WiP: Ariel Otruba on “Careless Infrastructures of Resettlement”

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are pleased to announce the 14th talk of the Spring 2023 Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series!

The talk will take place in hybrid format in-person at CRRC Georgia and online through Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/…/tZMucOmqqj8oGtFDJYsLNoKidDVD9…

“Careless Infrastructures of Resettlement”

Ariel Otruba, PhD, Moravian University

Date: 28 June 2023, at 18:30

In the South Caucasus, over a million people live in protracted and precarious displacement situations. The Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazian, and South Ossetian conflicts all resulted in a massive displacement of civilians. In the Republic of Georgia, internally displaced persons (IDPs) include two major groups: those newly displaced from the 2008 Russo-Georgian war and those displaced from armed conflict the early 1990s. The many struggles of IDPs in Georgia has been well documented in the scholarly literature. Within this literature, special attention has been given to the issue of housing. This research project contributes to this conversation by focusing on IDPs from Abkhazia that were resettled in the city of Tskaltubo following the thirteen-month Abkhaz-Georgian war in 1992-1993. For thirty years, many of these IDPs inhabited the decomposing remains of once-luxurious Soviet sanitoria buildings before being relocated into new apartments. This project investigates urban ecology by asking how the intimate and emotional lives of these Tskaltubo IDPs have been transformed by the receipt of new apartments. To answer this question, this research draws upon findings from a feminist visual ethnography project conducted between 2021-2022, which studied how housing infrastructure conditions shape IDPs’ sense of identity, dignity, personhood, and agency. Interviews from this project show that the receipt of new apartments has been generally welcome if not emotionally transformative, especially after a long and arduous wait. Nonetheless, many IDPs remain worried about spatial justice. This presentation brings critical attention to issues of gender and intimacy related to the IDP resettlement process. Doing so offers a case study for theorizing “careless infrastructures.”

Ariel Otruba, Ph.D. is a feminist political geographer, conflict resolution practitioner, and anti-trafficking advocate. She is the 2022-23 InFocus War and Peace Scholar-in-Residence at Moravian University and an adjunct professor in the M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program at Arcadia University. Dr. Otruba’s research focuses on feminist approaches to critical geopolitics, border and migration studies, and political ecology in the South Caucasus. Her most recent scholarly achievements include “Violent Infrastructure: Ecologies of Decay and Displacement,” a photovoice and immersive, multimedia exhibition, and the publication of “No (Wo)man’s Land: Risking Detention Along the South Ossetian Administrative Boundary Line,” a chapter in Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen’s (2022) Invisible Borders in a Very Bordered World: Geographies of Power, Mobility, and Belonging. The research she will be discussing was supported by the ARISC Research Fellowship and Junior Research Fellowship.

Works-in-Progress is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place office of CRRC at Liziko Kavtaradze St. 1 and online. 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.

In observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule, the talks will not be recorded, and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing recordings as well. The opinions expressed in WiP talks are those of the speakers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC, ARISC or of American Councils.