The Image of the West in Georgia after Independence (Main Tendencies)

Irakli Chkhaidze


Georgia is among the countries to which identity crisis and exclusive nationalism posed serious problems at the dawn of independence and determined political and social disintegration. The situation changed in the subsequent period and, in parallel to strengthening pro-European political aspirations, Georgian national project gradually acquired civil characteristics. The paper analyses the post-Soviet experience of the country in terms of the West’s symbolic as well as real role in the Georgian public discourse.
Since the late 1980s independence became the ultimate purpose for the national movement which emerged in the Soviet republic of Georgia. After achieving the goal and gaining sovereignty in the early 1990s, building of an independent democratic state represented a crucial challenge for the Georgian society. In the process of deconstruction of the Soviet system Georgians started looking for new identity construction and a place within the international system. From that time the idea of Georgia’s European origin and tight relations with the West has broken into the Georgian public and academic discourse. The “Europeanness” still plays one of the key roles in Georgian identity discourse, but attitudes towards Europe are not unequivocally positive. Following the process of Euro Atlantic integration on the political level, featured as the major message of the Georgian national project, fear and mistrust of Europe (and of the West in General) eventually conquered part of the Georgian society.
The paper tries to explore the two separated as well as closely interrelated tendencies in Georgia for a short period of the post-Socialist independence. The study of identity and national discourses are a new trend in Georgian humanities and social sciences. Many issues in this respect are still to be analyzed with the use of recent theories and new methodological approaches. There are only a few works that review the subject of my research from the above perspective. Despite having rich and diverse empirical material, most of it is not systematized within certain theoretical approaches. This reality itself determines the importance of the issue of the research.

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