Georgia’s new generation of historians: seeking democracy’s past

Article published on on August 23rd, 2018

Out and away from the shadow of dogmatic Soviet historiography, a new generation of historians is arising in Georgia. And with a very specific focus on Georgia’s first democratic experience.

by Régis Genté

An informed and critical look at its history, based on in-depth research of the archival documents and facts is important for any state, but especially crucial for a new one. Yet, this approach is very new in Georgia, practiced by a group of young researchers for less than five years.

So far, Soviet and post-Soviet approach to the past, sharply split between the communist and nationalist ideologies cast a long shadow on Georgia’s historical school. Yet, some of the older generation historians propelled their students forward.

“We have to recognize that some of our professors had the cleverness to accompany us in our research, to encourage us to go back to archives and to thus do a genuine work as a historian”, says Beka Kobakhidze, 33, specialist of the relations of the Georgian Democratic Republic and the West, who defended his PhD degree at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in 2015 and who is currently a Visiting Fellow at Russian and East European Studies of the University of Oxford.

Interestingly, most of those young historians – about a dozen – who aim to break with dogmatic past have chosen Georgia’s First Democratic Republic (1918-1921) as the topic of their research. These young people are on a mission to re-establish the truth about their country’s history and they believe it should start with the First Democratic Republic of Georgia.

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