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Ulas Basar Gezgin - PhD proposal in anthropology on Georgians

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PhD proposal in anthropology on Georgians PDF Print E-mail

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Written by Dr. Ulas Basar Gezgin, PhD   
Salı, 11 Aralık 2007


“That Was When I realized I was Georgian!”:
Republican and Post-Republican Responses to New Georgian Nationalisms (PhD Proposal in Anthropology)

Dr. Ulas Basar Gezgin, PhD, 2004,


1. Introduction and Background to the Study

 The last twenty years have witnessed the burgeoning of new nationalisms in Turkey after the partial reform of the Turkish Republic in order to meet requirements to enter the European Union. Somewhat related to this is the Post-Soviet reconstruction and the recent coup d’etat in Georgia.

 What is called ‘the national problem’ in the Soviet political literature had no conceptual equivalence for the Turkish Republicans of the early 1920s. More recently however, one of the most interesting examples of the burgeoning politics of identity in Turkey is the post 90’s awareness of Georgian difference from the official Turkish culture as exemplified by the publication of the journal Chveneburi since 1993 after an earlier unsuccessful attempt in 1977. This is the first magazine of the Georgians of Turkey. 

 In the late 1970s, there was a considerable increase in class conflict in Turkey and –both leftist and rightist- political consciousness was on the rise. Yet no group in Turkey organized politically around issues of Georgian nationalism, or conducted forms of social mobilization on that basis. One of the reasons was the military regime in the late 1970s. People may have been exposed to state or other violence if they had asserted their Georgian identity. Cultural activities were confined to secret home gatherings at that time (Olgun, 1994, p.26).  

 This lack of ethnic politics, although contextually understandable, is interesting as the country most populated by Georgians other than Georgia is Turkey (Ciloglu, 1995a, p.4). The main cultural difference between the Georgians of Turkey and those of Georgia is religion. The former are mostly Muslim while the latter are mostly Christian . The ancestors of the Georgians of Turkey had been converted to Islam after the Ottoman ‘conquest’ of the Western Georgian territories in the early 16th cc .

There have been three major waves of Georgian immigration to Turkey, each of which has contributed to the diversity of the Georgian community living in Istanbul and its environs:

The first wave was due to the annexation of Georgia by Russia in 1801. Until that time there was a Catholic Georgian community at Mtsheta . They immigrated to Istanbul via Batumi, because it was almost impossible to practice Catholicism under an intolerant Russian Orthodoxy . The Catholic Georgian Church was established in Elmadag  in 1861, after the issue of official permission from Rome . The church served as a publishing house for Catholic Georgians as well as Georgian Mensheviks that arrived after the establishment of Georgian Soviet State in 1921  (Sharadze, 1994, p.6). It is claimed that there were about 10,000 Catholic Georgian residents in Istanbul until 1955. 

The second wave arrived in 1877-1878 as a result of the Great Russo-Ottoman War known in Ottoman sources as ‘’93 war’ due to the year that the war corresponds to in the Islamic calendar . This wave had carried only Muslim Georgians . Russian domination of Muslim areas would not have allowed them to live in their homeland as true Muslims . It is claimed that there are at least 2 million Georgians at Turkey in 1993 (Mercan, 1993b), though some others like Ciloglu (1995a; 1993) claim this is an exaggerated number. 

 The third wave was somewhat different to the other two: It was due to the October Revolution and there were almost no Muslim Georgians among the immigrants. Thus, the third wave carried Christian and Jewish Georgians. By 1921, there was nearly 2,000 Jewish Georgians in Istanbul. For the political leaders of the demolished Georgian Menshevik State, Istanbul provided an opportunity to publish Georgian books and periodicals in this period. 

Most of the immigrants of the last two waves migrated again to Australia, Canada, Europe and U.S.A. after the 6-7 September Incidents (1955), an organized and provoked vandalism against Christian and Jewish shops at Beyoglu. In 1994, there are few Jewish Georgians families and 200 Catholic Georgians in Istanbul  (Ciloglu, 1994).  

 For more than a half century since the establishment of the nationalistic Turkish Republic in 1923, almost nobody has asserted his/her Georgian identity against the mainstream Turkish identity . In contrast to the Kurdish and Armenian cases, there has been no separatist nationalist movement claiming land from Turkey.

 Thus, it would not be a mistake to propose that there was no Kemalist response to the Georgian identity, because they were virtually non-existent through the eyes of the builders of the Turkish nation state and Turkish ‘intellectual’ world until the last two decades. Nevertheless, there was a general response to ethnic differences in Turkey during the1920s: these apparently different ethnicities are indeed Turkish, but their language has evolved separately so as to become unintelligible (Magnarella, 1979, p.116; 1976).

2. Focus of the Study

 Not surprisingly, Turkish nationalism from 1920s and onwards has produced its own narratives in its endeavour to overcome the legitimacy crisis for nation state building over an obviously multi-ethnic geography. As a reaction, most of the ethnicities of Turkey later on produced their own narratives. Georgians were no exception.

 At the micro level, which is of equal interest from an anthropological perspective, there are narratives of national enlightenment, which constitute a distinct genre. One of the leaders of the preliminary attempts to construct the Georgian identity in 60s and 70s –according to some, he was the chief leader of that attempt-, Ahmet Ozkan Melashvili  was among the founders of the early Chveneburi Magazine. Killed by unidentified fascists in the terror atmosphere of late ‘70s in Turkey, he had learned the Georgian alphabet in the 21st year of his life while fulfilling obligatory military service  from a Georgian who had recently immigrated to Turkey after studying for some time in Georgia (Chveneburi, 1993, p.4).

 Another second narrative common among Georgian young adults in Turkey today is the following: When they were 16-17 years old, their mother said that they had come from Georgia. This is narrated as an impetus for the adolescents to learn their –let us say- ‘grandmother’ language and visit the old motherland.

 Another third narrative recounts the first time a Georgian encounters Chveneburi Magazine. S/he sees the title of the journal also written in Latin characters and thinks that this ‘chveneburi’  may be the word meaning ‘ours’ in his/her language.

 Finally, another narrative produced in the first volume of Chveneburi points out how detached the old peasant generation is and how isolated it is in world view. As related by Mustafa Yakut Himshiashvili, The writer takes a famous Georgian writer to a Georgian village near Golcuk (Northwestern Turkey). They communicate quite well with each other despite the nearly half millennium of Ottoman/Turkish domination. However, a very old man says to the famous Georgian writer “this is our mother tongue. We had learned it from our mothers. What about you? Where did you learn Georgian?” The old man did not know that there was a motherland called ‘Georgia’ from which they had migrated (Himshiashvili, 1993, pp. 33-34).

 Aytekin (2000) considers the surge of Georgian identity in Turkey in 1990s as an instantiation of the general changes in the world policy (pp. 2-3) . According to her, the global conditions of capital are the moving force behind the politics of ethnicity. Accordingly, she provides an obsolete Marxist account that considers the emergence of ethnicity a secondary problem vis-à-vis class struggle, which is an artefact –or let us say an aftermath- of the present developmental stage of the capital. As a response to Aytekin’s interview with the three leading Georgian intellectuals of Turkey, the first interviewee Fahrettin Ciloglu Chilaishvili points out that the most assimilated Caucasian community in Turkey are the Georgians. According to Mr. Chilaishvili, the Georgian community had made no request to the Turkish state for education in Georgian language.       

 Contrary to Mr. Chilaishvili’s pessimistic position, the second leading intellectual, Osman Nuri Mercan thinks that there has been an increase in Georgian identity consciousness. He infers this from the increase in the number of Georgian associations and the participation in Georgian cultural activities and the sales rate of Chveneburi (an alleged reading rate of 4000-6000), the daily newspaper proposal and proposal for an inauguration of a Georgian University in Turkey.

 In accord with these comments by the former intellectuals, Iberya Ozkan Melashvili, the son of Ahmet Ozkan Melashvili and whose name comes from the ancient name of the Eastern Georgia region, rejects Aytekin’s globalism thesis. According to him, there are three reasons behind the Georgian revival : 1) Early endeavours by the Georgian intellectuals of Turkey, 2) The opening of the Hopa border gate, 3) The independence of the Georgian State and accordingly, the establishment of communication channels between Georgia and Georgians of Turkey .

 In brief, the study focuses on three issues. The first issue is the development of the ethnic identity among Georgians of Turkey. The second is the relationship between this and production of a new national identity in the recently independent Georgian state. The third is the relationship between this new national identity and Georgian language as an impetus for the Georgian revival.

 According to Anderson (1993), the orthography of a language is a vital component of the nationalization project. He claims that printing “laid the bases for national consciousness in three distinct ways”: Firstly, the readers “gradually became aware of the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people in their particular language-field, and at the same time that only those hundreds of thousands, or millions, so belonged”. Secondly, “print-capitalism gave a new fixity to language, which in the long run helped to build that image of antiquity so central to the subjective idea of the nation”. Finally,
“print-capitalism created languages-of-power of a kind different from the older administrative vernaculars. Certain dialects inevitably were ‘closer’ to each print-language and dominated their final forms. Their disadvantaged cousins, still assimilable to the emerging print-language, lost caste, above all because they were unsuccessful (or only relatively unsuccessful) in insisting on their own print-form” (Anderson, 1993, pp.44-45).

 Anderson’s comments about the relationship between orthography and national consciousness are particularly relevant for the case of Georgians since they have a special alphabet used only by them. A popular Turkish historian and novelist has even contrasted Georgians with Azeris: he claims Georgians had higher levels of national consciousness because they have their own alphabet and have been able to nationalize their church. 

 The notion of the dominance of the standard dialect over others by the standardization of the language is relevant for Georgian culture of Turkey. The dominant Georgian language of Turkey is Georgian with an Acara accent , since most of the Georgian immigrants were from Southwest Georgia (Akin, 1999, p.3; 1994, p.23) .

 Based on Anderson’s comments, the final focus of this study is how language and alphabet contribute to the emergence of national identity for Georgians in Turkey . The emergence of Chveneburi contributes to the formation of imagined community, especially in the first and second way pronounced by Anderson (1993).

3. Soviet Georgia and Ahead

 The Georgian revival in Turkey is not an isolated matter. Actually, the recent independence of the Georgian state and the ongoing debates about the new national identity in Georgia have been influential on the construction and re-construction of Georgian identity anywhere on the world. Those debates are not specific to the Georgian state. From Estonia to Turkmenistan, all the states of Post-Soviet geography have been constructing their respective nation states and national identities highly influenced by the Soviet era. Besides the common Post-Soviet problems, the independent Georgian state has been experiencing almost unique problems due to certain historical facts about the status of the Soviet Georgia in USSR.

The simple fact that Stalin was a Georgian  and that he used to identify with a Georgian national hero fighting against Russian invasion during his adolescence is particularly influential in the development of Georgian nationalism .

 If assimilation is defined as the percentage of an ethnicity that is fluent in the language of the assimilator culture, Georgia was one of the least affected among the Soviet States along with Armenia. The Soviet project was a project of renationalization. This project had projected to the slogan for Soviet arts: “national in form, socialist in content” (Suny, 1988, p.300).

 As a Georgian, Stalin had been commemorated at Tbilisi the week following his death, which had winded up to police firing at Georgian Stalinist youth (Suny, 1988, pp. 302-303). Those unofficial demonstrations pro Stalin shows what a special status Georgia has for the Soviet Union and vice versa .

In Georgia, the demise of the Soviet Union was shocking in one sense, since Georgia had been the favoured Soviet Republic –prosperous and culturally rewarded. As with most other republics, the demise of the USSR was the end of the golden age for Georgian people and the signal for days of economic hardship accompanied by long hours of power shortage.

 Why have nationalisms exploded in the Post-Soviet geography? The most popular explanation is the ‘ancient hatred’ explanation as exposed by Verdery (1996). According to this classical explanation, the age-old conflicts of the nations were not resolved in the Soviet period. They were just suspended. However, Verdery (1996; 1993) provides an alternative account: contrary to the common view, socialism had provided national consciousness as well as class-consciousness. Socialism indeed had aggravated national conflicts that are about to appear on the surface.


4. Study Objectives

 This study has three objectives. The first is to trace the origins of the emerging Georgian nationalism in Turkey and “the [present] making of the Georgian nation” as Suny (1988) puts it. There is almost no anthropological and sociological study investigating Georgians in Turkey .

 The second objective of this study is to explore whether the notion of ‘nationalism as a kind of ancestor worship’ (Verdery, 1999, p.41) might provide a good account of the renationalization of Georgians of Turkey and Georgia proper. Nationalism is an ideology of extended kinship. In that sense, the introduction of Georgian surnames is interesting from an anthropological point of view. The Georgians in Turkey have Turkish official surnames. Besides those, they have informal Georgian surnames. The latter is not imaginary. The family tells the individual that s/he is of the family with such and such surname. Thus it is worth investigating how Georgians in Turkey start to use their Georgian surnames and in which life areas they use ancestral surnames more frequently. 

 The final objective is theoretical: the term ‘Georgian diaspora’ has not been widely used. However, in the 1st  forum of Kovelta Kartvelta Msoplio (All Georgians World Congress) convened in 10-16 October 1994 at Tbilisi, the Georgian participants were from four different continents (Ciloglu, & Celik, 1994) . This might allow us to explore the relevance of the idea of diaspora to the present situation.

5. Methodology

 Nationalism and national identities are a pressing contemporary practice and would appear to remain important in the near future. In this study, an interview methodology will be used. Extended interviews will be conducted with Georgian intellectuals, elders and nationalist leaders.

 Five kinds of narratives will be collected:
- Immigration narratives,
- “I realized that I am Georgian” narratives ,
- The first encounter with Chveneburi.
- Responses to Georgian identity of the informants by Turkish people.
- How do the individuals decide to use their Georgian surnames rather than Turkish ones?

Tentative Outline

1) Who are the Georgians?: an historical introduction.
2) Georgians and three major monotheistic religions.
3) Turkish-Georgian relations throughout the history.
a. Before 1510 –Ottoman ‘conquest’ of the West Georgia.
b. After 1510.
c. After 1801
d. Between 1801-1917.
e. After the October Revolution.
4) Georgian migration to Anatolia.
a. The first wave: 1801.
b. The second wave: 1877-1878.
c. The third wave: 1917.
5) The ‘national’ movement of Georgians of Turkey and the birth of the first magazine (1977/1993).
6) Istanbul: Nationalization of Public Space.
7) A Georgian diaspora?
8) Kemalist responses to ethnic identities.
9) Post-Kemalist responses to ethnic identities.
10) The formation of the Georgian national identity in the Soviet Georgia.
11) Tbilisi (Tiflis): Nationalization and Renationalization of Public Space
12) Stalinist responses to the Georgian nationalism.
13) Post-Soviet reconstruction of the Georgian national identity.
14) Post-Stalinist responses to the new Georgian nationalism.
15) Conclusion: alternative projects of modernity and the imagined national identity of Georgians and further.

Timeline

The entire research will take 3 or 3,5 years. The thesis supervisor will be at Istanbul for a substantial period. The time will be used as follows:

June-July 2004, Christchurch: Preparing and submitting the thesis proposal.

July 2004-May 2005, Istanbul: first fieldwork period. Collection of documents. Interviews with Georgian intellectuals who constituted the Chveneburi Magazine. Participation to cultural activities involving the new Georgian nationalism.

June 2005-September 2005, Tbilisi (Tiflis): second fieldwork period. Collection of documents. Interviews with the leaders of the new Georgian nationalism. Participation to relevant activities.

October 2005-May 2006, Istanbul and other Georgian-concentrated areas: third fieldwork period. Interviews with elder and less-educated members of the community. Starting to write the first draft of the thesis.

June 2006-December 2006, Tbilisi and Batumi: Further collection of documents at Georgian libraries and research centres to fill in the gaps in the thesis.

January 2007, Christchurch: Back to Christchurch to complete the thesis.

 


Footnotes

1  By the term ‘renationalizating’ two phenomena are pointed out: the first is the way Soviet system created nationalisms and then tried to keep them politically emasculated, especially in the Stalinist era, while the second is the way Muslim Georgians of Turkey resituate themselves as nearer to Georgians in terms of nationality rather than Turks in terms of faith within the last two decades. 
2 The first translation from Georgian to Turkish antedates 1977. It was in 1932 by Ahmet Banoglu who was a student of the famous Turkish historian Mehmed Fuad Koprulu (Chlaidze, 1995, p.3; Ciloglu, 1993, pp.85-86). After that, there is only one translation (from the Shakespeare of Georgian Language, Shota Rustaveli’s “Vepkhistkaosani” [The Knight in the Panther Skin] translated by Halis Koyuturk in 1948). 
3 Yet the heritage of Christian culture for Muslim Georgians of Turkey has been kept alive: In Georgian mosque architecture, cross figures are observed (Ciloglu, 1993, p. 81).
4 Western Georgian territories had become the ‘Cildir State’ in Ottoman administrative system by 1578 (Ciloglu, 1995, p.4; 1993, p.77; Shengelia, 1999, p.21; 1998, p.15).
5 Mtsheta is the ancient capital of Georgia.
6 Indeed, there were Christian Georgians residing at Istanbul before the Ottoman conquest (D’allesio, 1921/2003, p. 29). Shushana Putkaradze claims that there have been Georgian residents of Istanbul since the 4th century (Yakut, 1996, p.13).
7 There was a larger Armenian population in Elmadag at that time and some of the Christian Georgians were immersed in that more established population. D’allesio (1921/2003) reports that there were some Georgian families that called themselves Armenian, though they did not deny their Georgian origins. They had changed their family names accordingly (for example: from Kartvelishvili to Gurcyan).
8 The first president of the Menshevik Georgian State Noe Jordania (1918-1921) had immigrated to Paris via Istanbul and published some books with the Georgian Catholic Church Print house such as “Chven da Isini” [We and They] (1923). He is survived in his son Recep Jordania, who is a professor of marine history in the U.S. and who has been voluntarily organizing Summer Schools at Tbilisi to teach English to Georgian children for the last decade (Ciloglu, 1995c, p. 4).
9 Some small Muslim Georgian groups had also migrated to the Ottoman Empire before the 1877-1878 wave (Kenchkhishvili, 1999, p.11; Putkaradze, 1997, p.14).
 0 The provinces to which Muslim Georgians immigrated were:
Giresun, Ordu, Samsun, Sinop, Tokat, Amasya, Bolu, Sakarya, Kocaeli and rural areas of Bursa and Balikesir (Ciloglu, 1995, p.4; 1993, p.80). In 1965, the provinces where Georgians live and the percentages are as the following:
Artvin (22.4%), Ordu (14%), Sakarya (13.2%), Bursa (8.5%), Kocaeli (8%), Samsun (6.8%), Giresun (5.9%), Bolu (4.5%), Amasya (4%), Balikesir (3.7%), Sinop (3.3%), Istanbul (2.4%), Tokat (1.2%) (Andrews. 1992, p. 246; Chlaidze, 1995, p.4; Ciloglu, 1993, p.96).
Most of Georgians of Turkey are of the second wave (D’allesio, 1921/2003, p.19).
 1 Georgian historian Nodar Shengelia (1998) proposes that the Ottoman tax system was an accelerator for Muslim conversions. In the Ottoman tax system, Non-Muslims was paid a huge amount of annual tribute while Muslim Ottoman citizens were exempted (Shengelia, 1998, p.17).
 A special treaty had been signed between Russian Empire and Ottoman Empire to enhance the immigration. Based on Georgian sources, Putkaradze (1997) claims that for Russia it was a strategical action to enforce Muslim Georgians to immigrate. By this way, the Russian Empire would establish a stronghold at Acara region, which was the gate to Anatolia. Putkaradze (1997) accordingly warns that a common mistake is to consider the second wave as a movement due to religious reasons. She claims that the major reason was the barbaric administration of Russian army. According to her, if the main reason were to be religious, all Muslim Georgians should have left Georgia, which is not the case.   
 2 By the turn of the 20th century, the Catholic Georgian Church of Istanbul acted as a national centre for Georgians of all religions. Priests used to teach the Georgian alphabet to Muslim Georgians (Putkaradze, 2002, p.18). A Georgian Club was established based on the activities of the church in 1911. Members included some famous military officers of the Ottoman Empire (Surguladze, 1999, pp.13-14).
 3 Convergent with this figure, Mercan (1993a) says that there are 30-40 Catholic Georgian families –most of them residing at Istanbul (p.15).
 4 According to Magnarella (1976), the main reason behind the success of the assimilation project aimed at Georgians of Turkey (and others) was the fact that most Georgians were Muslim, facilitating mixed marriages.
 5 Here is the announcement for his anniversary printed in Chveneburi, in 1994, 10, p.25:
Ahmet Ozkan (Melashvili)
(10 June 1922-5 July 1980)
We commemorate the dear person Ahmet Ozkan Melashvili who contributed to the Chveneburi Magazine which was published in Stockholm in 1977-1979 (5 issues) and who published the 6-7. issue at Istanbul, who translated Shota Rustaveli’s romantic legend Vephistkaosani into Turkish for the first time, who published his book entitled ‘Georgia’ in 1968, and who translated Alexander Kazbegi’s work ‘Elguca’ into Turkish (‘Elguca ile Mazgo’, 1973).
 His name survives in a street name at Batumi bestowed in 1996 (Chhaidze, 1996, p.22). In the present study, Ahmet Ozkan Melashvili’s personal narrative will be elaborated extensively since he can be considered one of the early Georgian intellectuals in Turkey.
 6 Military service is obligatory in Turkey.
 7 ‘Chveneburi’ means ‘ours’ or ‘of us’ in Georgian language. However, this use is specific to Muslim Georgians of Turkey. Normally, a Georgian from Georgia does not call his/her in-group as a ‘chveneburi’.
 8 Another interesting case is the revival of Islamist Georgians in Georgia. Georgian translations of Islamic classics proliferated in the late 1990s (Kiladze, 1999, p.9). Chveneburi Magazine has been equidistant to all religions and this is unacceptable for certain Muslim Georgians of Turkey. Nevertheless, Chveneburi also publishes their announcements. In the first issue of 2004, Kaya (2004) invites devout Muslim Georgians of Turkey to Yanyali Mustafa Ismet Efendi Dergahi Kulliyesi, a religious complex situated at the most devout district of Istanbul (Fatih-Carsamba).
 9 Let us keep in mind that the date of this interview was 2000. Nowadays, after the first broadcasting of Kurdish programs at Turkish state TV, the Georgian community had made a formal request for broadcasting in Georgian. As a digression, Mr. Himshiashvili is the first tourist guide to get a professional guide licence for Georgian language in 1999. This is also another reflection of the rise of Georgian identity as well as a new era of state responsiveness to Georgian identity construction.
20 Ciloglu (1993) adds that another reason is the increasing number of Georgians of Turkey going to Georgia for higher education, completing programs, coming back and translating Georgian literature.
2  In Soviet Georgia of the 1950s, Georgians often hid the fact that they had trans-border relatives, since they were treated as relatives of contra-Soviet émigrés (Shevardnadze, 1994, p.6). This is another reason for disconnection.
22 “Impressions of Georgia”, speech delivered by Demirtas Ceyhun, 15.05.2004, Istanbul.
23 Acaristan lies on the South-Western Georgian territory. It is an autonomous republic with 400,000 people. Batumi is its capital. The republic was established in 1921. Most of the Acara people are Muslim. That is why there is a separate state. It is often claimed that there are no cultural differences other than religion (Celebi, 2001, p.2; Uludag, 2002). Despite its present Muslim character, it was the first province of Georgia to accept Christianity (Ciloglu, 1995b). ‘The Illuminator’ who converted Georgia to Christianity was St. Nino who had come from Capadocia in the 4th century (Chhaidze, 1996, p.21). She is one of two Georgian national matriarchal figures along with Queen Tamara (see for instance, Artvinli, 2001 for Tamara) in whose reign Georgia reached its largest borders. 
Nowadays, Acaristan is closely surveilled due to the separatist Acara movement and irredentist Georgian claims as seen in the recent coup d’etat in Georgia. The new government changed the Soviet Georgian flag. The new flag is the ancient flag used since 9th century. There is a cross on it. This and other events have alienated Muslim Georgians.  
The Ottoman ‘conquest’ of Acaristan is far before the ‘conquest’ of West Georgia (1510) (Berdzenishvili, Canashia & Cavahishvili, 2000). It was Yavuz Sultan Selim who had ‘conquer’ed Acaristan in 1479, while he was the governor of Trabzon (Ciloglu, 1993, p.77).
Today there are heated debates about the origins of Acara people. Turkish nationalists claim that they are a Turkic population. The Georgian party does not propose that other major ethnicities of Georgia, Osets and Abhazs are Georgian. However, it is claimed that Acara, Svan and Megrel people (other ethnicities of Georgia) are of Georgian origin (Halvashi, 1996, p.3).   
The heated debates have extended to the identity of Muslim Georgians of Turkey. Turkish nationalists and some Islamic immigrants from Georgia claim that Muslim immigrants of Georgia are not Georgian but Acara. This is clearly a counter-identity manoeuvre: Islamist immigrants of Georgia construct their identity on the basis of Islam more than anything (Celebi, 2001, p.2). The same holds for some Muslim Georgians living at Georgia. From a sociological point of view, this attempt at detachment is comprehensible: In my study at Thailand, I have observed that Muslims of Thailand when asked whether they are Thai respond: “Fortunately not! I am Muslim!”. 
Apart from Acara people, it is known that there are small communities in Georgia who are of Georgian origin but both Muslim and Turkish speakers such as Mesheti Georgians (Ciloglu, 1996, p.10). Another moot issue is the origin of Laz people. Georgian party claims that Laz people are of Georgian origin as Megrel and Svan people. The evidence that is proposed is linguistic: the languages are very similar in syntax as well as lexicography (Akin, 1998). With this conceptualization in mind, Chveneburi Magazine publishes a Laz-Megrel-Georgian-Turkish dictionary part by part at every issue to show how similar the words are. This activity continues. 
24 Actually, there are accent differences between very near Georgian villages (Artvinli, 2000, p.39). Akin (1994) contrasts Machahel and Hopa vis-à-vis Shavshat and Yusufeli in that sense. That means, Chveneburi Magazine also serves as a standardizer of Georgian dialects of Turkey.
A second function by Chveneburi is to create the literature of Georgians of Turkey. As Akin (1994) puts it, “the lack of literature is one of the worst strokes for a language” (p. 23). The magazine had announced 1995 as the year for poetry and short story in Georgian to this end. It had offered a literary award for the best works originally written in Georgian (Chveneburi, 1994, 11-12, p.2).
The Catholic Georgian Church Publishing House can also be considered from the notion of ‘an imagined community construction’.  
25 D’allesio (1921/2003) claims that Georgian language is preserved in Georgians of Turkey due to gender roles. Since females cannot go outdoors without male accompaniment and going outdoors for them is quite rare in the rural setting, they are not exposed to Turkish language much (D’allesio, 1921/2003, p. 22).
26 Another interesting point is that General John Malchase David Shalikashvili (birth: 1936) who had commanded the U.S. army for 35 years in different positions is also Georgian as his surname implies (Halvashi, 1996, p.4).
27 The fact that Stalin was Georgian has been used by ideologues of the other nationalities of Caucasia to support the idea that Stalin was cruel to Caucasian populations save Georgians because he is a Georgian nationalist. Obviously, this is a political move and not true (Akin, 1998, p. 4). Actually, Georgians were also victims of Stalinist regime. The estimates are 30,000 Georgians killed in that era including famous artists, for example Tsitsian Tabidze (1893-1937) (Muchnic, 1971).  
28 In the Post-Soviet era, Stalin has regained his status as a national hero in Georgia, especially in his birthplace Gori. Some Georgians long for Stalin, the most successful Georgian (Rybak, 1999). 
29 The only book –though it is not more than 60 pages- about Georgians of Turkey written in the Ottoman Period is Ismetzade Doktor Mehmet Arif (1893/2002). It is an amateurish ethnographic diary about Georgian villages at Carsamba, Samsun by a visiting Ottoman physician within the first 15 years of the second wave. 
30 As Zubienti (2002) puts it, the first question that Georgians of Turkey encounter at Turkey-Georgia border nowadays is “Ra gvari har?” [What is your ancestral name?] An important distinction is necessary here: in Georgian culture, ‘gvari’ means ancestral names. However, the notion of family names in Turkey is a late invention. Up until 1934, Turkish people had no surnames. In contrast, for Georgians, ‘gvari’ dates back to centuries. Thus Georgian term ‘gvari’ and Turkish term ‘soyad’ does not match very well.
3  The participants were from the following countries:
France, United States, Italy, Spain, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Germany, Argentine, Hungary, Belgium, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, Poland, Greece.
Actually, the list is not exhaustive. Eduard Shevardnadze says in his opening speech that he has counted 34 flags in the congress (Shevardnadze, 1994, p. 5). 
45 Georgians had participated to the Congress from Turkey, the most populous group. Not surprisingly, Chveneburi group was among the participants from Turkey (Ciloglu, & Celik, 1994).
 It is known that there are Georgian communities in other countries not enlisted here (for Georgians of Iran, see Kutaladze, 1998; Savcin, 2002).
32 In one case, the person (Arzu Elif Akdemir) who knows that she is of Georgian origin, but has no contact with Georgian culture sees a Georgian movie and fascinated with the movie, decides to study at Tbilisi (Komahidze, 1995). Such narratives are not observed in rural settings, since Georgian peasants have been born to a Georgian-speaking community in contrast to urban Georgians who have been born to a Turkish-speaking community with no psychological relation to Georgian identity construction except reports by their parents to the effect that s/he is of Georgian origin.


 
Selected Bibliography

Akin, Aydin, 1999, “Gurcuce ya da Yok Olmanin Dayanilmaz Hafifligi” [Georgian Language or the Unbearable Lightness of Extinction]. Chveneburi, 31, 2-7.

__________, 1998, “Megreller ve Lazlar Ozdes mi, Benzer mi?” [Are Megrel People and Laz People Identical or Similar?]. Chveneburi, 29, 2-3.

 __________, 1994, “Turkiye’de Gurcuce’nin Yayilisi ve Durumu” [The Spread and Situation of Georgian Language in Turkey]. Cheveneburi, 10, 23-24.

 Anderson, Benedict, 1993, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso, London, New York.

 Andrews, Peter Alford, 1992, Turkiye’de Etnik Gruplar. [Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey]. Tumzamanlar Yayincilik, Istanbul.

Artvinli, Taner, 2001, “Efsanelere Konu Olmus Bir Gurcu Kizi: Tamara” [A Legendary Georgian Girl: Tamara]. Chveneburi, 41, 29.

 ____________, 2000, “Yusufeli’nin Gurcu Koyleri” [Georgian Villages of Yusufeli]. Chveneburi, 38, 39-40.

 Aytekin, Nesrin, 2000, “1990’larda Turkiye’de Gurcu Kimligi’nin Yeniden Insasi Sureci ve Gurcu ‘Entellektueller’”. [The Process of the Reconstruction of Georgian Identity at Turkey in 1990s and the Georgian ‘Intellectuals’]. Chveneburi, 38, 2-7.

 Berdzenishvili, Nikoloz, Canashia, Simon, & Cavahishvili, Ivane, 2000, Gurcustan Tarihi. [The History of Georgia]. Sorun Yayinlari, Istanbul. 

 Celebi, Fevzi, 2001, “Mesele Ne?” [What is the Problem?]. Chveneburi, 42, 2-10.

 Chhaidze, Aleksandre, 1996, “Turkiye’den Mektup Var” [A Letter from Turkey], Chveneburi, 19-21, 21-22.

 Chlaidze, Lia, 1995, “Gurculer’in Tarihi” [The History of Georgians]. Chveneburi, 14, 3-4.   

Ciloglu, Fahrettin, 1996, “Gurcustan’da Turkolojinin Kurucularindan Sergi Cikia” [Sergi Cikia Who Is One of the Founders of Turkology in Georgia]. Chveneburi, 19-21, 9-11.
 
______________, 1995a, “Dunyada Ne Kadar Gurcu Var” [How Many Georgians Are There on the World]. Chveneburi, 13, 3-5.

 ______________, 1995b, “Tarihi ve Cografi Bolgeleriyle Gurcustan: Acara”. [Georgia with its Historical and Geographical Provinces: Acara]. Chveneburi, 13, 16-18.

 ______________, 1995c, “Recep Jordania ile Soylesi” [An Interview with Recep Jordania]. Chveneburi, 16, 4-5.

______________, 1994, “Gurculer”. [Georgians]. Chveneburi, 8-9, 28. Reprinted from Istanbul Ansiklopedisi, [Istanbul Encyclopedia], 26, 23 April 1994.  
______________, 1993, Dilden Dine, Edebiyattan Sanata Gurculer’in Tarihi. [The History of Georgians from Language to Religion, From Literature to Art]. Ant Yayinlari, Istanbul.

 Ciloglu, Fahrettin, & Celik, Hasan, 1994, “Tum Gurculer Dunya Kongresi I. Forumu Yapildi” [1st Forum of All Georgians World Congress Has Been Gathered]. Chveneburi, 11-12, 5-8. 

 D’allesio, Eugenio Dallegio, 1921/2003. Istanbul Gurculeri. [Georgians of Istanbul]. Sinatle, Istanbul.

 Halvashi, Pridon, 1996, “Bana mi Ogretiyorlar Acaralilarin Kim Oldugunu?!” [Are They Teaching Me Who Acara People Are?!]. Chveneburi, 19-21, 3-5.

 Himshiashvili, Mustafa Yakut, 1993, “Gurcuce’yi Ner’den Biliyorsun?” [From Where Do You Know Georgian?]. Chveneburi, 1(8), 33-34.

 Ismetzade Doktor Mehmet Arif, 1893/2002, Gurcu Koyleri. [Georgian Villages]. Sinatle, Istanbul.

 Kaya, Muhammed Yunus, 2004, “Gurcustan’daki Muslumanlar’la Ilgilenilmesi Kimi Rahatsiz Ediyor?” [Whom does a Concern for Muslims of Georgia Disturb?]. Chveneburi, 51, 6.

 Kenchkhishvili, Aslan Lacinbala, 1999, “Aliabad’in (Eliseni) Kisa Tarihcesi” [A Short History of Aliabad (Eliseni)]. Chveneburi, 34, 11-12.

 Kiladze, Ramazan Aydin, 1999, “Hani, Orada Bir de “Muslumanlar Var” Dersek?” [What if We Say “There are Muslims” too?]. Chveneburi, 31, 8-9.

 Komahidze, Davit, 1995, “Koyun Maskesi” [The Mask of the Village]. Chveneburi, 16, 17.

 Kutaladze, Marine, 1998, “Gurcustan’in Iranli Gurculer’le Iliskileri” [The Relationship of Georgia with Georgians of Iran]. Chveneburi, 29, 18-23.

 Magnarella, Paul J., 1979, The Peasant Venture: Tradition, Migration, and Change among Georgian Peasants in Turkey. G. K. Hall & Co., Boston, Mass.

 _______________, 1976, “The Assimilation of Georgians in Turkey: A Case Study”.The Muslim World, 66(1), 35-43.
 
Mercan, Osman Nuri, 1993a, “Simon Zazadze: “Turkiye’de Ilk Modern Tras Bicagi Fabrikasini Biz Kurduk” [It was Us who Established the First Modern Razor Factory in Turkey]. Chveneburi, 6, 14-15.

 _________________, 1993b, ““Cveneburi” Nasil Bir Dergi Olmali?” [What Kind of A Magazine Should Cveneburi Be?], Chveneburi, 4-5, 41.   

 Muchnic, Helen, 1971, Russian Writers: Notes and Essays. Random House, New York.

 Olgun, B., 1994, “Piano Piano Patara Gogo” . Chveneburi, 8-9, 26-27.

Putkaradze, Shushana, 2002, “Istanbul’da Gurcu Kulturel Varligi” [The Georgian Cultural Presence in Istanbul], Chveneburi, 44, 16-19.

 _________________, 1997, “Muhacir Gurculer ya da Chveneburiler” [Immigrant Georgians or Chveneburis]. Mamuli, 2, 14-18.

 Rybak, Andrzej, 1999, “Stalin Boyle Bir Seye Asla Goz Yummazdi” [Stalin Would not Have Permitted Such an Event]. Chveneburi, 31, 27-28.

 Savcin, Ender, 2002, “Iranli Gurculer” [Iranian Georgians]. Chveneburi, 45, 32.

 Sharadze, Guram, 1994, “Istanbul Gurcu Kilisesi” [Istanbul Georgian Church], Chveneburi, 7, 5-7.

Shengelia, Nodar, 1999, “Gurcustan Hakkindaki Osmanli Fermanlari” [Ottoman Fermans about Georgia]. Chveneburi, 31, 20-22.

 ______________, 1998, “Selcuklu ve Osmanli Doneminde Gurcustan” [Georgia in Selcuklu and Ottoman Period]. Chveneburi, 29, 12-17.

 Shevardnadze, Eduard, 1994, “Demokratik Bir Gurcustan Icin Elele” [Solidarity for a Democratik Georgia]. Chveneburi, 11-12, 5-8.

Suny, Ronald Grigor, 1988, The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

 Surguladze, Abel, 1999, “Turkiye’de Gurcu Okullari Acilmasi Tarihcesi ve M. Abashidze” [The History of the Opening of Georgian Schools in Turkey and M. Abashidze]. Chveneburi, 34, 13-15.

 Verdery, Katherine, 1999, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies. Columbia University Press, New York.

 _______________, 1996, What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

 _______________, 1993, “Ethnic Relations, Economies of Shortage, and the Transition in Eastern Europe”. 172-186. In C. M. Hann (ed.), Socialism: Ideals, ideologies, and local practice. London and New York: Routledge. 

 Uludag, Mehmet Bulent, 2002, “Acara Ozerk Cumhuriyeti’nde Kulturel ve Dinsel Etkilesimlere Sosyolojik Bakis” [A Sociological View of the Cultural and Religious Interactions in Acara Autonomous Republic]. Chveneburi, 45, 2-6.

 Yakut, Mustafa, 1996, “Putkaradze: “Istanbul Gurculeri’nin Tarihini Yaziyorum”” [Putkaradze: I Have Been Writing the History of Georgians of Istanbul]. Chveneburi, 1996, 12-13.
 
 Zubienti, Ugur, 2002, “Ra Gvari Har?” Chveneburi, 46, 19.

 

 

 

 

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