The Reflection of the Ethnical Terms “Caucasus” and “Caucasian” in Georgian Literature

Irma Ratiani


Contemporary Georgian Literature offers interesting interpretations of the terms “Caucasus” and “Caucasian,” but the discussion about this problem was started much earlier, in the beginning of 19th century, when the livening up of the ethnical concepts of “Caucasus” and “Caucasian” was witnessed in Georgian literature and public thinking. The historical shift of Georgia into the new epoch of colonialism, which can alternatively be called “The Epoch of Russian Colonialism”, caused the accentuation of the above mentioned concepts. Russia used the privilege of the orthodox country, confronted Georgians with non- Christian people of the Caucasus and deprived them from their political independence. The reaction of Georgians towards Russian colonialism was characterized by double standards, which were clearly reflected in Georgian literature of the period of Romanticism, first of all, in relation to the interpretation of the concepts “Caucasus” and “Caucasian.”
The genuine goal of the colonial policy and their social strategies were pointed out clearly in the 1850–60s. The Georgians’ response to colonialism was modified and the previous ambivalent status was replaced by the radical confrontation: the main goal became the idea of the peaceful Caucasus on the condition of protection of national identities.
The problem became rather different and more complicated in 20th century Georgian literature, when the relation towards the ethnical problem was newly established within the frame of Soviet ideology and offered the different, non-ethnical interpretation of the terms “Caucasus” and “Caucasian”: the national boarders were ignored and integrated within the model of Homo Sovieticus. Later, when the Soviet regime was destroyed, the terms “the Caucasus” and “Caucasian” caused the establishment of a new type of discourse, which determined the new interpretational standard of Georgian literature of the end of 20th century and the beginning of 21st century.


Caucasus; Caucasian; Russian colonialism; Georgian literature; National identity

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236