Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia
Publication Year: 2013
In the midst of societal optimism, how do young men cope with the loss of a vibrant future? Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia provides a vivid exploration of the tension between subjective and societal time and the ways these tensions create experiences of marginality among under- or unemployed young men in the Republic of Georgia.
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Martin Demant Frederiksen shows how the Georgian state has attempted to make the so-called post-Soviet transition a thing of the past as it creates new ideas about the future. Yet some young men in the regional capital of Batumi do not feel that they are part of the progression these changes create. Instead, they feel marginalized both by space and time—passed over and without prospects.
This distinctive case study provides empirical evidence for a deeper understanding of contemporary societal developments and their effects on individual experiences.
Published by: Temple University Press
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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication
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August funfair. Apparently there is nothing for me to do here at all, at least so I’m told. Batumi, the regional center of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, in western Georgia, is new to me, although I have been here twice before on short visits in 2004 and 2005. Today, in mid-2008, only three years later, nothing is as I remember it. In 2004, when the local leader, ...
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Although his hair was turning gray and his lungs were failing him, Emil was only twenty years old when we met. Physically he was aging too quickly, but socially he was unable to become a grown man. The criminal underworlds that dominated his hometown of Batumi during his childhood in the 1990s had been officially declared a part of...
Section I. “In a Quiet Swamp, There Are Devils Wandering”: Ruins and Ghosts in Batumi
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The aim of this first section is to explore empirically what Davit means when he says that there are “devils in a quiet swamp” and why this saying was seen by my informants as an apt description of Batumi and their lives there. Who were the devils? How had they come about? And what did they do? I seek an answer to these questions by looking at the social changes...
2. Walking a Ruined City
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Ruins encode a city with meaning, residing as they often do in a temporal space between abandonment and a potential future (Edensor 2005: 4). Rather than taking just one shape, they are manifold in form. In Batumi, some ruins were obvious, standing out in open spaces or partially hidden behind fences. Others had been absorbed partly by...
3. Devils and Brotherhoods
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In their study of the urban planning that created modern Paris, Michel de Certeau and his colleagues claim that Paris is a city of ghosts. The “already there”—that existed before the new structures of urban planning arrived—remain in the city as uncanny beings, ancient scars in the new from a stubborn past (de Certeau 1998: 133). Whereas some ghosts, they...
Conclusion: A Period Made Past
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During my first days in Batumi, as the war began, Nino, a local acquaintance, referred to the president as “King Fountain the First.” As she said, “All he does is build fountains! Yes, he also built some roads and made sure we have electricity; that’s also good, but what do we need all those fountains for?” The answer to this question seems to lie in...
Section II. Daily into the Blue? Young Lives between Longing and Engagement
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In the American film Groundhog Day (Ramis 1993), Bill Murray portrays a TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. At first he indulges in acts of hedonism and then becomes more and more desperate to end the loop by...
4. The White Georgian
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In this chapter, I tell the story of a guy and a band and their life. A big blue iron gate stood before Gosha’s house. Scratched into the rusty paint were the words “mad family.” The gate was not there just to keep away trespassers but just as much to keep away society. Gosha lived in the house with his two brothers and his four-year-old son, who stayed with ...
5. A Tale of Two Artists
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Armen and Magu shared the same dream with Gosha: they wanted to be able to make a living from their art—rap music and drawing, respectively. Like Gosha, they used their personal experiences and images of the “dark side” in their individual forms of expression; unlike Gosha, their way of relating to the future was not based on a single dream....
Conclusion: “Because of” or “In Order To”?
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When what is wished for arrives, Ernst Bloch noted in The Principle of Hope, it surprises us, which is why we often end up hoping for more (Bloch 1955: 42). This might have been the case for Giorgi when he suddenly encountered an opportunity to work, for months something that he had longed for. He was a bartender and had a steady job in the summer...
Section III. The Future Haunting the Present
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In late March 2010, almost a year after I had finished my fieldwork, Emil wrote me an e-mail containing only three words: “Magu has died.” It did not explain how. Magu had already been buried when I found out....
6. Subjunctive Moods and Imperative Reminders
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In Chapter 4, Gosha at times talked about the future as if it had already happened and at other times he fell deeper and deeper into depression because he felt that he was longing for a future that might never become reality. At stake here was one relatively clear idea of what the future would— or rather had to—be. This made it fragile because the alternatives to the...
7. Subjunctive Materialities
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Uncertainty and speculation often surrounded discussions about events on a broader societal and political level. Although my informants generally held that they were not interested in politics, they would at times recount stories they had heard on the news. Emil sometimes eagerly watched CNN when he visited me to find out when the international financial crisis ...
Conclusion: Horizons in Motion
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My argument in this section is that the future can be a haunting presence in everyday life just as the past can be. Indeed, as Frederic Jameson notes with reference to Jacques Derrida, the future as much as the past is spectral; there are “traces of the future” in the present (Jameson 1995: 103). But how can the future be said to haunt the present,...
Section IV. Apparitions
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The pace in the city was picking up and, with summer returning, a cycle seemed to be closing. But it was not a repetition of the previous year. Much had happened; much was different. The winter season had been long, with dragging days and constant rain, but there had been much more than mere nose blowing and jerking off. In the midst of a seeming inertia, individual ...
8. Social Afterlives and the Creation of Temporal Margins
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In his Specters of Marx (2006), Jacques Derrida coined the term “hauntology,” a play on “ontology” (best understood when pronounced in French). Hauntology, for Derrida, was meant to supplant ontology by replacing the priority of being and presence with a focus on what is neither completely present nor completely absent: the ghostly. As Frederic Jameson...
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Emil and I meet soon after I arrive in Batumi in the spring of 2010 to visit the grave of Magu. “Hello Martin!” he yells as he sees me. “Let’s walk!” And so we do, for hours, as usual. Roma joins us after a while, and Emil suggests that we “drink like the homeless”—sitting at the beach for lack of a place indoors. We go to a supermarket to buy vodka ...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Global Youth