Flexible Memory Narratives in The Physical Landscape: A Case Study of Tbilisi, Georgia
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 27, Number 2, Spring 2019
- pp. 131-161
- Additional Information
Although the state and its constituent bodies have expended greater effort to make room for Georgia's national minorities in official identity narratives since the Rose Revolution of 2003, subsequent changes to Tbilisi's built environment embody an incoherent conception of "Georgian-ness"—one that, despite evidencing certain civic elements, is still predominantly primordialist in nature. This article identifies the dominant national identity narratives propagated by Georgian state leaders since independence and examines the ways in which leaders have imprinted these narratives upon the physical landscape of Tbilisi. More so than his predecessors, Mikheil Saakashvili rigorously began transforming the country's built environment following the Rose Revolution of 2003. The subsequent changes both reflected and propagated particular narratives of national identity and focused primarily upon Tbilisi. Paying particular attention to the post-Rose Revolution development of Tbilisi, the author identifies three particular flexible memory narratives as having been influential since independence: 1.) foreign aggression and oppression, 2.) uniqueness through antiquity, and 3.) Georgia's "return to the West". These narratives, alongside those of common descent, language, and faith, are selectively applied by top state leaders in Georgia in ways that solidify and legitimate the position of the titular Georgian nation within the territorial state.