The South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF SC) has been operating since 2003. For 12 years it has been working hard to promote democracy and fair social and political systems in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. One of the key tools used for this purpose is reflection over the variety of aspects of public life that compose the overall political and social development of the South Caucasus nations. Social research is one of the instruments that facilitate understanding of transformation processes and allow for reflection on the state of societies.
This is why the HBF SC decided to actively engage young social scientists and researchers in its Regional Scholarship Programme. It is an effort to give voice to promising beginning scholars in the region by giving them a channel for expressing their knowledge of their respective societies and raising issues they see as important and worthy of deliberation.
Over its 10 years of existence, the HBF SC regional scholarship programme has benefited 127 young social scientists and published seven selections of articles (containing 74 articles) produced by its alumni: [a] Identity, Power and the City in the Works of Young Social Scientists in the South Caucasus (2005); [b] South Caucasus: Spaces, Histories, People (2006); [c] Figuring out the South Caucasus: Societies and Environment (2008); [d] The New South Caucasus: Overcoming Old Boundaries (2008); [e] City, Migration, Markets: New Studies in Social Science from the South Caucasus (2011); [f] Observing Transformation: Adaptation Strategies in the South Caucasus (2011); [g] Changing Identities: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (2012).
Scholarly works published in the framework of the HBF SC regional scholarship programme should not be viewed as the only outcome of the programme. The social-political issues raised and acute problems of transformation revealed have given impetus for debating, discussing and deliberating problems of culture and identity, local politics and democracy, urban and sustainable development, and gender democracy and minority rights throughout the South Caucasus.
The knowledge and communication networks established and developed in the framework of the regional scholarship programme have grown into variety of activities by the HBF SC, its partners and alumni. Once given proper stimulus, the mechanism of multiplying knowledge of social and political developments gets stronger over time. Continued academic research, joint cross-border initiatives, cooperation and civic activism based on ideas and visions emerging from the programme still surprise the observer with the endless scope of the work conducted in frames of the HBF SC regional scholarship programme.
After its 10-year anniversary, the scholarship programme was transformed into the Green Academy of the HBF SC, which is to serve as a platform to promote the values and principles of Green politics in the South Caucasus, it is still important to offer the scholarly works that should be brought to the attention of interested parties in academia, politics, and social sciences in order to deepen understanding of the South Caucasus's uneasy transformation. The present publication, "From Private to Public: Transformation of Social Spaces in the South Caucasus", unlike its predecessors, focuses on linkages between the transformation of private spaces and the social impact of this process in terms of defining the notion of 'public' in the context of public activism and the changing nature of public life in the societies of the South Caucasus.
This selection unites 11 articles written by Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian alumni of the HBF SC regional scholarship programme from the years 2011, 2013 and 2014. These papers focus on understanding the inherent changes that have occurred in the South Caucasus societies recently. The publication will provide a valuable observation of the last decade of social and political developments in the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian societies through the prism of the professional and academic experiences of local scholars. Hopefully, it will give relevant food for thought to their colleagues and counterparts abroad who are interested in the region and who work on the social and political democratization of the three nations of the South Caucasus.