WiP: History that Splinters: Education Reforms and Memory Politics in Georgian Culture. Tbilisi, Georgia, July 24 – Jane Kitaevich

CRRC, American Councils and ARISC are proud to present the 24st talk of the Works-in-Progress Series for the Spring 2013 Season!

Jane Kitaevich, Harvard University
History that Splinters: Education Reforms and Memory Politics in Georgian Culture
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6:15pm

ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, GEORGIA 

Abstract: Sudden collapse of Communism and uncertainty of the new order brought about renewed fascination with the national history in former Soviet states, as they increasingly turned to their historical past to explain and mold the new present. These historical crusades became a regular feature in regional nation-/state-building processes, sparking greater scholarly interest in memory studies. Much of the research on collective memory formation and identity-building in the post-Soviet space, however, paid disproportionate attention to the role of the state as the main locus of collective memory production through such mechanisms as the legislation on historical memories, public memorials, and history textbooks. The method of qualitative inquiry in this study goes beyond the more limiting analysis of the formal articulations of history by the traditional state institutes alone: instead, in a constructivist vein, the formation of collective memory narratives and the visions of statehood is examined from the ground up in the context of Georgia. The speaker will discuss the analysis of the data derived from extensive interviews with school teachers of history and state actors, as well as content analysis of 9 textbooks, 100+ speeches, and official curriculum plan, suggesting that societal views of history, as represented by teachers’ narratives, are noticeably divided along the generational cleavage lines, forming 4 distinct categories of narratives that respond to and often contest the state-generated discourse, while informing the visions of statehood of the members of polity. The presentation will also touch on the splintering of narratives and the lack of space for “communicative action” between them, connecting these findings to the literature on the relationship between democracy-building and the nature of memory politics on the ground.

Jane Kitaevich is a graduate student at Harvard University, where she is a graduate student affiliate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Her current research projects include a study of the conceptualization and institutionalization of collective historical memories in a comparative context, by focusing on the case studies of Estonia and Georgia, which she explores as a visiting scholar at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Center for EU-Russia Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. She previously served as a Junior Fellow for the Russia-Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., where she researched politics and economies of the FSU. Jane’s research interests include nation-building/state-building, collective memory, conflict resolution, separatism, religion and society, political psychology, social networks, politics of citizenship, and civil society.
W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). 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.The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to natia@crrccenters.org.