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Scenarios of empire and local identity: Public culture in 19th c. South Caucasus

A British Academy Small Grants funded project led by Professor Hubertus Jahn

This project explores representations of imperial power and ideology in the Russian Empire at its Southern periphery before 1917. It is inspired by the wealth of recent studies that have investigated Russian imperial peculiarities in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and by new works about ceremonial practices, the role of ethnography and symbolic representations in the processes of empire building more generally. But it also responds to an absence in this scholarship: how were these representations of power understood and reinterpreted on the local level in the South Caucasus, both in cultural life and in popular forms of resistance. It thus explores official ceremonies and tsarist visits to the region, the creation and unveiling of monuments, the internal arrangements of museums and the peculiar aesthetics of exhibitions and puts these official images of empire and their underlying “civilizing mission” in the context of local identities and traditions.