Caucasus Conflict Culture 3
Caucasus Germans: Conflictual Relations in a Multiethnic Region Tbilisi, 19.08.-01.09.2013)
This project focused on the conflictual relations of Germans in the Caucasus. The Germans did resettle in the beginning of the 19th century from south-west Germany to Georgia and present-day Azerbaijan. Their deportation by Stalin in 1941 concluded their short and turbulent history. The social memory of the Germans, especially in their former villages, is still rich, controversial and an outstanding example of the difficult relations of ethnicities in a highly contested region.
Twenty students from the three South Caucasian states and Germany discovered a complex image of Caucasus Germans that were, on the one hand, admired because of their economic and agricultural talent. But on the other hand, they were also envied and distrusted because of their supposedly snobbish behaviour, their support from Russia and their economic success.
The topic of ‘Caucasus Germans’ shows how ethnicities are constructed, conflictual relations explained with different ethnicities (by the local population) and how stereotypes are shaping interethnic contacts. Our approach was therefore entering the contemporary similar problems in the Caucasus by the backdoor: it gave to the local students the possibility to research conflictual interethnic relations in the Caucasus without being directly involved to it.
Caucasus, Conflict, Culture 2
Transgressing Conflicts from Below: Interethnic Contacts in Border Villages in the Southern Caucasus (Akhaltsikhe, 18.08.2012 – 01.09.2012)
Borders are institutions of inter-state divisions. In the Caucasus, they are until today highly contested. These borders play an important role in the nationalist agendas of the South Caucasian countries as excluding and insurmountable barriers in the local landscapes. At a closer look at the border regions, however, the situation is quite different. Border villages on both sides maintain intensive contacts and more often than not find a modus operandi in economic and social relations even in areas of latent conflict.
The aims of this research project for students was to study these relationships that are transgressing borders and facilitate interethnic contacts between border villages in the conflict-torn social landscape of the Southern Caucasus. By focusing on transborder contacts, a topic closely related to the conflicts in the region, we wanted to enter into a discussion about the political and historical formation of current conflicts by focusing on specific empirical phenomena that transgress conflicts from below.
Caucasus, Conflict, Culture 1
Anthropology and the Prevention of Conflicts in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (Tbilisi, 31.10.-05.11.2011)
Dialogues, discussions and joint in-depth analysis of regional conflicts, accompanied by intensive student workshops among anthropologists were the key elements of the symposium in Tbilisi. The symposium aimed at analysing the everyday experience of conflict and identified the potential of culturally embedded local conflict resolution mechanisms.
The conflicts in the South Caucasus are most generally explored at the state or supra-regional levels. Political actors and material interests are crucial factors in the mobilisation of ethnic groups and cultural boundaries in the various conflicts in the region. However, ethnic categories, nationalism and the cultural landscape are crucial and maybe not freely disposable factors in political decisions.
Anthropology has shown the relevance of ‘culture’ in the understanding of conflict dynamics and its impact on political decision-making. The local experience of ethnic boundaries, nationalistic imaginations, inter-cultural relations in everyday life, expressions of fear and the social memory of conflicts are central issues in contemporary anthropological research. ‘Traditional’ techniques of conflict resolution and reconciliation are possibly promising tools in conflict resolution processes.