Caucasus paradigms revisited

Authored by: Florian Mühlfried

Routledge Handbook of the Caucasus

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138483187
eBook ISBN: 9781351055628
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter scrutinises the assumption that the Caucasus is a world area and the regimes of knowledge through which it is perceived as such, thus situating the Caucasus as a concept and object of study. Typically perceived as part of the Global South and post-Soviet space, the Caucasus is often represented as essentially deficient. This chapter explains this in terms of the emergence of Caucasus studies in the political endeavours of imperialism, and how this field remains heavily influenced by philological approaches and an associated essentialism. For Caucasus studies to develop into a field for critical area studies, it needs to tackle and overcome this heritage. This chapter offers alternative paradigms for understanding the region. The first is that of interaction, based on a view of the Caucasus as a border area, contact area and cultural area. The other builds on a reversal of theories of transition and positions the Caucasus as an avant-garde region.

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