We are Two Nations: Bivocal Nationalism

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: IRES Library, Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor
  • Lecturer: Nutsa Batiashvili, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Free University of Tbilisi, and IRES Visiting Researcher
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Mattias Vesterlund
  • Föreläsning

This lecture is based on the argument I develop in my book „The Bivocal Nation: Memory and Identity on the Edge of Empire“ (2018, Palgrave Macmillan). By tracing the formation of Georgian nationalism from 19th century to contemporary Georgia, I examine division and polarization as forms of imagining rooted in culture and historicity. This paper is an invitation to view not unity and commonality, but a sense of division and fragmentation as part of the “banal nationalism” (Billig, 1995), where the rhetoric of boundary-making draws the lines between us and our internal others or internal otherness; where references to internal division become both a form of self-deprecating rhetoric and a discursive construct that mediates imagining a community. I will outline the contours of Georgian nationalism, by tracing the variants of nationalist discourse that exemplify forms of national imagination rooted in internal frictions and oppositions, the kind of imagination that I describe using the term “bivocal” indicating simultaneity of two distinctive voices in a single discursive practice (Batiashvili, 2018). I will focus on several distinct instantiations of bivocal imagination from the roots of nation-making efforts (19th century) to the contemporary Georgia and will try to provide historical context for meaningful interpretation of the examples I invoke.

Nutsa Batiashvili is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Dean of the Graduate School at the Free University of Tbilisi. She holds PhD in Anthropology from Washington University in St Louis, USA and MA and BA in Psychology from Tbilisi State University. She has been awarded postdoctoral fellowships from Oxford University in 2016 and 2020. Her research is situated at the intersection of cultural anthropology, memory studies, nationalism studies and the interdisciplinary field of cognitive sciences, with a particular interest in political affect and cognition. Her book The Bivocal Nation: Memory and Identity on the Edge of Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) is about a divided nation and polarized notions of nationhood. Her current research project on the Anthropology of Anxiety is funded by Wenner-Gren Foundation and an ethnographic research on The Political and Affective Agency of Heritage Objects in Upper Svaneti is funded by Templeton Foundation.