WiP: Julie George on “Paradoxes of Proximity: Geography, Governance, and Identity Expression in Georgia”

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are pleased to announce the 4th talk of the Fall 2023 Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series!

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

“Paradoxes of Proximity: Geography, Governance, and Identity Expression in Georgia”

By Julie George, Queens College CUNY

Date: October 25, 2023, at 18:30 Tbilisi time

How do individuals’ experiences of violence and their geographical proximity to theaters of war affect their identity expression? Are they more likely to express exclusivist values versus inclusivist ones with regard to their own ethnic understanding? Are they more likely to view ethnic minorities as “others,” worthy of civic exclusion or as progenitors of fear and hostility? Considering the case of Georgia, which established its independence amidst a series of conflicts, some with ethnic overtones, this study examines how experiences of violence and ones’ proximity to previous theatres of conflict affect ethnic identity expressions. Using the 2020 Future of Georgia dataset, we find divergent results, with those living closer to the Abkhazian conflict more likely to espouse exclusivist positions, while those closer to the Tskhinvali region express more inclusive positions of Georgian identity. Together with co-author Dan Maliniak, Prof. George proposes two potential explanations for this discrepancy: 1.) the blame narratives of the conflict that frame the circumstances as the result of great power imperialism, blurring simplistic blame narratives of an ethnic other; and 2.) higher vulnerability conditions in the boundaries on the Tskhinvali ABL that force mitigating attitudes for disempowered citizens. As this is a work in progress, the authors are currently working to test these explanations, but suspect the latter is the best explanation.

Julie George is Associate Professor of Political Science at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. She is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Columbia University and is an affiliate of the Harriman Institute. She is the author of Ethnic Separatism in Russia and Georgia (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) and has published articles in Electoral Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, and Post-Soviet Affairs, among others. She is an Associate Editor at both Nationalities Papers and Communist and Post-Communist Affairs and serves on several editorial boards, including Caucasus Survey. Julie’s current research focuses on identity construction and expression in the Caucasus, as well as on political continuity and disruption in Georgian politics since its most recent independence from the USSR.


Works-in-Progress is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place office of CRRC at Chavchavadze Ave. 5 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.