(Slavica Publishers) Introduction: This collection of articles is a result of an international networked project that during three years supported professional mobility and connectivity between the University of Tartu and its partners in the South Caucasus in general and Georgia in particular. During the project implementation, colleagues from different institutions met in conferences, workshops, and seminars to discuss issues related to developing new approaches to Georgian politics. Georgia remained a central regional actor that could be discussed from multilayered perspectives, combining historical, cultural and political viewpoints. Grounded in multidisciplinary approaches, the Georgian case shapes horizons for understanding political and cultural dynamics and ensures a holistic approach to various politically themed issues at a regional level.
In this cluster, we discuss Georgia from a variety of perspectives that elucidate a plethora of nuanced dimensions to politics and culture that otherwise might remain unnoticed or underconceptualized. We look at Georgia not from the viewpoint of political elites, governments and state institutions, but rather from the vantage point of the multiplicity of competing identities-in-the-making and specific practices and policies unfolding beyond—but, of course, still very much affected by—formal / official hierarchies of power. That is why the authors of this cluster of articles focus on “soft” dimensions of borders and security, and conceptualize them in ideational terms, as discourses, narratives, and imageries that shape policy practices affecting people’s lives. This includes the idea of spaces of cultural belonging, particularly meaningful when it comes to fragmented and dispersed identities clashing with each other. In some contexts, religious components may be central for analysis, while in other cases different techniques of governance come to the fore. It is this combination of different perspectives that allow elucidating multiple forms, types, and models of power relations in Georgia, as well as multiple relations of inclusion/ exclusion, bordering/debordering, securitizing/desecuritizing.
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See the chapter by Alexandra Yatsyk and Andrey Makarychev: “Imperial Biopolitics and Its Disavowals: Russia, Georgia, and Spaces In-Between.”