Welcome to book release – Dec 8

“Vi såg sammanbrottet” – Svenska och danska forskares berättelser från Kaukasus under Sovjetväldets sista år

“We witnessed the break-up.” – Six Swedish and Danish researchers on the final years of the USSR seen from the Caucasus, edited by Märta-Lisa Magnusson and Karina Vamling (In Swedish and Danish).

When: December 8, 10.15–11.00. Where: Zoom (link TBA)

On Christmas Day 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union. The country that he had been the leader of, as General Secretary of the Communist party since 1985 and as President since 1990, had ceased to exist. The crucial event that led up to the final collapse was the meeting in Minsk on December 8 1991, when the leaders of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine decided to establish an  interstate organization, CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In the anthology “We witnessed the break-up” a group of Swedish and Danish researchers recount their experiences in the Caucasus region during the final years of the Soviet Union and the period shortly after. The authors are political scientist Ib Faurby, cultural geographer Lars Funch Hansen, researcher on minority issues Helen Krag, slavicist Märta-Lisa Magnusson, historian and Iranologist Søren Theisen and general linguist Karina Vamling.

The Caucasus, like the Baltic region, was on the outskirts of the Soviet Union, but these two regions were to play an important role in the reform process that Gorbachev initiated in 1985 and that six years later led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

In their contributions the authors write about the new movements for independence in the Caucasus and increasing tensions with Moscow, how the Soviet structures at different levels were breaking down and the national cultures became increasingly important. They describe how premodern traditions still play a role, despite Soviet modernization, account for specific cultural features and similarities and also witness deepening ethnic antagonism.

The book is published by Malmö University in the series Caucasus Studies and is available as an ebook (download link) and will shortly appear as print-on-demand.

Seminar with Prof Kevin Tuite, Nov 5

Banqueting as an extreme sport: Agonism and the Georgian supra

Prof Kevin Tuite, University of Montréal, Dept of Anthropology Banqueting as an extreme sport: Agonism and the Georgian supra.

November 5, 3-5 pm (Sign-up here) for zoom link.

Festival in Svaneti (Georgia) in February 2006.

The talk will begin with a description of the Georgian “supra”, including its basic rules, toasting sequence, and the role of the “tamada” (toastmaster). This will be followed by a brief account of the origins and history of the supra, its links to the Iranian votive “sofreh”, and ritual banquets in the context of Georgian vernacular religion. The concept of agonism will be presented with respect to Georgian culture in general, and the supra in particular. Two aspects of agonism will be discussed: (1) positive agonism: the competitive display of quantity and capacity; and (2) negative agonism: the competitive display of self-control and endurance.

Kevin Tuite is professor of Anthropology at the University of Montréal. He specializes in Caucasian linguistics and anthropology, with a special focus on on Georgian and Svan. Web page: www.philologie.com

The seminar is part of the series Meet Georgian Culture at Malmö University. Read more here.

Roundtable on Georgian and Swedish literature, Oct 22

Join us for a Roundtable: Georgian literature in Sweden – Swedish literature in GeorgiaPoetry and children’s literature are in focus, as well as challenges in translating culture specific features. Participants are Kristian Carlsson, publisher, writer and translator; Tamara Tchikovani, translator, Manana Kock Kobaidze, lecturer, translator and writer and Hanna Sandborgh, PhD Candidate at Tbilisi State University with a special interest in translation theory.
October 22, 3.15-5.00 pm (Sign-up here) (in Swedish).
The event is part of series of seminars and events “Meet Georgian Culture at Malmö University” (program). This year the Georgian capital Tbilisi has been appointed “World book capital“.

Kristian Carlsson is a Swedish writer and translator. His publishing house Smockadoll has contributed to the translation of a number of Georgian books into Swedish. His poetry is also translated into Georgian.

Tamara Tchikovani, born in Georgia, moved to Sweden in 1992 and has translated several books by Astrid Lindgren into Georgian: Ronja Rövardotter (Diogene 2002, Bakur Sulakauri Publishing 2019); Bröderna Lejonhjärta (Diogene 2005, Bakur Sulakauri Pablishong 2020) och Lotta på Bråkmakargatan (Bakur Sulakauri Publishing, 2012) 

Manana Kobaidze was born in Georgia and moved to Sweden in 1996. She is a lecturer in Georgian at Malmö University, and also a writer and translator. Her recent collection of poetry is Akhali agvisto (Den nya augusti) gavs ut i Tbilisi 2018. She has translated poetry from Swedish into Georgian (bl.a. Tomas Tranströmmer 2012, Karin Boye 2013) and Georgian into Swedish (Lia Liqokeli 2015, Den Kaukasiska fallenheten, 2018 (28 Georgian poets).

A Diplomat in Georgia – Seminar with Denis Keefe Oct 8

Welcome to our online seminar with Denis Keefe (CMG, Director National Security Faculty, Royal College of Defence Studies, London):  A Diplomat in Georgia

When: Oct 8, 1.15–3 pm (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom https://mau-se.zoom.us/j/66691993405?pwd=ZmpyZWhSbEZSc0RRZ3BtT1dOZ2tJZz09 
Passcode: 198336


Being Ambassador in Georgia is an intense experience which links together cultural, political, historical and strategic issues as you seek to understand and engage with developments. This was particularly true in the period 2007-2010, which included the war with Russia. Denis Keefe reflects on what he learned about Georgia, the Caucasus and Russia.

Denis Keefe (right) by the Black Cliff Lake in
Lagodekhi, on the Georgia/Russia border


Denis Keefe studied at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and spent 37 years as a British diplomat. Since 2019 he has been one of the Senior Directing Staff at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He has specialised in Central and Eastern Europe, including postings in Prague and Moscow, as well as Kenya. His first posting as Ambassador was to Tbilisi in 2007-2010. In preparation for this, he started to learn Georgian online at Malmo University. His last diplomatic posting was as Ambassador to Serbia from 2014-2019.

The seminar is part of the series Meet Georgian Culture at Malmö University. Read more here.

Seminar with Prof Tinatin Bolkvadze Oct 1

The language situation in multilingual Georgia

Welcome to the online seminar on October 1 with Professor Tinatin Bolkvadze, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics.  The topic of her talk is the language situation in multilingual Georgia. She will compare the sociolinguistic situation in Soviet and   post-Soviet Georgia, and discuss the hierarchy and sociolinguistic attributes of languages spoken in Georgia and the main problems of the language policy of Modern Georgia.

Professor Bolkvadze takes active part in the work of the Georgian State Language Department. She is the head of the Section for Academic and Educational Programs (www.enadep.gov.ge  She is also active in the Giorgi Akhvlediani Society for the History of Linguistics (http:gashol.ge).

When: October 1, 1.15–3.00 (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom (sign-up here)

The seminar is part of the series Meet Georgian Culture at Malmö University. Read more here.

Seminar with Prof. Zaal Kikvidze Sept 24

Address in Georgian: Language and Society through History

Welcome to the online lecture with Prof. Zaal Kikvidze, Arn. Chikobava Institute of Linguistics and Tbilisi State University: Address in Georgian: Language and Society through History.
When: Friday September 24, 3–5 pm (Swedish time)
Where: Zoom lecture, for late sign up, contact caucasus.studies@mau.se

Prof. Zaal Kikvidze at Malmö University annual celebration

The lectutre is a discussion of address behavior in Georgian with special reference to a Georgian equivalent of Ladies and Gentlemen (kalbat’on.eb.o da bat’on.eb.o), focusing its etymology, development, usage, and meaning, and its socio-cultural implications, since ancient times till our days.

Brief bio

Prof. Dr. Zaal Kikvidze is Senior Research Fellow at Arnold Chikobava Institute of Linguistics, Tbilisi State University. His research interests include South Caucasian languages, Sociolinguistics, Language and Gender Studies, History of Linguistics, Lexicography, Corpus Linguistics.

In different periods Dr. Zaal Kikvidze has been a visiting researcher and lecturer at Malmö University with support from Erasmus Mundus and Linneaus Palme Programmes.

Language and Society in the Caucasus

New publication: Language and Society in the Caucasus. Understanding the past, navigating the present – a collection of articles presented as a festschrift for Prof. Karina Vamling at a zoom seminar, May 25 (below). Editors of the volume are Christofer Berglund, Katrine Gotfredsen, Jean Hudson and Bo Petersson. Read the book

Seminar with Prof. Oliver Reisner on the history of Caucasian Studies

On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union

Welcome to the web seminar with Prof. Oliver Reisner (School of Arts & Sciences, Jean Monnet Chair, European & Caucasian Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi). The topic of his talk is On the history of Caucasian Studies in the Tsarist Empire and early Soviet Union.

When: 15.15-17.00 CET, May 25 2021
Where: zoom, sign up here


In the past few years the first systematizing and critically reflective works on area studies in the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union appeared. However, neither Eastern European history concentrating on the Slavic peoples nor philological Oriental studies have so far sufficiently addressed the effects of Tsarist and Soviet systems of scientific research into the Caucasus. In contrast, in the young post-Soviet nation-states, scholars often tend to interpret the share of Soviet research in their own national research traditions as a product of external determination, oppression or colonization, or at least they completely ignore it. The establishment of ‘kavkazovednie’ or Caucasiology as area studies represents the focus of my talk. The knowledge gained in this field is not considered as fixed, but seen as part of a culturally negotiated understanding of the Caucasus region. We will take a look at the places and groups supporting research in a concrete ‘microcosm’, here the Faculty for Oriental Languages of St. Petersburg University, the Caucasian Historical Archaeological Institute (1917) or the first Georgian university (1918) in Tbilisi. Research was embedded in varying political and social environments of Petersburg/Leningrad, Moscow and Tbilisi (Tiflis) for the Caucasus. I attempt to clarify the interdependence of these three ‘areas of experience’ in my discussion of the role of scholarship in state and society. Scientific achievement has been of particular importance for the self-understanding and representation of an imperial-state as well as respective nations. Recent studies into the practice of research in the early Soviet Union address most of all the effectiveness of scientific paradigms of nation building, but not so far scope and approaches of Caucasus Studies as area studies as an academic practice.  

Short bio

Oliver Reisner is professor in European and Caucasian Studies at Ilia State University Tbilisi (Georgia) since 2015. He received his Dr. phil. degree in East European History for a thesis on nation building in Georgia at Göttingen University (2000), coordinated the MA programme “Central Asia / Caucasus” at Humboldt University Berlin (2000-2003). After implementing an EU-funded civic integration project with World Vision in Georgia, from 2005 until 2015 he was working as project manager at the EU Delegation to Georgia. He published a monograph and 28 papers, most recently on Europeanisation, religion, civil society in Georgia as well as the Georgia country reports for the Bertelsmann Transformation Index. He is a member of the board of the “Association of European Studies for the Caucasus” and of the advisory council of the “European Journal of Minority Issues”. Currently he is leading a research project “In Search of Social Cohesion in Minor Urban Settings of Georgia” (Rustaveli National Science Foundation). Finally, he is co-editor of the series “Caucasian Studies” at Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden.

Guranda Bursulaia, PhD

Our warmest congratulations to Guranda Bursulaia, who has successfully defended her doctoral thesis MEMORY WE LIVE BY: A STUDY OF THE COMPLEXITY OF GEORGIAN AND ABKHAZ NARRATIVES at Free University in Tbilisi.

Guranda spent one year at Malmö University as a visiting PhD candidate on a Swedish Institute grant. We wish her the best of luck in her further research and other activities!

Seminar on the restoration of Georgia’s statehood

This year marks 30 years since the 1991 referendum on the restoration Georgia’s statehood and the following declaration of independence. The years 1988-91 were a period of profound changes in the republics of the Soviet Union, subsequently leading up to the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991. In the RUCARR seminar on April 9 the presenters Merab Chukhua and Tina Tskhovrebadze approach and discuss the process of restoration of Georgia’s statehood from two perspectives:

Merab Chukhua

From the 9th of April to the 9th of  April – a brief glance

Dr. Merab Chukhua was active in the national movement in Soviet Georgia during the last years of the Soviet Union and is currently Professor of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Department of Caucasiology, and also Director of the Circassian Culture Center (Tbilisi).

Tina Tskhovrebadze

Politics of Memory in the Process of Georgian Statehood Restoration

Tina Tskhovrebadze is a PhD Candidate at the Dept of Political Science Tbilisi State University and currently working as a research assistant in the project Politics of Memory in Georgia in 1988-1991 at the Institute of Political Science. She a former visiting PhD Candidate to Caucasus Studies, Malmö University.

When:  April 9 13.15–15.00 (Zoom, CET, Swedish time).

Special thanks to Chargé d’affaires Levan Machavariani of the Embassy of  the Republic of Georgia to Sweden for his kind contribution in the organisation of this event and introduction to the seminar.

Merab Chukhua: From the 9th of April to the 9th of  April – a brief glance

Tina Tskhovrebadze: Politics of Memory in the Process of Georgian Statehood Restoration