Alternating Pasts, Changing Futures
Window frame inside of a home in Telavi center after rehabilitation of building façade. Photo by Tinatin Zurabishvili
In looking at these larger issues in microcosm, the past was obviously present in relation to the ‘rehabilitation’ of historic sites, but at the same time, the future was also being meddled in.
Ongoing construction works in and of themselves can inherently be seen as a projection into the future – a building being built today may be in response to the needs of the day but they are also for a projected future use. In looking at construction as a projection into the future, coming along with it comes a projection of what that future will be like. Thomas De Waal, in a pamphlet published by the Carnegie Foundation, characterized the rhetoric of the UNM as speaking in the “future perfect” (De Waal, 2011). Speaking in the future perfect meant that the government made statements about what the country would be and would have. The government not only projected into the future through its rhetoric, but also through construction. Construction was further accompanied by glossy brochures which were widely distributed with computer generated images of what finished buildings would be like. Works in progress were not left to the imagination alone, but an actual image was delivered along with the grounds broken for construction.
Source: Georgia Today
In Telavi, as it was elsewhere in Georgia, the projected future muddied memories of the glorious past. One young woman who was interviewed during MYPLACE fieldwork stated that she tried not to look at what was happening in the historic center and tried not to notice what was new while walking through it. Her desire not to know is at least twofold in its avoidance. In not looking around it seems reasonable to say this informant was avoiding both the defamation of the old as was shown previously to be felt, but also the creeping reminder of the present ’terror’ and the then present government’s projected vision of the future. Sites of memory had been transformed into sites of reminder.
This future though was not to last. During fieldwork a viable opposition led and financially backed by Georgian billionaire, Bidzina Ivanishvili emerged. Its emergence and eventual victory in parliamentary elections ruptured the future that had been projected. With the loss of positions of authority as well as moral authority, the UNM had lost its ability to project the future it saw on Georgia – their future had become part of the past. ’Rehabilitation’ works along with a number of other projects in the country were halted shortly after Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream came to office. The halting of works in some way has preserved the sites of memory in the historic center of Telavi; their preservation though is not the kind which a preservationist would hope for, but rather, the preservation of the alteration of the sites. This preservation has thus, in turn, made sites of memory in Telavi polysemous. In preserving the alteration of the sites, now for those in Telavi, the sites are linked to both the distant past and the less than democratic recent past.
For how long the ‘rehabilitated’ buildings will serve as sites of memory of the recent past is unclear, but what is clear is present and future governments in Georgia will continue to meddle in the past and project their visions into the future thus impacting Georgians, young and old alike.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the second blog post in the series. Click here to see the first blog post.]
CRRC’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) was launched in 2009 as a Carnegie Corporation initiative within the CRRC, with the goal of providing on-the-job training opportunities in applied research for young social scientists.
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But what do people want?
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Facebook is an important part of Georgian politics. Political campaigns are fought, and public opinion thought to often be formed on the platform...
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