Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

James V Wertsch


This study examines two distinct but mutually constitutive discursive genres on Georgian identity: one based in the voice of self-idealization and the other in self-condemnation. These two genres are embedded in historical conceptions and enact public debate on the country's geopolitical challenges. The ethnographic material I examine, unveils politically strained discursive terrain that unfolds as a "game of memory" between two visions of Georgian history, Georgian identity and Georgian geopolitics.

Throughout this study I examine how these two voices unfold through debates on historical memory and how they shape forms of political reasoning. On the basis of diverse textual and ethnographic material I suggest that in Georgian public discourse individuals employ "history" as a culturally meaningful, rhetorical resource to reflect upon "who we are" because memory functions as a fundamental symbolic form that speaks to the core of national consciousness. Georgians conceive of their past in a way that presupposes the co-existence of two contradictory registers of "Georgianness", and framing the past in historical narratives reflects what I shall refer to as the bivocal nature of both Georgians' memory and their way of thinking about themselves. This is a bivocality involving mythically idealized terms, on the one hand, and critical self-condemning terms, on the other. I argue that two contradictory voices that articulate Georgia's past and Georgian identity belong not so much to distinct speakers as to discursive domains that exist within, as well as between speakers. Whether it is a casual communicative exchange or critical debate in which Georgian memory enters the discursive realm, it can sustain two distinct, but mutually interdefining discursive modes on Georgia's past and Georgian identity.


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