Caucasus, Conflict, Culture 6
Civic Activism: Engaging the State in the South Caucasus
Research Project for Students
The image of the passive post-soviet citizen has recently come under criticism: the focus on formal structures and a Western model of civil society have obstructed the view on actual micro-mobilizations and short-term informal activities that have taken place since the early 2000s. The student research project focused on the increasing number of such micro-mobilizations in the South Caucasus. Activists protesting against neoliberal urban development, state corruption or for civil rights have been in-spired by alter-globalization and Occupy movements or by guerrilla gardening.
The student research project did study civic activism in terms of practices and notions of political participation that engage the state ‘from below’. We did focus on two kinds of activism that are of specific salience across the Caucasus and the wider post-Soviet space: claims to space and claims to voice. Another core aim of the project was to engender the experience of working together in multinational teams: 20 students from the three South Caucasus countries and Germany were introduced to the practice of fieldwork, anthropological methodology and the organization of a research project.