While ecocritical poetics have effectively challenged epistemologies of nature and culture, scholars such as Heise, Huggen, Nixon, and Garrard have critiqued this emergent field’s geographic and cultural provincialism. Seeking a rapprochement between Caucasus vernacular literatures and a literary-theoretical movement (ecocriticism) still dominated by European master narratives, I look beyond traditional Euro-American sites of inquiry and assay the varieties of ecopoetical sublimes in the indigenous and Russophone literatures of the Caucasus.
…Global Literary Theory: Caucasus Literatures Compared 2018-2023 (on Twitter @balagha2)
* European Research Council, Starting Grant (€1,498,982)
The Obligation to Migrate: Forced Migration and Muslim Memory in the Caucasus (2014-present)
* Research Grant, The Ha…
I am the author of Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale University Press, 2016), which was awarded the University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies and the best book award by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies, and the translator of After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016), and The Prose of the Mountains: Tales of the Caucasus (Central European University Press, 2015). My articles have received awards ranging from the International Society for Intellectual History’s Charles Schmitt Prize to the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages Association’s Florence Howe Award for Feminist Scholarship. From 2018-2023, I am PI for the ERC-funded project, “Global Literary Theory: Caucasus Literatures Compared.” I have taught at Yale-NUS College, the University of Bristol, and am currently Professor, Islamic World and Comparative Literatures, at the University of Birmingham.
In this paper I outline a historical materialist framework for the transhistorical critique of ethnicity, providing a case study in the shaape of Armenian settlements in medieval New Rome. This is necessary since constructivism – the dominant theoretical tradition of the last forty years or so – has failed to dethrone common sense, methodologically nationalist assumptions over the ‘formation’ and ‘survival’ of apparently ‘constructed’ ethnic groups. The purpose is not to reject non-Marxist social theory, but rather to take certain principles as a given and situate them as the mechanisms of social dynamics in a broader materialist framework. I identify the pitfalls of previous approaches, and take the two most astute constructivist theorists – Rogers Brubaker and Andreas Wimmer – as the bases from which to develop a new historical materialist approach. Brubaker’s seminal 2004 Ethnicity Without Groups sounded the call for re-theorisations of ethnicity without recourse to groupist essentialism, and Wimmer’s 2012 Ethnic Boundary Making points towards a systematic understanding of ethnicity – not least by covering under that broad term the more specific phenomena of race and nationhood. Problems remain, particularly with Wimmer’s methodologically individualist and modernist positions, but his systematic model nevertheless forms the general outline of a systemic critique. This critique restores central roles to contingency, the conjuncture, and praxis, developing a framework for social systems that situates different causative factors at different structural levels – with a detour through Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory to describe the micro – arriving at a model for the instantiation across time and place of different but linked ethnic discourses and cultural stuff. Ultimately, therefore, this paper argues that the issue is not so much the construction of ethnicity as its reproduction.
I’m James Baillie, I’m a pre-doctoral Universitatsassistent in digital humanities at the University of Vienna, originally hailing from the east of England. My research interests focus on the Black Sea region and the Caucasus in the Middle Ages, especially the history of Georgia, and my current project is the construction of a Prosopographical database covering Georgia in the twelfth century.
A native of Cleveland, I am a PhD candidate in History at The Ohio State University. I earned my MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, my MLIS at Kent State University, and my BA in History at John Carroll University in Cleveland. My primary interest is the history of Russia and the former USSR, with a specific academic focus on the Caucasus, particularly Armenia and Georgia.
While the cosmopolitan turn in political and literary theory encourages us to move beyond national frameworks, the Caucasus remains mired in ethno-national categories from the Soviet past. This essay examines how these categories are being mobilized in the service of a nominally cosmopolitan agenda in the contemporary memorialization of the writer and critic Mirza Fath ʿAli Akhundzadeh (1812–1878). My discussion focuses on Akhundzadeh’s house museum in contemporary Tbilisi and the uses to which it has been put over the course of the past decade. I consider how bringing together the divergent Soviet, Azeri, and Iranian literary and intellectual trajectories of Akhundzadeh’s legacy can foster a robust cosmopolitanism that moves beyond the normativity of the nation as the basic unit for writing literary history. Akhundzadeh’s legacy shows that when the literary history of the Caucasus is viewed from outside nationalist paradigms, its geography appears less marginal, and its margins more central, to world literature than our current literary geographies envision.
This essay chronicles a journey through the Caucasus toward the end of the second Russo-Chechen war which resulted in an encounter with a little known work of historical fiction by the Ingush author Idris Bazorkin (1910-1991). In introducing Bazorkin to the Anglophone reader, I examine the intertextual linkages between his fiction and indigenous Ingush traditions and thereby reveal the thematic and generic range of Ingush literary modernity. By yoking together literary and ethnographic approaches that are often severed from each other, Bazorkin suggests an alternative conception of the relationship between literature and anthropology. Through its writing method as well as its critical analysis, this essay introduces Bazorkin’s anthropology of literature.
As Head of the IAS Department, I coordinate the work of the department’s seven programs (African, East Asian, West European, Global and International; Middle East; Slavic and Eurasian; and Spain, Portugal, Latin American and Caribbean) within KU Libraries and with other campus units. As Librarian for Slavic and Eurasian studies, I acquire materials from and about Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Caucasus; provide research and instructional services to KU faculty, staff, students, visiting scholars, K-12 community, and the general public; and serve as library liaison to related academic departments and areas studies centers. I also engage in research and professional service and provide support for programs in Global & International Studies and European Studies.
…u: University of Hawai‘i, 2015.
Edited volume. Russia’s Golden Age. Critical Insights Series. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2014.
“Romanticism, the Caucasus, and Russian Orientalism”. In Russia’s Golden Age. Critical Insights Series. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2014.
Currently I am an instructor of Russian and Spanish at James Madison University. I have taught Russian language, literature, culture, and/or cinema at the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, Northern Virginia Community College, and Ferrum College. Since 2013, I have worked as the Conference Manager for the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL). In addition to teaching, I am also currently pursuing a M.Ed in Equity and Cultural Diversity in the JMU College of Education.