Studien zur kulturellen Semantik
[Naming and Claiming Georgia. Studies on cultural semantics]
The (southern) Caucasus, the geographical area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, today comprises the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia, which are only recognised by a few states under international law. Since ancient times, this region has been the site of religious, political, cultural and economic conflicts between historically changing powers, be they small, regional or imperial.
The cultural heterogeneity of ‘the Caucasus’ is not only expressed in ethnic, religious and linguistic differences. It is also manifest in a vast number of ancient Greek, Roman, Jewish, Hellenistic, Byzantine, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Russian and Western European narratives and myths, which are interrelated in complicated ways. The complexity of the Caucasus is furthermore due to its complicated proximity to the respective superpowers.
The authors of this book examine the symbolic and affective reinterpretations of this site in a dialogue between Russian, Georgian and Abkhazian perspectives. Here, Russian stands for the imperial, Georgian for the national and Abkhazian for the minority perspective. In their historical reconstruction the authors follow developments from the ‘invention’ of the Caucasus (especially in the 19th century) to its reinterpretations, from the emergence of the Abkhazian nation and the ‘discovery’ of the Black Sea to the present division of the Caucasus.