The bivocal nation: memory and identity on the edge of empire

The bivocal nation: memory and identity on the edge of empire

Thursday, 1 December 2016 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Venue: 
Syndicate Room
Speaker(s): 
Dr Nutsa Batiashvili (REES & Free University of Tbilisi)
Convenor: 
Professor Roy Allison (St Antony's)

How is a nation imagined in a place that exists on the “Edge of Empires?” Or what is nation-ness like in a place that is construed as an ambiguous point between “east” and “west?” Or prevailing in a liminal state of becoming and unbecoming: European, Soviet, postcolonial, developing, modernizing and so forth? Georgia is one of such countries: on the edge of the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe, on the brink of becoming European and unbecoming Post-Soviet. Many of its headaches stem from the challenge of making these geopolitical, cultural, and historical leaps in order to accomplish the task of becoming and unbecoming and to exist as a nation and a nation-state.  

This paper shows the forms of discourse on the Georgian nationhood that evolve as a result of such historic and political positioning. It demonstrates how the memory narratives are used to make sense of the political and geopolitical challenges. At the same time it explains how this practice of using and producing memory narratives reflects a culturally distinct discursive tradition, which involves the tension between two voices for articulating Georgianness – self-idealizing and self-condemning. The term “bivocal” coins this idea of two distinct voices being inherent to the expression of the national self.