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B. Tsipuria:Georgian Literature, Colonialism and National Identity

Few assumptions, and few questions are suggested in this paper: colonial reality of past two centuries in Georgian history influenced the development of strong nation-oriented texts in Georgian literature; cultivation of national themes in literature significantly supported the process of unification of nation’s moods, aspirations and expectations, thus Georgian literature of this period can be seen as a major area for the development of modern Georgian national identity; however, within post-colonial reality we can feel that Georgian identity is still tied to the models and moods shaped under a colonial rule. Which are the points in Georgian identity that need some modification and adaptation to new reality, and how Georgian literature can now contribute to this process?

Georgia spent two centuries as a part of another state – the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and the USSR in most of the 20th. In Georgian social and cultural understanding, this period is characterized by colonial dependence on Russia. It should be mentioned that despite conflictive political relations with several neighboring super-states throughout the centuries, this was, in fact, the first officially colonial period for the country during the long historic existence of Georgian ethno-national identity, as well as of Georgia as a state. This dependent relationship influenced the whole cultural process and affected the specifics of cultural development. Georgian writers, and especially poets, earned authority as national leaders, and Georgian poetry became a manifestation of patriotic moods. It popularized national ideas and activated popular cultural orientation toward the national history, glory and heroism of the Georgian state of the past and the independent state of the future. Thus the nation’s affection for poetical, artistic self-expression supported the preservation of the Georgian language and the development of Georgian culture, and these two supported the survival and development of Georgian national identity. Due to the historical circumstances, this was an identity approved culturally and not politically. In Soviet Georgia this mission-oriented process conditioned the formation of a well-shaped, well-determined cultural space that may be called a National Narrative Culture, which had its own aesthetic (realistic), thematic and representational preferences, and a wide circle of recipients—in fact, the whole nation. In the post-Stalin period, this cultural space became a dominant fact. With almost no disturbance it coexisted with the Soviet cultural space (that was modeled and supported from the Russian centre) within state-owned and controlled book editions, periodicals, TV and radio broadcasts, and public meetings.

Although the National Narrative Culture contributed a lot to the process of preserving Georgian national identity in Soviet colonial times, it’s philosophy, and also new texts produced within this cultural space in last two decades mostly can not address the issues occurred in rapidly changing reality of post-colonial Georgia.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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