Identity, Power and the City in the Works of Young Social Scientists in the South Caucasus

This volume contains a collection of papers presenting the individual research of young social scientists from Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.  The projects were carried out in 2004, within the framework of a scholarship program run by the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

The authors have taken interdisciplinary approaches to subjects that are of fundamental importance for the understanding of social and political processes in the societies of the South Caucasus, but which are hardly touched upon in public debate, or even fall into the realm of taboo to some extent.  And yet anyone who attempts to foster social modernization and democratization in this region has to take a critical look at these very themes at some point.

The articles in the first section of the book deal historically and sociologically with the changes in concepts of religious, ethnic, and national identity in the societies of the South Caucasus that took place during the 20th century.  They investigate the shifts in the meaning of ethnic identity, the function and operation of stereotypes, the roles the various religions play in the state and the society, and the significance that historiography has for the construction of identities in the region’s post-Soviet societies.

The second section deals with the forms of the informal exercise of power and with the informal regulation of access to power.  These informal patterns are often far more potent than officially proclaimed and legalized forms of power.  Informal networks, informal communication, and the admission or exclusion of women to or from certain positions of power all play an important role in this respect.  One paper also deals with the role that the press plays in the formation of power, or countervailing power.

The papers in the third section are devoted primarily to practical questions concerning the sustainable, environmentally sound development of various South Caucasian cities.  They deal with concrete environmental and infrastructure problems affecting urban centres and with the development potentials of smaller cities.  Hopefully, these papers will contribute to raising the profile of a discipline that is still very little known in the region: urban studies, the scientific study of the highly complex phenomenon of the city.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Regional Scholarship Program for the South Caucasus has two major objectives:

  • It hopes to encourage young researchers to take on interdisciplinary, individual research projects and to contribute to the renewal of the social sciences in the region through the use of innovative research methods.
  • It seeks to construct a cross-border network of young, highly qualified specialists that can serve as a framework within which cross-border projects in the field of socio-political education and social science research can be carried out. 

The editors hope that this volume will provide interesting information not just to a specialized public, but to anyone interested in the political and social developments in the South Caucasus or involved in civil society initiatives.  We also hope that this publication will create doorways to the international scientific “community” for these young scientists and, by doing so, encourage the process of opening up South Caucasian societies to the international exchange of ideas and opinions.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the experts in and outside of the South Caucasus who are guiding and supporting our scholarship program with their scientific expertise and personal commitment.

Tbilisi, July 2005

Walter Kaufmann
Director of the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Nino Lejava
Scholarship Program Coordinator


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Heinrich Boell Foundation
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Table of contents

Modern History
Nesrin Alaskerova: Islam in Azerbaijan: history and modernity
Ruslan Baramidze: Islam and its Particularities in Adjara
Nata Gabinashvili: Georgian Youth (students) Ethnic Stereotypes
Hayk Demoyan: Changed Meaning of Ethnic and Denominational Belonging in the South Caucasus
Manana Javakhishvili: What It Means to Be a Catholic in 20th Century Georgia
Tigran Zakaryan: The Construction of the Armenian Diaspora’s Identity and the Memory of the Armenian Geocide
Mikael Zolyan: Historical Narrative and the Representations of a Conflict (Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Revisited)
Iva Mindadze: Collective Memory and Group Identity
Maia Nadiradze: The Monastyrskis – the Story of One Family
Sergey Rumyantsev:  In Search of the Future: the Migration Situation in Azerbaijan, 2004
Mariam Sekhniashvili: Analysis of Major Factors Affecting the Success of Women in Post-Soviet Georgia
Irene Sulkhanishvili: Religion in a Modern State and Society: Georgia’s Educational System – Background for an Open Society or a Way Towards Extremism?
Aynur Bashirova: Does The Media Influence Policy?
Tatevik Margaryan: Formal and Informal Relations Among Local Self-Governance Bodies in Armenia
Sopo Chachanidze: Bureaucracy and Informal Structures in Municipalities
Aysel Yusifzadeh: Formal and Informal Use of Authority in Azerbaijan
Sustainable Urban Development
Arman Vermishyan: Sustainable Management of Municipal Solid Waste in Ijevan
Zarina Jafarova: Problems and Potentials of Towns and Cities Based on the Example of the Cities of Ganja, Shamkir and Khana
Natia Jokhadze: Complex Modernization and Rehabilitation Program of First Generation mass Housing (Tbilisi Case Study)
Lilit Petrosyan: The State of Public Transport in Yerevan and Measures to Increase Its Efficiency
Anush Khachatrian:  The Drainage System of Kiagrizov in Gyumri
Lasha Chkhartishvili: Problems With Municipal Solid Waste Management in the City of Tbilisi and Possible Solutions