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.