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The Georgian Feast and Azeri Carpet: A Cultural Exploration through Metaphors

Document Type

Feature Article

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2007

Publication Title

Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD 2(2)


Faculty Mentor Alan Lambert:

This study seeks to show the utility of metaphors as a tool for under- standing a new culture. Many travelers find cultures very different from their own difficult to understand due to a lack of sufficient means to navigate the culture. Psychological research suggests that metaphor can be very useful when trying to understand new and complicated concepts. The authors traveled to two countries infrequently visited by Americans, the Republic of Georgia and Azerbaijan, and developed a metaphor for each: the Georgian feast and Azeri carpet. Metaphors were investigated through literary research before and after the trip, as well as from interviews conducted with Georgian and Azeri citizens during the trip. This paper will summarize research on and theories of metaphor, provide a brief overview of the Georgian feast and Azeri car- pet, and give examples of how these metaphors can be used to under- stand the politics and society of the two countries. The interviews and historical research show that understanding the feast and carpet can facilitate one’s understanding of the people and customs of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Rather than referring to the rules of one’s own culture or using the typical travel guide, travelers can rely on the flexibility of a cultural metaphor to guide their exploration of a new culture.

From the Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD, Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring 2007. Published by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Henry Biggs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Joy Zalis Kiefer, Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Editor, and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Kristin Sobotka, Co-editor.


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