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Reimagining Soviet Georgia

Reimagining Soviet Georgia

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We are a multigenerational, multilingual, Tbilisi based collective. Our goal is to reexamine and rearticulate the history of Soviet Georgia by producing and supporting critical research, including oral and written histories, and a podcast for both Georgian and English speaking audiences.
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On this episode we discuss how Baku oil shaped Bolshevism, Sovietization, and the structuring of the Soviet state between 1920-1929 in the South Caucasus. Our guest is Sara Brinegar, historian and author of the book Power and the Politics of Oil in the Soviet South Caucasus: Periphery Unbound 1920-1929. Book description and author bio below: The bo…
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This episode was recorded on May 8th/9th 2024 - the situation is still unfolding. A political crisis is currently underway in Georgia. Sparked by the ruling Georgian Dream party's proposed law on the "transparency of foreign influence", the stand off between the government, NGOs, protestors - both those of the formal opposition and not - and even s…
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The collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union unleashed an unprecedented mortality crisis. In the years following, the region endured upwards of 7.5 million excess (and thus preventable) deaths. This post-socialist mortality crisis was not only the result of the economic devastation and social fracturing caused by socialism's end…
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One of Georgia's most exciting contemporary filmmakers is Levan Koguashvili. His films are as comedic as they are tragic, focusing on the intricacies (both beautiful and heartbreaking) of the day to day struggles Georgians live through today. In this discussion, we explore Levan's approach to filmmaking, stories behind the scripts, and the way his …
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On today's episode we discuss the emergence of the Georgian tea industry and how its development interacted with processes of economic, political and national consolidation in the first decades of the Georgian SSR. Our guest is Camille Neufville. Camille is a PhD student at Strasbourg university, France. She is interested in the entangled histories…
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On today's episode we sit down with political economist Ia Eradze to discuss how extreme rates of dollarization in Georgia emerged after the Soviet Union's demise, why dollarization persists, as well as how the dominance of neoliberal economic policies and exclusion of socio-economic issues from the public and political discourse in post-Soviet Geo…
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On today's episode we sit down with journalist and author Vincent Bevins to discuss his recent book If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution. This wide reaching conversation reviews the main themes and topics of his book, and the broader political lessons and reflections that the global social movements between 2010-2020, with…
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On today's episode we sit down with historian Diane P. Koenker to discuss the history, development and role of vacations, sanatoria and leisure in the Soviet Union. Koenker is the author of the 2013 study on the topic, Club Red: Vacation, Travel and the Soviet Dream
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On today's episode we sit down with historian Yiannis Kokosalakis to discuss his new book Building Socialism: The Communist Party and the Making of the Soviet System 1921-1941 Book description: "By placing the party grassroots at the centre of its focus, Building Socialism presents an original account of the formative first two decades of the Sovie…
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On today's episode we put the specific yet shared experiences of healthcare systems in Socialist Yugoslavia, the German Democratic Republic and the Georgian SSR into conversation. Through the discussion we bring to light both the similarities and differences in three distinct forms of socialism, as well as how the transition to capitalism dramatica…
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In the 1920s and 1930s, Bolshevik historians actively took part in building Soviet socialism. As militant scholars, one of their main tasks was (broadly speaking) to reconceptualize and rearticulate the history of the political entity they had just overthrown - the Russian Empire. The multinational Bolsheviks were not only committed to building a s…
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The history of Marxism in the 20th century, both as a means to interpret the world and as the basis of a politics to transform it, is marked by a profound intellectual and political diversity. Some of this can be attributed to individuals and their specific readings of Marx's thought. Yet other forms of Marxism - such as that which emerged in the g…
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On this episode we discuss the ins and outs of decolonization - as a set of historical revolutionary politics, intellectual tradition, contemporary framework of analysis as well the limitations and misuses of "decolonization" in the context of Ukraine and Russia today. To do this we have invited two distinct yet complimentary thinkers to put their …
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In terms of post-Soviet memory politics, arguably no figure is more controversial than interwar Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera. Since the Maidan uprising in 2014, his memory along with that of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists have been mobilized by both far right nationalists and the Ukrainian state - to…
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The Democratic Republic of Georgia - also known as the First Republic - existed between 1918-1921. Under the control of veterans of the decades long social democratic movement both in the South Caucasus and the Russian Empire at large, these Georgian social democrats led by Noe Jordania were allied with the Menshevik wing of the Russian Social Demo…
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For decades, historian Lewis Siegelbaum has taught and written on the Soviet Union. While many historians of labor and the working class in the USSR narrowly focused on moments of resistance, Siegelbaum investigated other aspects of working class existence such as the meaning of Soviet working class identity, the labor process, factory life and con…
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In this episode we discuss the histories, complexities and legacies of socialist Yugoslavia and non-alignment with contributor Gal Kirn and editor Paul Stubbs of the recently released book Socialist Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned Movement: Social, Cultural, Political and Economic Imaginaries. This discussion is a fascinating deep-dive into socialis…
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How the Soviet Union came to an end in 1991, after its nearly seventy year existence, is a process and event still mired in controversy and debate. Historians, politicians, citizens of the post-Soviet world and beyond understand this epochal event in drastically different ways - was it the result of internal contradictions of the Soviet system? Did…
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In this engaging and insightful conversation with Claire Kaiser, we discuss her new book Georgian and Soviet: Entitled Nationhood & the Specter of Stalin in the Caucasus. Here's a description of the book: Georgian and Soviet investigates the constitutive capacity of Soviet nationhood and empire. The Soviet republic of Georgia, located in the mounta…
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This episode explores how, through the process of developing a model of socialism applicable in the Third World, local actors interacted with the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries, China and the West. These political and economic interactions shaped not only the trajectory of these specific countries but of socialism globally. Our guest is Jeremy…
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Highly lauded and acclaimed architect Vladimir (Lado) Alexi-Meskhishvili (1915-1978) worked on the designs of some of Soviet Georgia's most iconic buildings. A partial list includes: Sanatorium “Imereti”, Tskaltubo (1957), Tbilisi Sports Palace, Tbilisi (1961), Restaurant “Iori”, Tbilisi (1962), Lower floor of Freedom Square metro station, (then “L…
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On this episode we have a wide ranging conversation with the illustrious historian Candan Badem who his an expert on the South Caucasus and in particular the borderlands between the Ottoman Empire and Imperial Russia in the 19th and early 20th centuries prior to the Russian Revolution. He has written on The Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War of the …
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Anastas Mikoyan was an incredible figure. An Armenian old Bolshevik whose career spanned decades all the way from active involvement in the Baku Commune of 1918 to playing a central role in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Mikoyan's role as First Deputy Premier under Khrushchev and architect of de-Stalinization and thaw-era nationality policies me…
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On today's episode we welcome Samuel Moyn, professor of Law and History at Yale, to discuss the political history of human rights and in particular how this relates to the Cold War, Soviet collapse, and neoliberalism as a politics in the post-Cold War era. Here's an article by Samuel Moyn based on his book Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal Wor…
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On this episode, we have a discussion with political geographer Dr. Gerard Toal about the 2008 August War that embroiled Georgia, Russia and South Ossetia in conflict, along with the contingencies and background that led to the fighting and what this event can tell us or not tell us about Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Dr. Toal wrote a book in …
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In this interview with French political scientist Laure Neumayer, we discuss how a particular form of anti-communist memory politics were mobilized and utilized by "memory entrepreneurs" in Europe following the Cold War. A particular interpretation of the socialist past was put up against official European memory of the 20th century as the EU enlar…
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In this episode we sit down with anthropologist Erin Koch to have a conversation about the shifts in medical practices, treatments as well as epidemic management from the Soviet period to Post-Soviet period in Georgia through a discussion of her 2013 book Free Market Tuberculosis: Managing Epidemics in Post-Soviet Georgia. The shift to a market eco…
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One of the Soviet Union's most well known directors Mikhail Kalatozov was born as Mikhail Kalatoziashvili in Tiflis in 1903. Before releasing his more famous works such as Soy Cuba (1964) and The Cranes Are Flying (1957), or winning an award at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, he along with Nutsa Gogoberidze (Soviet Georgia's first female director) c…
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On today's episode we sit down with prolific historian Dr. Gerald Horne to discuss the intimate political relationship in the 20th century between the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of the USA and Black political struggle in the United States. We discuss a number of topics including African American Marxists such as Paul Robeson - who Dr. Horne …
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Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell Orenstein have recently released a new book entitled "Taking Stock of Shock: The Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions" - this week we have both authors on as guests to discuss their new book, their methodological process, how to make sense of the social consequences of socialist collapse and how it relates to Geo…
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In this episode we sit down with Tbilisi-based researcher and lecturer Archil Sikharulidze, who specializes in securitization, Georgia-Russia relations and more, to discuss the hurdles that dominant forms of nationalism pose to doing research on critical yet politically sensitive topics in Georgia. His most recent article here on Georgian identity …
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On today’s show we welcome Anastasia Shesterinina to discuss her excellent new book Mobilizing in Uncertainty: Collective Identities and War in Abkhazia which, using hundreds interviews and extensive field research, explains how and why Abkhaz did or did not mobilize to fight in the war with Georgia in the early 1990s, and how to many Abkhaz as the…
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Our guests for today's episode are author, educator and journalist Vijay Prashad as well as world literature professor and author Ian Almond. With Vijay Prashad, we discuss the basic idea of one of his recent books Red Star Over the Third World (2019, Pluto Press) - how the 1917 Russian Revolution and then the seventy year existence of the Soviet U…
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We discuss the book Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire with the author Erik Scott and much more. In the book, Scott discusses the unique opportunities Soviet Georgians were afforded due to their position within Soviet society as a coherent, institutionalized nationality. Unlike other histories that touch on…
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On today’s episode, we sat down with Georgia based writer and researcher Katie Sartania. In April of this year, Katie wrote an excellent article entitled “Struggle and Sacrifice: Narratives of Georgia’s Modern History” which critically interrogates the role of Georgian nationalism and independence in the post-Soviet period, and how narratives of in…
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On today’s episode, Sopo Japaridze and Beka Natsvlishvili have an engaging discussion with philosopher Keti Chukhrov. Keti was born in Soviet Georgia in the 1970s and since then has gone on to write articles and books touching subjects such as art criticism, philosophy, political theory and more. Sopo, Beka and Keti discuss the premise of her recen…
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During the Russian Civil War, between May 1918 and February 1921, the Democratic Republic of Georgia – known as the First Republic - was a nominally independent state controlled by social democrats. These Georgian social democrats were Mensheviks. Formally, Menshevism and Bolshevism were two distinct wings of the empire wide Russian Social Democrat…
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Ronald Grigor Suny’s decades long career as a historian transformed historiography of the Soviet Union by centering the nation and nationality. He did this with special attention to the nations of the South Caucasus - Armenia, Azerbaijan and of course, Georgia. Suny’s analysis focused on how nationhood is a constructed product of history, and imagi…
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During the late USSR, thousands of people from Soviet Georgia relocated to both Leningrad and the all-Soviet capital, Moscow. Many left Soviet Georgia to study in universities, for job placements or other career opportunities. Some of these people stayed, while others returned. Some went to Leningrad and Moscow as traders of fruits or flowers, usin…
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In Episode 1, Part II we interview Beka Natsvlishvili, professor and former MP in Georgia to discuss the use of anti-Soviet memory politics in Georgia and the implications this has on political development and debate in the country. Beka shares his own experiences in both the university setting and as a politician in Georgia to shed light on the re…
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Episode 1 - The State of Soviet History in Georgia In this episode we explore how Soviet History and its legacies in Georgia are generally understood and approached today in academia, politics, the NGO sector and society at large. In Part I we interview Timothy Blauvelt - professor of History at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. Teaching i…
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Welcome to the first, introductory podcast of Reimagining Soviet Georgia! We are a new, multigenerational, multilingual, Tbilisi based collective. Our goal is to reexamine and rearticulate the history of Soviet Georgia by producing and supporting critical research, including oral and written histories, and a podcast for both Georgian and English sp…
  continue reading
 
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