A regional house…of cards? Discursive and imaginative processes of region-building within and around Georgia

Alessandra Russo

Abstract


In spite of the alleged failure or dysfunction of post-Soviet regionalism(s), political and cultural elites from different post-Soviet countries often refer to the “regionals”, making them meaningful even in the absence of effective and coherent regional institutions. Whereas Georgia represents in many ways an outlier in the post-Soviet area, its foreign policy narratives and state identity are quite affected by the reference to various ideas of the region, independently of its institutional setting. Accordingly, the paper seeks to explain Georgia’s “making of the self” through patterns of “regional association” and “regional disassociation”.

The paper looks at this phenomenon through constructivist lenses, premising on the assumption that regions might come into existence also as discursive configurations not enshrined by formal structures or embedded in institutions.

The paper thus attempts to trace Georgia’s regional imaginaries through qualitative techniques of data collection. After having identified Georgia’s regional imaginaries, tentative explanations are provided, on the one hand accounting for the role of path dependencies, i.e. the organizing capacity of “historical regions” and the “shadow of the past”; on the other hand, casting light on the international processes of knowledge production about Georgia, in particular, and the post-Soviet region, in general.


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