Alexander Morrison is Lecturer in Imperial History at the University of Liverpool, UK. From 2000 – 2007 he was a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where he wrote his doctorate on ‘Russian Rule in Samarkand 1868 – 1910. A Comparison with British India’, which was published under the same title by Oxford University Press in 2008. He is currently writing a history of the Russian Conquest of Central Asia. From January 2014 he will be Professor of History at Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Transformations of Sacred Spaces, Pilgrimages and Conceptions of Hybridity in the Post-Soviet Caucasus

By Dr. Florian Mühlfried, University of Jena

Date: September 11, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Florian Mühlfried teaches in the Caucasus Studies Program at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. Previously, he was a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and a visiting professor at the University of Campinas, Brazil. He is he author of Post-Soviet Feasting: The Georgian Banquet in Transition (2006, in German) and co-edited Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia with Sergey Sokolovskiy (2012).

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Making sense of the empire? Russian imperial representation in the South Caucasus in the 19th century

By Dr. Hubertus Jahn, University Senior Lecturer in Russian History
Clare College, University of Cambridge

Date: September 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This talk comes out of a larger project that investigates the roots of Russian imperial propaganda and identity politics. I am specifically exploring local representations of imperial power in the South Caucasus in the nineteenth century, effectively combining the cultural history of politics with the history of empire, a field that has become particularly vibrant and relevant after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Taking its inspiration from Richard Wortman’s Scenarios of Power, my project looks at various representational forms and projects of the Russian Empire at its southern fringes. I am investigating in a vignette-like fashion such diverse phenomena as royal visits, the building and unveiling of different types of monuments, and the opening ceremonies and internal arrangements of museums and exhibitions in the South Caucasus. I am thus proposing a micro-historical approach to the history of the Russian Empire and its ‘scenarios of power’. All these events presented the empire in some way or other on the local level. They occurred in public spaces such as squares, streets, parks or public buildings like museums, most of which were themselves recent introductions, and thus appealed to the imagination of the local populations, regardless of their social status, ethnic background and religious belief. They allowed these people to make sense of an empire into which they had just been adopted.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

ARISC Presentation: Exceptional Forests: Forest governance and state structure in Georgia

By Jesse Quinn, University of Arizona and ARISC Fellow

Date: 17:00, 7 August 2013
Venue: Georgian Geographic Society, 11 Gudiashvili, Tbilisi. Georgia

For more information, please join our facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/586815434690635/?context=create

Abstract:

The last several decades have seen drastic shifts toward decentralization in systems of managing forested areas around the planet. Such patterns have transferred control of significant areas of land from the hands of states to those of the private sector. This global forest tenure transitionhas involved nearly every continent on the planet, and has only hastened since the fall of many socialist governments across Eurasia. However, as resource governance systems emerge as part of broader political-economic shifts, they shape new relationships among state, society, and relevant stakeholders, as well as with the natural resources themselves. Within this pattern of transition Georgia has some of the most bio-diverse and important forested areas on the planet, a rural population that relies on these forests for fuel and other resources, and a set of forest governance structures that are currently in development. The case of contemporary Georgian forest governance through decentralization demonstrates how democratic institutions may be shaped through state practices, yet complicated by socio-cultural and political histories. Exploring the political, economic and social connections within this process strengthens our understanding of how neoliberal ideologies, state, society, and environmental resources intersect in this post-socialist democratic territory. This ongoing research project draws from more than 30 interviews completed in the summers of 2012 and 2013.  This presentation will briefly review the current state of forest governance in Georgia and the actions of relevant stakeholders involved its development.  Discussion of these directions and their implications will then be complemented by the author’s analysis of how these processes may be contributing to the shape of the transitioning Georgian state.

Jesse Quinn is an American graduate student who has recently completed his MA in geography at the University of Arizona.  He is a 2013 awardee of ARISC Graduate Student Fellowship. He will begin a PhD program in geography at Syracuse University this coming fall.  Having previously spent four years working for National Geographic Television as an associate producer, he plans to combine both his academic and videography skills through future research projects in Georgia and the greater South Caucasus region.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC), and Georgian Geographic Society.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP: Geopolitical Implications of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway

By Rusudan Khotivari, Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis University

Date: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which will be completed in 2014, will have important geopolitical implications for the South Caucasus and Turkey. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, as an alternative to the Trans-Siberian railway, will diminish the dependence of European countries on Russia and will further contribute to the development of a transit corridor between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, thus strengthening the economic and political ties among these countries. The new railway, which passes through Javakheti, Georgia’s southern and mostly Armenian-populated region,, is a source of anxiety between local populations, as it may increase the influence of Tbilisi and Ankara in there. At the same time, it may bring the prosperity to these economically undeveloped southern regions of Georgia and help to relieve ethnic tensions. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars may also contribute to the further marginalization of Armenia in the South Caucasus and deepen its dependence on Georgia and Iran. It may also equally strengthen Turkey’s role as a regional leader and contribute to the freeing of the South Caucasus from Russian political and economic influence.

Rusudan Khotivari is an MA student in Geopolitics at Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis University. She did her BA degree in International Relations at Tbilisi State University and is continuing her studies in Urbanism and Spatial Planning at Paris Marne la Vallée University. Her current work focuses on the geopolitical implications of the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway for the South Caucasus.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – History that Splinters: Education Reform and Memory Politics in Georgia

By Jane Kitaevich, Harvard University

Date: July 24, 2013 at 6:15 PM
VenueL ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Sudden collapse of Communism and uncertainty of the new order brought about renewed fascination with the national history in former Soviet states, as they increasingly turned to their historical past to explain and mold the new present. These historical crusades became a regular feature in regional nation-/state-building processes, sparking greater scholarly interest in memory studies. Much of the research on collective memory formation and identity-building in the post-Soviet space, however, paid disproportionate attention to the role of the state as the main locus of collective memory production through such mechanisms as the legislation on historical memories, public memorials, and history textbooks. The method of qualitative inquiry in this study goes beyond the more limiting analysis of the formal articulations of history by the traditional state institutes alone: instead, in a constructivist vein, the formation of collective memory narratives and the visions of statehood is examined from the ground up in the context of Georgia. The speaker will discuss the analysis of the data derived from extensive interviews with school teachers of history and state actors, as well as content analysis of 9 textbooks, 100+ speeches, and official curriculum plan, suggesting that societal views of history, as represented by teachers’ narratives, are noticeably divided along the generational cleavage lines, forming 4 distinct categories of narratives that respond to and often contest the state-generated discourse, while informing the visions of statehood of the members of polity. The presentation will also touch on the splintering of narratives and the lack of space for “communicative action” between them, connecting these findings to the literature on the relationship between democracy-building and the nature of memory politics on the ground.

Jane Kitaevich is a graduate student at Harvard University, where she is a graduate student affiliate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Her current research projects include a study of the conceptualization and institutionalization of collective historical memories in a comparative context, by focusing on the case studies of Estonia and Georgia, which she explores as a visiting scholar at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Center for EU-Russia Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. She previously served as a Junior Fellow for the Russia-Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., where she researched politics and economies of the FSU. Jane’s research interests include nation-building/state-building, collective memory, conflict resolution, separatism, religion and society, political psychology, social networks, politics of citizenship, and civil society.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Erik Scott: Georgian Bolsheviks and the Making of the Multiethnic Soviet Empire

By Erik Scott, University of Kansas

Date: July 17, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

The “Russian Revolution” was made mainly by non-Russians and revolutionary ferment was often greatest among groups for whom class revolution and national revolution coincided. Accordingly, many Georgian Bolsheviks eagerly joined in the construction of a multiethnic Soviet state on the territory of the old Russian Empire. Their presence in prominent political positions was striking: Sergo Ordzhonikidze supervised the massive industrialization drive as Commissar of Heavy Industry, Avel Enukidze headed the powerful Presidium of the Central Executive Committee and, of course, Joseph Stalin (Dzhughashvili) was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. While these figures are well known, their relationship to each other, and to their native Georgia, has been less studied. By examining letters, diaries, and memoirs, this talk will bring to light the so-called “Caucasian group” that came to power in the 1920s and 1930s. It will explore what held this group together, how they saw themselves, and how they were seen by others. In so doing, it will consider what made Georgian political networks different and in some ways more effective than those of other groups competing for power in the early Soviet Union. Finally, it will look at the relationship between Georgian political dominance and the dissemination of Georgian culture throughout the Soviet Union.

Erik Scott is Assistant Professor of Russian and Soviet history at the University of Kansas. He is currently completing a book manuscript exploring the evolution of the multiethnic Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991 as viewed from the perspective of its internal Georgian diaspora. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and was the Post-Doctoral Fellow in Caucasian and Central Asian Affairs at Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies from 2011 to 2012 and a Title VIII Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute in 2012.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

ARISC Presentation: The Samtavro Cemetery of Caucasian Iberia: Recent Research

by Aleksandra Michalewicz, the University of Melbourne, Australia

Date: 24 July, 2013, 17:00
Venue: Science Café, Georgian National Museum, 3 Rustaveli avenue, Tbilisi, Georgia.

The Samtavro cemetery is unique in the Caucasus owing to its size and prolonged usage. Situated in ancient (and modern) Mtskheta, Georgia, it was used as a burial ground throughout the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, and then in the Roman to late Antique periods. This presentation will give an overview of the later phase of burials, focusing on tomb architecture and grave assemblages. Data has been collected for over 1000 tombs and almost 2000 artefacts, excavated during Soviet and post-Soviet excavations. The project has amassed one of the largest collections of data for a late Antique cemetery, achieved via generous access to archives and material culture held by the Georgian National Museum.

In antiquity, Mtskheta was the capital of the Iberian kingdom, and although there are contemporaneous elite cemeteries within close proximity, Samtavro with its extensive albeit modest burials offers a more precise picture of the region’s population and customs. The talk will outline the methodology utilised in studying the cemetery, and present preliminary results. This research seeks to address questions regarding Iberian mortuary ritual, identity and cultural interactions from the 1st to the 8th centuries. Samtavro offers a unique opportunity to study a significant cemetery, and a broad-scale study of this site can help us to understand better the cultural features and development of Iberia.

Aleksandra Michalewicz is a final year PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, under the supervision of Professor Antonio Sagona. Her dissertation research examines the mortuary ritual at the Samtavro cemetery of Caucasian Iberia. She has been excavating in Georgia since 2008 with Georgian–Australian Investigations in Archaeology, an interdisciplinary and collaborative project run by the Georgian National Museum and the University of Melbourne, and funded by the Australian Research Council. In 2013 she will also be joining excavations at Troia, Turkey.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC), and Science Café.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP: Political and Theological Aspects of the May 17, 2013 Events

By Paul Crego, U.S. Library of Congress

Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) invites you to a Reading Group in Tbilisi!

Reading:  “Sultanetta” by Alexandre Dumas

Available online at: http://booksnow2.scholarsportal.info/ebooks/oca3/23/talesofcaucasusb00dumauoft/talesofcaucasusb00dumauoft_bw.pdf

Date: 18:30, 11 July 2013
Venue: literature café “Ligamus”, Ilia State University, 32 Chavchavadze Avenue

This event is free and open to the public. If you are interested to join, please email: georgia”at”arisc.org

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran

WiP – The Last Master: Georgian Orthodoxy and the Oral Chant Tradition

By John A. Graham, Princeton University

Date: July 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

In 1966, just one year before he would die at the age of eighty, Artem Erkomaishvili recorded 108 polyphonic chants of the Georgian Orthodox liturgy. He did so at the invitation of the well-known Tbilisi Conservatory professor, Kakhi Rosebashvili, who used cassette-tape playback technology to record him singing all three voice parts. At the time, he admitted knowing 2500 chants by heart, with the assistance of his notebook of texts. But no other singers were available to take part in the historic recording session as Erkomaishvili was the last one alive who knew the intricacies of this semi-improvised, complex repertory. When he died in 1967, many secrets of his vast knowledge, passed down for centuries through oral transmission, vanished with him.

In an effort to recreate the precepts that guided the transmission and practice of chant in the oral tradition, this presentation offers critical perspectives on the corpus of priceless sources from Erkomaishvili’s archive, including the 1966 recordings, rare video footage and photographs, and samples from his personal journal of chant texts. His life and work are presented in the broader context of the decline of Georgian ecclesiastical arts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the suppression of traditional chant performance in the early decades of Bolshevik rule. Little known until recently, the modern resurgence of the Orthodox Church and traditional chant has lionized his life achievement as the most recent greatest living master.

John A. Graham is a Ph.D. candidate in the Musicology Department at Princeton University. His work focuses on the oral transmission of Georgian liturgical chant, and the large number of transcriptions collected at the end of the nineteenth century. A dynamic teacher, John combines his choral directing experience with a strong love for Georgian music to create interactive and informative workshop learning environments. The joy of singing Georgian music is infectious in John’s well-paced workshops, as a centuries old singing tradition comes to sound

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – The Radical Reproduction of Transitions in Georgia since Independence

By Zviad Diasamidze, Tbilisi State University, Dustin Gilbreath, Heinrich Böll Stiftung

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

The presentation argues that Georgia, since independence, has undergone the reproduction of radical transitions whereby a critical mass of opposition is formed politically and socially, a consolidating event then occurs which is shortly followed by a transition of authority. Once a new authority gains de jure recognition of power it then goes about a process of state capture that aims to consolidate and personalize its hold through changes to institutional design and legislative procedures. These processes further set in motion a process wherein as a regime is consolidated it is simultaneously isolated through its marginalization and exclusion of elites and non-elites alike. This causes opposition to spring up in society once again and the diffusion of support for opposition parties is given impetus from the back drop of a consistently weak economic state of affairs in the country despite improvements during various regimes. Upon the appearance of both a viable opposition and the occurrence of a consolidating event a transition is then again born.

Zviad Diasamidze is a doctoral student at Tbilisi State University in the Political Science Department and is currently studying under Professor Korneli Kakachia. He graduated from Munich University with a master’s degree in political science. His master’s thesis dealt with issues of transformation processes in Georgia.

Dustin Gilbreath has worked in Georgia for the past several years and is applying to graduate programs in social and cultural anthropology. He has worked on various academic projects with Heinrich Boll Stiftung’s South Caucasus Office, The Tbilisi Economics and Statistics Institute, and most recently has been a research assistant under Tamta Khalvashi for her PhD dissertation in socio-cultral anthropology related to temporality and materiality in Batumi.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Constitutional Design and Democracy: Georgia in Comparative Perspective

By Henry E. Hale, George Washington University

Date: June 19, 2013, at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi

The speaker will present findings from a comparative analysis of how constitutions function in what he calls “patronalistic” countries, where ideology and the rule of law are weak and politics tends instead to revolve strongly around extended personal networks. In such conditions, characteristic of most of the former communist world, comparative experience shows that presidentialist constitutions tend almost always to “regime cycles”: periods of growing political closure that can be regularly interrupted by revolution. Pure parliamentarism has not proven much better. More promising, but also fraught with some danger, may be a “divided-executive” constitution such as Georgia’s new constitution. Other postcommunist cases of divided-executive constitutions will be discussed and the experience related to Georgia’s current situation.

Henry E. Hale (PhD, Political Science, Harvard 1998) is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He is the author of the books Why Not Parties in Russia? Democracy, Federalism and the State (Cambridge, 2006), a winner of the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award for 2006-07, and The Foundations of Ethnic Politics: Separatism of States and Nations in Eurasia and Beyond (Cambridge, 2008). His current projects include a book manuscript in progress, Great Expectations: Patronal Politics and Regime Dynamics in Eurasia, as well as others books and articles on political party development, Russian politics, and ethnic politics. He co-directs the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia) and served as director of the Elliott School’s Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies during 2009-12.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: The Jury Trial as Legal Translation: The Case of Georgia

By Anna Dolidze, University of Western Ontario

Date: June 12, 2013, at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi

Abstract: This project contributes to the scholarship on the global diffusion of jury trials by focusing on the recent revival of jury trials in Republic of Georgia. Surveying the scholarly debates over the phenomenon of legal transplants, this project argues that the adoption of jury trials in Georgia is more accurately captured by the metaphor of legal translation. The project departs from existing accounts that center on historical waves of global diffusion of jury trials. Rather than belonging to a particular “wave” of diffusion, jury trials in Georgia are an amalgamation of customary traditions of lay participation, a revival of jury trials from the beginning of 20th century, and recent criminal law reform efforts. Georgia’s relations with Russia as a part of the Russian empire also played a significant role. The project offers a sociopolitical and historical account of the emergence of jury trials in Georgia, arguing that the establishment of jury trials in Georgia should be understood as a part of larger internal and external sociopolitical trends in the country.

Anna Dolidze (LLB TSU, LLM Leiden, JSD Cornell) is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests are in international law, comparative law and law and development. She has published in international law journals, peer-reviewed publications and collected volumes, and has authored a number of policy reports, including reports for the United Nations Development Program and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Most recently, Dolidze co-authored a report by the Transatlantic Academy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, entitled “The Democratic Disconnect: Citizenship and Accountability in the Transatlantic Community.”

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Roundtable on Language Purity and Language Policing

With the participation of Dr. Thomas Wier, Dr. Tinatin Bolkvadze, Neal Zupancic, and Nicholas Drozd, and moderated by Dr. Timothy Blauvelt.

Date: June 5, 2013, at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi

Why do languages borrow from other languages? Is this phenomenon harmful to smaller languages like Georgian? Is it inevitable? How does it reflect on the “health” of a language? How effective can state institutions or policy or society be in “policing” language and preserving a form of “language purity”? Come and take part in the discussion!

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) invites you to a Reading Group in Tbilisi!

Topic of Discussion: Caucasus in Russian Literature

Reading:  A Hero of Our Times, by Mikhail Lermontov

(material is available at: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/lermontov/mikhail/l61h/book1.html )

Date: 18:30, 10 June 2013
Venue : literature café “Ligamus”, Ilia State University, 32 Chavchavadze Avenue

This event is free and open to the public. If you are interested to join, please email: Georgia “at” arisc.org

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran

WiP – Addressing Past Injustices: How to Deal with Georgia’s Painful Past?

By Medea Turashvili, ARISC

Date: May 29, 2013 at 6:15pm
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, GEORGIA

The past is the most disputed aspect of Georgia’s conflicts, yet the most overlooked one as a tool of conciliation. The aim of this research project is to explore “Dealing with Past” (DwP) mechanisms relevant for the Georgian-Abkhazian context by mapping groups which have suffered as a result of the conflict, the losses and violations they have experienced, and the available options to restore justice. The author seeks to explore how DwP mechanisms can contribute to conflict transformation in the short and medium terms.

Medea Turashvili is an analyst and researcher focusing on conflicts, human rights and security issues. Currently she is the ARISC Resident Director for Georgia. She previously worked for International Crisis Group and the European Centre for Minority Issues. She is also a board member of the Georgian Political Science Association. Medea holds an MA in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from Utrecht University, Netherlands (2008). This research project was made possible by the support of Conciliation Resources (UK).

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Mediocracy or Politocracy? The Case of Social Media in Georgia

By Lia Tsuladze, Tbilisi State University

Date: May 22, 2013 – 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

This project describes how the fields of politics and social media intertwine in Georgia, and raises the question of whether politics governs the media or the media govern politics in the Georgian reality.

It is often conjectured that given the current social media boom and the accompanying emergence of citizen journalism, social media possess a real potential to influence politics. Moreover, scholars speak of the epoch of Mediocracy that is the “colonization of politics by the logic of the media” (Meyer, 2002). It is also suggested that the media, and especially social media, have become such an important agent in political games that we are experiencing a “rationalization of persuasion” (Mayhew, 1997), implying that political actors try to find and utilize effective means of persuasion using the media.

But what is the situation in Georgia? Based on in-depth interviews with media-experts in Georgia, it appears that here we encounter a colonization of the media, including the social media, by politics and not the other way around. However, this colonization is accomplished not in an aggressive way, such as through direct censorship, but rather in a “soft” manner, such as through co-opting bloggers. One oft-cited example is the organization of informal meetings with bloggers by the prime-minister or other government ministers. As a result, it seems that after such meetings politicians divide cyber space in two camps: “ours” and “theirs,” inviting the “friendly” bloggers to subsequent meetings to write indulgent rather than critical posts for their readers.

In this context, the concept of “media-framing” (based on E. Goffman’s conceptualization) becomes crucial, as it highlights how the media, in this case social media, represent politics and how politicians respond to it. Based on media-experts’ evaluations, in Georgia the politicians use their power to prevent social media from moving from the “front region” to the “back region” (Goffman, 1955), which appears to be one of the ways in which the interaction of politics and media in Georgia differs from that in Western democracies.

Lia Tsuladze is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of Tbilisi State University. She is Director of the Program of Applied Social Research at the Center for Social Sciences (CSS). Her research interest involves youth culture in modern Georgia, focusing on the construction of youth identities in the context of “glocalization.” Her recent comparative research (supported by the Volkswagen Foundation and New Europe College) deals with youth perceptions of Westernization-Europeanization in the New European countries (the cases of Romania and Poland) and the margins of Europe (the case of Georgia). Currently she is leading a project on social media development trends in Georgia supported by the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN), in the context of which the present research project has been undertaken.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – The Impact of the Aid Wind-Fall on Political Regime Dynamics in Post-War Georgia

By Levan Tsutskiridze, Center for Social Sciences

Date: May 15 2013, 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16

This project will investigate the impact of foreign aid that was pledged by international donors after the 2008 conflict with Russia. While the literature examines both economic and political implications of increased aid inflows, this project will focus on effects on the latter: the political regime in Georgia.

Since independence, the country was a regular recipient of the Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2008, however, the amount of aid more than doubled that received during the previous years. The reason was the conflict with Russia. International donors pledged over 4.5 billion USD to support development and post-conflict recovery. This money was distributed over 5 years. Therefore, from 379 million USD in 2007, the amount of aid money increased to about 887 million USD in 2008, and to 907 million USD in 2009. Throughout the following years, it remained higher than in the pre-conflict period, but lower than in the 2008-9. Therefore, these two years will be crucial for this research project.

Concern over the high amount of aid flows and additional wind-falls of aid was expressed by various critics. They point to sub-Saharan Africa and other aid-dependent countries, and argue that due to its high share in countries’ economies, low-income countries are not able to absorb such aid. Therefore, by analyzing panel data from those countries, they point out the negative impact of aid on the developmental outcomes and question the very essence of the aid – its effectiveness. Elliot Berg, for example, suggested that aid begins to have negative effects on local institutions when aid flows reach 5 percent of GDP, which would mean that in 2008 (7%), 2009 (8.5%) and 2010 (5.5%) Georgia crossed this threshold.

On the other hand, proponents of the foreign assistance acknowledge these problems and suggest dealing with them through ‘conditionality’ and ‘selectivity’.

This research project will challenge these views by analyzing Georgia’s national data on the macro level in order to try to show that there was neither positive nor negative impact on political regime development. On the other hand, it will also suggest that the aid helped the government to maintain power.

Levan Tsutskiridze is an MA student at the Tbilisi State University in the Transformation in the South Caucasus program that is administered by the Center for Social Sciences.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) invites you to a Reading Group in Tbilisi!

Reading: Ali and Nino: A Love Story by Qurban Said (available in bookstores)
Topic of Discussion: East-West Dilemma: Foreign Policy attitudes in the South Caucasus

Date: Thursday, 18:30, 16 May 2013
Venue: literature café “Ligamus”, Ilia State University, 32 Chavchavadze Avenue.

Additional sources:
Tom Reiss, The Man From the East, The New Yorker, 4 October 1999.
 Thomas de Waal, The lightness of history in the Caucasus, Open Democracy ,4 November 2010.
“Georgia’s unhappy history, Divided loyalties”, Economist interview with Donald Rayfield.

*This event is free and open to the public. If you are interested to join, please email: Georgia “at” arisc.org

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran

WiP: Openness in State Universities in Georgia

By Tamar Iakobidze, IDFI

Date: May 8, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This talk presents an overview of openness of the Georgian state universities based on extensive use of public information requests (submitted in 2010-2013) within the framework of the “Public Information Database” project funded by the Open Society Institute. The changed legal status of some state universities and implications of this for the autonomy and openness of universities will also be touched upon. Further, some comparative insights will be drawn from the international experience.

Tamar Iakobidze has been an analyst at IDFI since September 2011. She holds a BA in Political Science from Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (2010) and an MSc in Policy Studies from the University of Edinburgh (2011)

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – The Informal Post-Socialist Economy

By Abel Polese, Tallinn University

Date: May 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

The main goal of the research is to demonstrate the significance and dynamics of informal economic practices in post-socialist spaces, not only as survival strategies but also as phenomena that persist and outlive economic transition. It does so by comparing case studies from different categories of people in a wide range of post-socialist realities.

Most accounts of informality, from a variety of scholarly traditions, are based on exclusive explorations of ‘losers of transitions’, assuming that this is a phenomenon restricted to lower-income segments of society and adding to the literature on ‘survival strategies’. Such accounts often meet and merge with the vast literature on corruption to either see informal economic practices as an evil to eradicate, or alternatively, in an effort to advocate the existence of several contextual moralities, they tend to adopt a double standard: whilst justifying the survival strategy adopted by the ‘losers of transition’, who need informal transactions to survive, they condemn similar actions performed by ‘winners of transitions’, who use them to accumulate wealth and influence, sometimes on an unimaginable scale.

Our findings challenge the view that informal economic practices relate solely to poverty/economic status. Whilst the way informal practices are performed, produced and maintained may depend on the economic status of a country, they also reflect phenomena that cannot be grasped through an exclusively economic or rational actor/individualist approach. In this respect we argue, and our case studies demonstrate, that informal practices are also expressive of sociality embedded in a given context and alternative ways of engaging with the production of the political by strata of the population that may be excluded from core political processes. Such practices could express a desire to participate in economic processes but also to make up for the lack of attention a state has devoted to social issues and self-realisation of its citizens.

A key innovative feature of the project book is the use of ‘composite informants’ throughout the whole volume. The informant for each chapter has been constructed from the material collected during years of fieldwork from many informants. Alternatively, it is a real informant that the author has deemed representative of a category and the comparison with other people or similar categories will be presented in a way that is more immediate, vivid and compelling than in traditional ethnographic accounts.

Abel POLESE (PhD – ULB, MA – College of Europe, BA Naples) is senior research fellow at the Institute of Governance of Tallinn University and guest professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest. Prior to this endorsement he has been research fellow in the University of Edinburgh (2008-2011), Dresden (2006-2008) and Odessa (2003-2006). He has published extensively on social protests in Eastern Europe and the former USSR and is currently researching the links between the so-called Colour Revolutions and the Arab Spring. He is co-editor in chief of Studies of Transition States and Societies, a journal focusing on former USSR spaces and indexed in SCOPUS. His most recent publications include: Informal Economies in Post-Socialist Spaces: Actors and Dynamics (London and New York: Routledge, 2013, with J. Morris); The Colour Revolutions in the Former Soviet Union: Successes and Failures, London and New York: Routledge, 2010 (with D. Ó Beacháin)

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – From War to Conflict and Back: Borderland Violence in ‘Post-Conflict’ Abkhazia

By Anastasia Shesterinina, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia (Canada)

Date: April 24, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Abstract: In the two decades following the termination of the 1992-93 Georgian-Abkhaz war, what emerged as the border area between Georgia and Abkhazia as a result of the war has been characterized by multiple, diverse forms of post-war political violence. This area stretching from the heights of the Caucasus Mountains to the Black Sea along the Inguri River – a natural line that separates the Georgian- and Abkhaz-controlled territories – was relatively peaceful before the war and was barely touched during the months of the war. As the war ended, however, it became the epicenter of organized collective political violence in Abkhazia, including a protracted period of clashes and continuous low-level guerilla activity and warlordism, or “nut racket,” in the lowlands of the Gali region and repeated episodes of fighting with heavy weaponry in the highlands of the Kodori Gorge.

This puzzling, but yet poorly understood post-conflict situation raises a number of critical questions about the nature and the dynamics of post-war political violence in territorial conflicts. Why has post-war violence continued predominantly in the border area, taken the particular forms that we observe, and not receded with time and efforts to halt it? Most importantly, what social structures underlie the processes of post-war violence?

This paper focuses on the post-war political violence situation in Abkhazia immediately following the 1992-93 war. Drawing on a variety of sources, I argue that the borderland post-war violence reflects the localized continuation of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict by violent means. This violence is facilitated by the complex, embedded social structure established as a result of the war among the key groups of actors engaged in the area. The local population on the Abkhaz side of the Inguri, in Gali, and the displaced persons on the Georgian side, in Zugdidi, are positioned “between two fires” – the Abkhaz forces and the Georgian armed groups present at the border. This positioning allows both armed factions to variously involve the local population in the violence and prolong the conflict.

Anastasia Shesterinina is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Political Science and Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Canada. She specializes in international relations and comparative politics. Her fieldwork-based doctoral dissertation research explores the patterns of organized collective political violence in the “post-conflict” case of Abkhazia, a breakaway territory of Georgia. Anastasia has presented her work at major political science conferences in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, the Security and Defence Forum Program, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group 

Making the Georgian Nation

Reading: Ilia Chavchavadze: “Notes of a Journey from Vladikavkaz to Tiflis” AND “Is That a Man?!”
(Text available at: http://www.nplg.gov.ge/dlibrary/collect/0001/000099/Ilia%20works.pdf)

Date: April 12 2013 at 17:00
Venue: Literature café “Ligamus”, Ilia State University, 32 Chavchavadze Avenue.

This event is free and open to the public and made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. If you are interested to join, please email: georgia”at”arisc.org

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP: Benchmarking the Workforce Development System in Georgia

By Ana Diakonidze, Tbilisi State University

Date: April 10, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Abstract: This study, commissioned by the World Bank, assesses how existing policies and institutions in Georgia contribute to Workforce Development (WfD). This is one the several policy domains under the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative of the World Bank’s Human Development Network (HDN), the objective of which is to create tools and resources for benchmarking the performance of the education and training system in generating skills demanded by employers.

The study elaborates on the strenghts and weaknesses of Georgia’s workforce development system, opening the floor for further discussion of its improvement.

This research is based on extensive document review and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. government representatives, training providers, employers associations and independent experts).

Ana Diakonidze is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Tbilisi State University (TSU). Currently her research interests focus on the external and internal determinants of Active Labor Market Policy development in Georgia. Her recent publications assess the socio-economic conditions of IDPs. Ana teaches social policy and sociology at TSU and the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs as an adjunct lecturer.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Coverage of Political Subjects in the News: Major Findings of Television Monitoring during the 2012 Parliamentary Elections

By Mariam Kobaladze , CRRC

Date: April 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This presentation aims to reflect on the coverage of political subjects in television news before and after the parliamentary elections of 2012. The presentation is based on a 7-month monitoring project funded by UNDP. This project covered the main news programs of seven television channels (GPB Channel 1, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Kavkasia, Maestro, Channel 9, and Real TV) from May 11 to November 30 2012, and shows the polarization of the Georgian media during this period.

Mariam Kobaladze is a researcher at CRRC. She has been working on media monitoring projects since 2010.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Elections in de facto states: Abkhazia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh

By Dr. Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Dublin City University

Date: March 27, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

While the post-Soviet space contains many states that fix elections, recent elections in de facto states (2011-12) have been noteworthy for the fact that voters and analysts could not with certainty predict the outcome. Moreover, unlike many of the successor states of the USSR, Abkhazia and Transnistria have already witnessed a post-election transfer of power from government to opposition. In the small but increasing literature on de facto states the post-Soviet unrecognised states are usually examined exclusively in the realm of conflictology, international relations or geopolitics. Assessments or analyses of elections are virtually non-existent.

This presentation charts the development of electoral politics in post-Soviet unrecognised or partially recognised de facto states, namely Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. In particular, it examines presidential elections in Abkhazia (August 2011), Transnistria (December 2011) and Nagorno-Karabakh (July 2012) with a complementary focus on parliamentary elections in Abkhazia (2012). This research provides an assessment of the dynamics of electoral politics within these three unrecognised or partially recognised post-Soviet states.

The analysis is framed by scores of interviews conducted within Abkhazia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh during repeated visits throughout 2011-2012 as well as in those states from which they have separated. The presentation benefits from two major research grants awarded to Dr Ó Beacháin. During 2011-12 he was a recipient of an 18 month major research grant from the IRCHSS and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Conflict Resolution Unit to lead a research team to examine the role of the OSCE and EU in the post-Soviet protracted conflicts. In January 2012 Dr Ó Beacháin received an additional commission from the IRCHSS/Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct field research in Abkhazia and Transnistria and write two reports evaluating electoral politics in these two unrecognised states.

Donnacha Ó Beacháin is a faculty member of the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, where he lectures on post-Soviet politics and Irish foreign policy. Recent and forthcoming books include The Colour Revolutions in the Former Soviet Republics: Successes and Failures (co-editor, Routledge, 2010), Destiny of the Soldiers: Fianna Fáil, Irish Republicanism and the IRA, (Gill and Macmillan, 2011), Life in Post-Communist Eastern Europe after EU Membership (co-editor, Routledge, 2012), Political Communication in Ireland (co-editor, Liverpool University Press) and The Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Conflict: The Politics of Partition (Manchester University Press)

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: The Structure of Georgian Blogosphere and Implications for Information Diffusion

By Koba Turmanidze, Zakaria Babutsidze, Tengiz Lomitashvili

Date: March 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

The objectives of this ASCN funded project are to take a first look at the Georgian blogosphere and social networks in order to identify the key players and to assess the limits of their capacity to diffuse information and influence people’s opinion on important issues. Two data collection efforts resulted in a rich dataset on the Georgian blogosphere. Using this dataset, the structure of the Georgian blogosphere and its evolution over time was analyzed, and it appears that the Georgian blogosphere is hindered by its dense core and sparse periphery.

Team leader Koba Turmanidze is Director of CRRC Georgia. Koba earned an MPA from the American University (Washington, DC) and an M.A. in Political Science from Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). He also holds a diploma in history from Tbilisi State University. Since 2005 he has held the position of Assistant Professor at Tbilisi State University, where he has taught economies in transition, research methods and network analysis courses in the Department of Political Science and the Center for Social Sciences.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP: Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Urban Areas of Georgia – A New Way of Spatial Segregation? 

By Prof. Joseph Salukvadze and David Sichinava (Tbilisi State University)

Date: March 13, 2013 at 6.15pm
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli st. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

This presentation aims to shed light on the impact of the state program of resettlement on the lives of the IDP population in Georgia and its effects on the integration of IDPs into the mainstream urban society of the country. The proposed hypothesis suggests that the artificial spatial clustering of the newly created IDP settlements, along with the collective centers created earlier, has negative consequences on the level of integration of the relocated populations. The analysis is based on data gathered in the framework of a research project entitled “Coping with marginality – can IDP communities successfully integrate into mainstream urban societies in Georgia?”, launched by the Department of Human Geography of Tbilisi State University and supported and financed by the Academic Swiss Caucasus Network (ASCN).

Joseph Salukvadze is a full professor at Tbilisi State University. David Sichinava works for CRRC as a GIS and database analyst and is a PhD candidate at the Department of Human Geography at Tbilisi State University.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – The Role of the Orthodox Church in the formation of the Georgian Identity

By Tatia Kekelia, Elene Gavashelishvili, Kote Ladaria and Irene Sulkhanishvili, Ilia State University

Date: March 6, 2013 – 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

A team of four PhD students from Ilia state University, supervised by Professor Sergo Ratiani, implemented a research project in the framework of a joint grant from Ilia State University and the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN). The research took place during the period of September 2010 – September 2012. The outcome of the project is a book entitled The Role of the Orthodox Church in the formation of Georgian Identity (with a special focus on the processes taking place in the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st ). The authors try to objectively describe the state of the social institutions, while emphasizing the challenges facing these institutions today.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

WiP – Evolving Perceptions of the West in the Societies of the South Caucasus States

By Giorgi Mchedlishvili, The University of Georgia

Date: February 27, 2013 – 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

In this talk Giorgi will briefly consider the main strands and aspects of Western engagement in the South Caucasus, comparing the individual three republics. He will explore how the very concept of the “West” has been evolving in the course of the past two decades. His main goal, however, will be studying the dynamics of the attitude towards the Western actors on the part of the societies in the three South Caucasian states.

George Mchedlishvili has a PhD in World History from Tbilisi State University and a Masters of Education from Harvard University. He is Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Georgia, and also lectures at the Center for Social Sciences at Tbilisi State University. He has also worked in the Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from June 2013 will be a fellow of Chatham House in London.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

A Georgian Prince at Cambridge? The strange story of Michael Grousinsky

http://www.batsav.com/pages/a-georgian-prince-at-cambridge-the-strange-story-of-michael-grousinsky.html

Date: 24 February Monday 6:20 pm
Venue: Literature Café Ligamus, Ilia State University,
Chavchavadze ave. 32, Tbilisi, Georgia

This event is free and open to the public and made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. If you are interested to join, please email: georgia”at”arisc.org.

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

WiP – A New Chance for Georgian Democracy?

Charles Fairbanks,  Ilia State University and the Hudson Institute

Date: February 20, 2013 – 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

Charles H. Fairbanks Jr. is a Professor at Ilia State University in Tbilisi and a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute. He was previously a research professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins/SAIS and a director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.  He has served as a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of State and member of the department’s policy planning staff.  He was a foreign policy adviser to the Reagan campaign in 1980 and the Bush campaign in 1988. Fairbanks has served on the political science faculty of both Yale University and the University of Toronto.

This talk will be based on Prof. Fairbanks’ recent article in the Journal of Democracy on the Georgian Parliamentary Elections in October 2012: http://www.journalofdemocracy.org/article/new-chance-georgian-democracy

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Reading Group in Tbilisi

Anything Can Happen By George and Helen Papashvily

For the description of the book see: http://www.batsav.com/pages/a-georgian-prince-at-cambridge-the-strange-story-of-michael-grousinsky.html

Three chapters from this book will be discussed: The First Day , The Sound of Home and To Be Happy Married
DOWNLOAD : http://www.unz.org/Author/PapashvilyGeorge

Date: 18 February, 2013, 6:20 pm
Venue: Literature Café Ligamus, Ilia State University, Chavchavadze ave. 32, Tbilisi, Georgia

This event is free and open to the public and made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education. If you are interested to join, please email: georgia”at”arisc.org

ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran

WiP – Endurance of the Soviet Imperial Tongue: The Russian Language in Contemporary Georgia

By Timothy Blauvelt

Date: February 6, 2013, 6:15 PM
Venue: ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, Georgia

A summary of the author’s forthcoming article in Central Asian Survey, this project examines the role of the Russian language on the periphery of the post-Soviet space using multiple sources of data, including original matched-guise experiments, to examine the language situation in contemporary Georgia. Among the former Soviet republics, Georgia is one in which the use of the titular language was most intensively institutionalized and that most ardently resisted Russification, and one that today for various reasons has been most eager to escape the legacy of its Soviet past and to embed itself in the global community. In Georgia the cultural and political influence of the former imperial center has been greatly reduced, and Russian has been challenged in functional roles by the new international lingua franca of English. The direction that the Russian language takes in a place like Georgia may be a useful bellwether for such transformations elsewhere in the post-Soviet periphery.

Timothy Blauvelt is Country Director in Georgia for American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS and is also Associate Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Ilia State University.

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W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

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