Georgi Derluguian

The non-recognition of Abkhazia, ironically enough, extends to the analytical misrecognition of its taking part in the wave of East European 'colored revolutions' during the 2000s.

The scholars studying Abkhazia traditionally focus on the language and folkloric anthropology or the contentious political history and jurisprudence of Abkhazia's relations with Russia and Georgia. In the meantime Abkhazia has been developing surprisingly active internal politics where sparks are flying and a few bullets, too. At the center of this politics, like elsewhere in Europe, is the creation of  state capacity — as opposed to the private  force and privilege vested in political clans and oligarchic families.

A related process is the forging of national allegiance as opposed to the private kinship, 'friendly', and clientilistic allegiances. Perhaps many Abkhazes (or Georgians, or Armenians)  would feel scandalized to be at all questioned regarding their sentiments of being Abkhaz, but what actually happens when an Abkhaz faces a starker choice between state interests and obligations to his relatives? The answer can no longer be assumed. This was proven in the post-Ardzinba successions by the fault lines of internal politics running oftentimes even within the families. This is a fascinating object of study in real time. For the peoples of the Caucasus the institutional outcomes of  internal political processes in Abkhazia could have huge import.

Georgi Derluguian
Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University, Chicago. Author of the "Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-Systems" (University of Chicago Press, 2005) USA

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