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Turkish Studies Project Conference in Georgia

Deadline: 15 October, 2012
Open to:  Everyone interested in the topic
Venue: Tbilisi,  Georgia (6-8 June 2013)

The Caucasus at the Imperial Twilight

Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Nation-Building, from 1870s to  1920s

Organizers: The University of Utah (USA), Tbilisi State  University (Georgia)
Co-Sponsors: Istanbul Technical  University, Yildiz Technical University (Turkey)

The Turkish Studies Project at the University of Utah is organizing a two-day  long conference to examine the formation and evolution of ethnic and national  identities in the Caucasus, to be held in Tbilisi, Georgia, in June 2013. With  its thematic emphasis on transregional connections and interstate competition  after the turn of the century, this conference considers the formation of modern  realities in the Caucasus as inherently tied to the collapse of three imperial  orders, the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia, and Qajar Iran. Accordingly,  preference will be given to papers that situate the broader intellectual,  political and socio-economic currents in each imperial space within the proper  Caucasian context. The conference will focus on the following set of questions:  What were the social and political origins of nation-building in the Caucasus?  How did the conflict between three empires shape the social and political  formations in the Caucasus? What are the legacies of these three empires?  What were the long-term consequences of World War I? Did the war set the pattern  of ethnic and/or religious cleansing in the region? How should one approach the  study of nation and state-building?

This conference is part of the conference series initiated by the Turkish  Studies Project at the University of Utah. The first conference, with a thematic  focus on the Berlin Treaty of 1878, was held successfully in early April 2010,  and an edited volume was published in 2011. The second conference on the origins  and consequences of the Balkan Wars, expected to be published in late 2012, is  under editorial process. The third conference, which examined the social and  political implications of World War I, was held in Sarajevo in May 2012, and the  papers selected after the due peer-review process will be published in late  2013.  Fourth in the conference series, the Tbilisi meeting will provide a  stimulating venue for senior and junior scholars to present the most recent and  cutting-edge research on the themes of the conference. The papers presented and  discussed in Tbilisi will be compiled in an edited volume after a strict  peer-review process.

Themes of the conference

The major themes of the conference are as follows: Imperial  Collapse, Russian Orientalism, Center-periphery  interactions, State and Nation-Building, Nationalism, Ethnicity and  Religion, Popular Memory and Politics of Memory Human Agency vs.  Structure,
Caucasus as the Borderland and Interstate and Intercommunal  Rivalries.

Thematically, the panels will focus on the following four areas:

1. Arguments and Historical Methods: What are the main narratives of national  historiographies of the Caucasian people? What are the main issues and questions  in the historiography of the new nation-states in the Caucasus? What types of  questions are raised? What is the hegemonic methodology and discourse in these  works? Which methods have been effective and ineffective in studying the  processes of nation and state-building?

2. Memory in Literature, Art and Music: How do national historiographies  construe literature, art and music to portray these nations?  How do  Turkish, Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian societies try to preserve and  construct the memories of major wars and external interventions? What is  remembered and what is forgotten, and how does selective memory come to  dominate? What are the norms for describing brutality, suffering and  victimization? How does each nation construct itself as a victim of external  forces? What are the main themes in these national memoirs? What are the  drawbacks and benefits of such memories?

3. Social and Diplomatic History: What are the connections between diplomatic  and social history in theorizing about the violent nature of ethnic or religious  conflicts? How did imperial rivalries clash with local power struggle? How did  local power struggle bring external interventions?
What were the major social  and economic factors in the formation and evolution of nations in the region?  How did these ethnic and cultural groups evolve into nation?

4. Trauma and Imprints on Caucasus States: What were the short and long-term  effects of the wars on the identity formations? What was the impact of the  imperial rivalries on the decision of the nationalist elite during and after  World War One? What were the effects of World War I on the emergence of modern  nations in the Caucasus?


The organizers will provide accommodation and meals for the duration of the  conference but the organizers would be grateful if you first contact your own  institution to cover the expenses of travel to and from Tbilisi,  Georgia. Participants should arrive at Tbilisi airport by 6 pm on the  evening of Thursday June 6. The conference will begin on the morning of June 7  (Friday), and end in the late afternoon of June.

Application process

The organizers wish to receive the title of your paper and a 300-500 word  abstract by October 15, 2012, and a first draft by March 15, 2013. The planned  edited volume that will feature the papers presented in this conference is set  for publication in the course of the year 2014.

The organizers:

M. Hakan Yavuz , University of Utah
Umut Uzer, Istanbul Technical  University
Alexander Kvitashvili, President of  Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University

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