The First Republics (1918-1920/21) in the South Caucasus: Brief Experiences of Statehood

Date: October 11-12, 2021

Online Conference via Zoom platform

Language: Georgian, English, and Russian (simultaneous translation will be provided)

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Read in Georgian, Read in Armenian, Read in Azerbaijani, Read in Russian.

Memory Conference banner 2021

The Heinrich Boell Foundation Tbilisi Office – South Caucasus region, together with Ilia State University and the Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB), organizes the South Caucasus Regional Conference on Memory Politics to address the foundations and legacy of the first independent republics in the South Caucasus (SC). While it is true that these republics were short-lived in terms of longevity due to the invasion of the Red Army, new interpretations of their legacy were fundamental for the post-Soviet nation- and state-building processes. Recently, there has been a certain revival and acknowledgment of the importance of the period of 1918-20/21 among scholars and academics, however, it is crucial that different actors such as academics, public intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and policy makers continue to systematically analyze and discuss this important period of history. Thus, together with our speakers, we will try to unpack on the one hand, the geopolitical reality and internal developments that led to the declaration of the independence of the first republics. On the other hand, we will focus on the political models and reforms undertaken in different spheres by the political and intellectual elites. The key question for the conference is how much we can learn from the experience of the first republics in terms of today’s state-building. 

By bringing together academics, researchers and students from different disciplines, such as history, political science, and anthropology, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, together with its partners, supports research and discussion on the important topics of memory politics and contributes to the process of democratic development in the South Caucasus region. 

Day 1: October 11, 2021

12:00 - 12:15 (Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan time)

Welcome Speech by Dr. Sonja Schiffers, Head of Office, Heinrich Boell Foundation Tbilisi Office – South Caucasus Region and Giorgi Gvalia, Professor of International Relations, Vice Rector, Ilia State University.

12:15 - 13:15 Ketevan Gurchiani, Professor, Ilia State University in conversation with Timothy Blauvelt, Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies, Ilia State University about the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic of 1918: Federal Aspirations, Geopolitics and National Projects.

13:15 - 14:45 Panel Discussion (I): The Political Ideals of the First Republics: Forgotten Models of Statehood?


-      Richard Hovannisian, Historian and Professor emeritus at the University of California;

-       Irakli Iremadze, PhD student in History, Tbilisi State University;

-       Dr. Nigar Maxwell, Azerbaijan National Academy of Science;

        Moderation: Natalia Alhazishvili, Director, Ziari Press, and Member of the Board, SOVLAB.

14:45 - 15:00 Break

15:00 - 16:30 Panel Discussion (II): The Establishment of National Institutions as a Milestone: The Cultural and Educational Policies of the First Republics


-       Altay Göyüshov, Historian, Baku Research Institute;

-       Lilit Mkrtchyan, PhD in History, Yerevan State University;

-       Lela Gaprindashvili, Philosopher, Professor at Tbilisi State University;

        Moderation: Nika Musavi, Writer and Freelance Journalist.

Day 2:  October 12, 2021

15:00 - 16:30 Panel Discussion (III): Rewriting History: Changing Official Narratives About the First Republics of the SC in Soviet and Post-Soviet Historiography


-     Irakli Khvadagiani, Researcher, Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB);

-     Naira Sahakyan, PhD in Humanities, Center for Culture and Civilization Studies and American University of Armenia;

-     Sevil Huseynova, Social Anthropologist, Humboldt University of Berlin - Institute for European Ethnology;

      Moderation: Eviya Hovhannisyan, Heinrich Boell Foundation.

16:30 - 17:45 Break

17:45 - 19:15 Panel Discussion (IV): The Legacy of the First Republics from Today’s Perspectives


-          Ashot Voskanyan, PhD in Philosophy, Armenian Research Center in Humanities;

-         Dimitri Silakadze, visiting lecturer, History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Ilia State University; 

-         Dr. habil. Zaur Gasimov, University of Bonn;

          Moderation: Elene Kekelia, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia.

19:15 - 19:40 Sum-up of the Conference