INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: THE BIRTH OF MODERN GEORGIA. THE FIRST GEORGIAN REPUBLIC AND ITS SUCCESSORS 1918-2008
An International Conference The Birth of Modern Georgia: The First Georgian Republic and its Successors 1918-2008 will take place on 9th-12th October 2009, in Tbilisi, Georgia. The first Georgian republicís significance in Georgiaís historical development and its relevance as the first modern state-building experiment in Georgian history has been neglected. This conference will attempt to fill in the blank pages and draw parallels with successive governments in Georgia after 1991 led by Presidents Gamsakhurdia, Shevardnadze and Saakashvili. We want to make the conference themes as relevant as possible to the problems and dilemmas Georgian officials and ordinary citizens face today.
There will be some funding available for travel from abroad and accommodation in Tbilisi for international scholars. This conference was postponed in 2008 due to the August Russo-Georgian war and the occupation of Georgia by Russian forces. We invite proposals once more for presentations. Please keep the proposal to no more than 300 words and in English please. The major language of the conference will be English. Translators will be available for presentations in Georgian, though we urge presentations in English, if possible. The themes of the conference are:
1. The role of geopolitics, energy and regional powers in Georgian foreign policy. This would include comparisons of Georgian strategic significance in 1918-21 with the present, the role of oil, and the changing goals of foreign powers in the region (think for example of Georgiaís transformed relationship with Turkey).
2. The role of Europe both in terms of intellectual links with Georgia and influence over policy. Europe has always been a major influence on Georgian politics. How could we compare Europeís role in Georgia at the beginning of the 20th century (consider the mandates of foreign powers in Georgia after 1918 including occupation by the British) with European strategies today (the European Neighborhood Policy, for example).
3. Cultural life and the impact of changes in social structure and political values on government policies. How does the change from a predominantly rural population to urban one affect domestic politics? How have political norms and values changed the conduct of domestic politics when comparing 1918-1921 to 1991-2007?
4. Foreign views of Georgia. Writers, journalists and politicians have always seen Georgia as an exotic place. What role does it play in the Western imagination? How did they view the First Republic and why? What do they see today? Can these images of Georgia influence Georgian relations with foreign states? How have the views of Georgia changed since 1918?
5. The role of the Diaspora. The Georgian Diaspora, traditionally small, has increased enormously in recent years due to the harsh realities at home . What role did it play under Soviet rule, what role does is play today (remittances, lobbying abroad, expertise in reconstruction of the state?).
6. A comparison of democracy goals and democratic institutions. This question will help us unravel some of the more simplistic interpretations of democracy. The nature of democracy and the values it embodies have changed since 1918. What did democratic political institutions look like in 1918 and how do they look now? How did they work then, how do they work now? This will include comparisons of the media, parliament, the constitution, and judiciary.
7. How is the First Republic perceived today in historical and political texts? History has a purpose. In the Soviet period, the First Republic was the bÍte noir of Soviet power. How does the Georgian state look at the First Republic today? What does an analysis of school textbooks tell us? To what degree has the First Republicís obscurity been the result of the current orthodoxy of economic liberalism?
Please send your proposals to all four members of the conference Proposal Review Committee.
Professor Stephen F. Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chair
Professor Gigi Tevzadze, Rector of Ilia Chavchavadze State University (email@example.com),
Ambassador Aleca Rondeli, President of the Georgian Foundation of Strategic and International Studies, Tbilisi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Redjeb Jordania, writer, composer, and son of Noe Jordania (Redjeb@aol.com)
You may also contact Professor Jones by mail or telephone:
12 Kettle Hill Road, Amherst, MA 01002; Tel. 413 548-6967
DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS: JULY 20TH 2009.
International Relations Program
Mount Holyoke College
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