Decolonizing Democracy in the South Caucasus: The Imperial Roots of Participatory Politics in Armenia and Georgia

Speaker: Dr. Anna Ohanyan, Richard B. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of International Relations, Stonehill College, Massachusetts, ARISC Fellow

Date & Time: Monday, June 3, 2024, at 11am Yerevan/Tbilisi time

The talk will take place in hybrid format:

Address: Yerevan: 1 Alex Manoogian, Yerevan State University, Faculty of International Relations, main entrance of YSU, 5th floor, N503 hall of the Library


(Registration required)

There is growing global scholarship on the historical roots of contemporary democratic politics. With this as a backdrop, this research introduces the imperial lens to contemporary studies of democratization. It highlights the structural factors for contemporary democratic transitions in the South Caucasus, with historical legacies in the region as central among them. The contemporary theories of democratization tend to draw predominantly from the West European experience, which are predicated on the primacy of statehood and law and order, followed by democratization of these polities over centuries. In the cases of contemporary small states, particularly within the post-Communist settings, state-building and attempted democratic transitions have been unfolding concurrently. The imperial lens introduced here shows that democratic muscles in states like Armenia and Georgia pre-dated their experiences of statehood. The imperial lens to democratization theories, in the context of the post-Communist South Caucasus, underscores and theorizes the significance of pre-Soviet political cultures in these regions and sketches few mechanisms by which such political cultures may be reverberating in contemporary South Caucasus.

Dr. Anna Ohanyan is the Richard B. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of International Relations at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, USA, and a nonresident Senior Scholar in the Russia and Eurasia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington, D.C. She is an author/editor/co-editor of five books. Her latest book is “The Neighborhood Effect: The Imperial Roots of Regional Fracture in Eurasia”, published in 2022 by Stanford University Press.

Funding for this fellowship is provided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) through a grant to the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC). This event is sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). The lectures are free and open to the public. Learn more at

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