History and Politics in the Caucasus
Historical narratives have played, and continue to play, an important role in the political development and national consolidation of the states and ethnic territories of the Caucasus region. The political elites, together with historians, are the driving force in writing and presenting history. History serves as basis for national mobilization and means to create a consensus on a national past. In most cases, national narratives have been established as opposed to the supra-national Soviet and imperial histories. In conﬂict situations, history serves as a powerful force to legitimize speciﬁc claims – over territory, resources and peoples. History is often being used as a tool of political competition rather than critical analysis.
History is highly politicized especially in countries facing deep political or even territorial divisions; in these countries, national narratives often develop around political claims rather than representing a reﬂection of the past in its own right. In Georgia, we see a tendency to use historical narratives as part of a political and propagandistic ﬁght against Russia. In Azerbaijan, there is a prominent trend of putting the nation into the context of ancient civilization and using this as an argument in the country’s struggle against Armenia over Karabakh. In Armenia, too, history is often used as a political instrument, especially when dealing with Azerbaijan over the Karabakh question. A strong “anti-colonial” focus on history can be observed within the secessionist territories of the South Caucasus (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Karabakh), or in some of the autonomous republics in the Russian part of the Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, etc.). In Russia, the most important political player in the Caucasus region, the historical discourse has been ﬂuctuating between nostalgia for the empire and attempts to critically reconsider the Soviet Communist past.
Historical research cannot ﬂourish and live up to academic standards when put to the service of political goals. This conference seeks ways beyond the politics of history towards the development of
We welcome proposals from senior as well as younger researchers from all over the world, but especially encourage PhD students and Postdocs from the Caucasus region to apply. Please submit your application via Email (including a one-page outline of your proposed paper, a CV and list of publications) by May 31, 2015, to:
Prof. Dr. Jeronim Perović
University of Zurich, Department of History
Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland
About the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN):
ASCN is a programme aimed at promoting the social sciences and humanities in the South Caucasus (primarily Georgia and Armenia). Its different activities foster the emergence of a new generation of talented scholars. Promising junior researchers receive support through research projects,capacity-building trainings and scholarships. The programme emphasizes the advancement of individuals who, thanks to their ASCN experience, become better integrated in international academic networks. The ASCN programme is coordinated and operated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). It is initiated and supported by Gebert Rüf Stiftung.