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Diana Zadura:Georgian Identity and the Symbolic Politics after Rose Revolution

Since Rose Revolution (November, 2003) and taking the power over by Micheil Saakashvili many changes were initiated in Georgian national and state symbolic. New state flag, emblem and anthem were introduced as if a totally new country came into being. Much has changed also in the national discourse of political elites. The new political regime is widely referring to national feelings using most popular symbols of Georgian victory and pride from the past. Historical successes are being revitalized in order to keep up Georgian national spirit and make people believe that Georgia may be a successful country once again.

One of the symbolic points of reference is the painful issue of lost Georgian lands (Abkhazia and so called South Ossetia). What is repeatedly underlined is the historical Georgianness of these regions and their importance for the new reborn Georgia. Here we have an example of a Heroes` Square (gmirTa moedani) monument dedicated to dead soldiers fighting for a unified Georgia at the beginning of the 90s. The idea of the monument was most obviously an initiative of Micheil Saakashvili - head of the town council at the time when the monument was opened - 2002 and a leader of National Movement Party which motto explicitly says: "Georgia will be united” (saqarTvelo iqneba mTliani). Moreover what is additionally symbolic is that the monument as the only one in Tbilisi was granted a guard of honour what makes it a high rank national commemoration venue. At the very beginning of his presidency Saakashvili took an oath at the grave of king David the Builder (aRmaSenebeli) in Gelati that it is an aim of his life to unite Georgia. From then on he and his team have made plenty of references to the Georgian golden age and the idea of a multi-ethnic nation coexisting peacefully in Georgia. It is most apparently Saakashvili` s ambition to become a David the Builder of our time and start a new golden age in Georgian history.

It was also about after Rose Revolution that a previously folk motto "Strength in unity” (Zala ertobaSia) was promoted to a top rank state motto inscribed at the state emblem. This motto has been since often used in Saakashvili` s speeches referring to the tradition of tolerance and ethnic diversity. It has been of great concern of the post-revolutionary regime to improve social integration in this multi-ethnic country and also make non-Georgians identify themselves with Georgia as their homeland. It has been acknowledged as important to engage ethnic minorities into the process of re-building Georgia after a long time of historical downfall. The ethnic diversity is presented as a value itself not an obstacle. Many symbolic and strictly political moves prove that a civic type of nation, an idea of non-ethnic but a based on common state nation is being promoted.

One of the best occasions to demonstrate national feelings typically is the Independence Day which has become a manifestation of a new Georgian military power. The parades visually convince people that the current political regime wants Georgia to regain its once lost power and glory.

What` s interesting: in 2004 a new national holiday appeared: the Rose Revolution anniversary – celebrated since then with a precisely considered ceremony. One of the symbolic actions which prove that Rose Revolution is being presented as a cornerstone of a reborn Georgia is the monument dedicated to this event. The Rose Revolution monument was unveiled in Mziuri Park 26th May 2007. Putting these two events together gives ground to think that there exists an intention to make the 2003 political breakthrough particularly memorable in Georgian national consciousness. This event is being symbolically promoted as the newest national victory. A victory which enabled Georgia to restore its proper civilizational belonging to be   a part of Europe again. Along with this a relatively strong anti-communist symbolic steps were undertaken such as opening of the Soviet Occupation Museum and reburial of Kakuca Cholokashvili – a hero of the last anti-communist uprising in 1924.

Following the diverse symbolic actions (decisions, speeches, public appearances) which can be commonly referred to as discourse makes think that a new type of national identity and new vision of Georgian nation is being introduced.

The herein considered symbolic actions are very much consistent with political goals of the post-revolutionary regime in Georgia. And they also seem to create a consistent symbolic discourse. In my paper using visual materials and citations I present a series of symbolic actions with my interpretation of them.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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