Online presentation on “Proletarian Tourist on Great-Power Chauvinist?”

“Proletarian Tourist or Great-Power Chauvinist? Imperial Afterlives and the Legacy of Soviet Touring in Georgia

By Ben Bamberger, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and ARISC Fellow

Date: December 7, 2022 at 6:30pm Tbilisi time / 9:30am EST / 8:30am CST

Registration required:

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In the early Soviet period, planners and activists made a real attempt to construct a more egalitarian form of touring under the framework of “proletarian tourism,” with a significant focus on the South Caucasus. These attempts, however, were challenged by civilizational ideas about the Caucasus and Caucasians that were and are deeply embedded in Russian popular culture. This talk examines some of the continuities between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the ways that civilizational ideas about the region frustrated local tourist officials and guides in Soviet Georgia. Ultimately, it seeks to spark discussion about how these imperial afterlives continue to be present in Georgia today, particularly since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Ben Bamberger received his PhD from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2019. His dissertation, “Mountains of Discontent: Georgia Alpinism and the Limits of Soviet Equality,” examined the development of an independent mountaineering community in Georgia and its relationship with the Soviet center from the early 1920s until the immediate post-Stalin period. In summer 2022, he received an ARISC Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research on mountaineering in Georgia, with a particular focus on climbing in Svaneti.

This talk is organized as a part of ARISC Online Event Series that showcase the work of ARISC fellows. 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, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.