Lecture: “Narratives of Decline and Revival of Handicrafts in the South Caucasus, 1900-1930”

On April 19, 2023, at 7 pm Tbilisi time, the biweekly research colloquium of the Institute for Social and Cultural Research at Ilia State University will host Sohee Ryuk who will present about “Narratives of Decline and Revival of Handicrafts in the South Caucasus, 1900-1930.”


The end of the nineteenth century saw increased interest in documenting and understanding local handicrafts of the South Caucasus. Handicrafts in this context was understood as part of the local economy that supported the livelihoods of the population. Official narratives, however, painted a bleak picture about the state of handicraft carpet weaving. The narrative of decline was again introduced in the early Soviet period, when the carpet emerged as an important source of hard currency. The presentation will discuss the ways in which the narratives of decline and revival were constructed. It will examine how they informed decisions to render support to the industry, paying attention to networks of trade and commerce within and beyond the South Caucasus.


Sohee Ryuk is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History at Columbia University. She is a historian of twentieth-century Eurasia and the Soviet Union. Her dissertation is tentatively titled “Weaving ‘Oriental Carpets’ into the Soviet Union: Handicraft and Folk Art at the Intersections of Nations, Commodity, and Labor, 1890-1986.” In her dissertation, she uses carpets from Central Asia and the Caucasus as a lens to contextualize changes in labor organization and commodity production in the Soviet Union.

The event will take place in English via Zoom. 

To register please follow this link.