Strangers in a Strange Land: Occidentalist Publics and Orientalist Geographies in Nineteenth‐Century Georgian Imaginaries

Strangers in a Strange Land: Occidentalist Publics and Orientalist Geographies in Nineteenth‐Century Georgian Imaginaries

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Paul Manning

Series: Cultural Revolutions: Russia in the Twentieth Century
ISBN: 9781936235766 (hardcover), 9781618118318 (paperback)
Pages: 348 pp.
Publication Date: June 2012

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Manning examines the formation of nineteenth-century intelligentsia print publics in the former Soviet republic of Georgia both anthropologically and historically. At once somehow part of “Europe,” at least aspirationally, and yet rarely recognized by others as such, Georgia attempted to forge European style publics as a strong claim to European identity. These attempts also produced a crisis of self-definition, as European Georgia sent newspaper correspondents into newly reconquered Oriental Georgia, only to discover that the people of these lands were strangers. In this encounter, the community of “strangers” of European Georgian publics proved unable to assimilate the people of the “strange land” of Oriental Georgia. This crisis produced both notions of Georgian public life and European identity which this book explores.

Paul Manning (PhD University of Chicago) is an associate professor of Anthropology at Trent University. His recent publications include “The Epoch of Magna: Capitalist Brands and Postsocialist Revolutions in Georgia” (Slavic Review), “Rose-Colored Glasses? Color Revolutions and Cartoon Chaos in Postsocialist Georgia” (Cultural Anthropology), and “Materiality and Cosmology: Old Georgian Churches as Sacred, Sublime, and Secular Objects” (Ethnos).

. . . The book promises to play a key role in the further development of Caucasian and Georgian studies, and it opens new territories for exploration and investigation by a hopefully expanded reading public or ‘imagined community of scholars.’ Particularly relevant here, Manning makes a major contribution by demonstrating how Georgians themselves put together many familiar tropes about the Caucasus stemming from the Russian ‘geopoetic and geopolitics’ of Romantic poetry and literature, including the ‘imperial sublime’ and the feminization of Orthodox Georgia as the ‘oriental beauty’.
— Julie A. Christensen, George Mason University, in the Slavic and East European Journal, 58.2 (Summer 2014)
This is a sophisticated exploration of the complex and often contradictory elements of nation-building and identity-formation in Georgia in the second half of the nineteenth century. Manning, has an extraordinary understanding of the subtleties of Georgian writing. Drawing on Gerogian newspapers, poetry, and short stories, and focusing on Georgia’s encounters with Europe, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire, he weaves together a complex challenge to the familiar Western tropes of the imagined community. Manning has produced a novel theoretical contribution to our ideas about the role of intellectuals in national identity formation.
— Stephen F. Jones, Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies, Mount Holyoke College, and author of Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917

Table of Contents

Introduction: Europe Started Here

I: Languages of Nature, Culture, and Civilization: Letters of a Traveler
II: Imperial and Colonial Sublime: The Aesthetics of Infrastructures
III: Correspondence: “Georgians, that is, readers of Droeba”
IV: Spies and Journalists: Aristocratic and Intelligentsia Publics
V: Writers and Speakers: Pseudonymous Intelligentsia and Anonymous People
VI: Dialogic Genres: Conversations and Feuilletons
VII: Writing and Life: Fact and Fairy Tale
VIII: Fellow Travelers: Localism, Occidentalism, and Orientalism

Conclusion: A Stranger from a Strange Land


List of Illustrations
Figure 1: Georgian Dream Come True, by Vasil Roinashvili (1912). Mixed media, photography, and painting
Figure 2: View at Kazbek from the post station
Figure 3: Stages of Two Literary Crossings of the Dariel Pass
Figure 4: Picturesque Technology and Sublime Nature on the Dariel Pass
Figure 5: Front page of Droeba, July 20, 1879
Figure 6: Page from a manuscript of a textbook for teaching Georgian to Ottoman Georgians
Figure 7: Pages from a handwritten grammar notebook
Map 1: Regions of Georgia
Map 2: Rivers and cities mentioned in the text