Course date

30 June - 11 July, 1997
Application deadline
15 February, 1997
Course Director(s): 

Istvan Perczel

Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Zaza Alexidze

K. Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia

Jean-Louis Bacque-Grammont

Centre Nationale de la Recherce Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France

Nikolay N. Dyakov

Oriental Studies, University of St. Petersburg, Russia

Anthony Eastmont

Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, United Kingdom

Nina Garsonian

Columbia University, New York, USA

Tamila Mgaloblishvili

Kekelidze Institute for Manuscript Studies, Tbilisi, Georgia

Robert W. Thomson

Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, UK

We intend to organize a summer university program on the cultural history and the multiple cultural interactions of the Caucasus from the Middle Ages to the so-called Caucasian Wars (the period of wider Russian expansion in the Caucasus). We would invite scholars to hold courses, and to present papers on the medieval and early modern interactions of Caucasian and extra-Caucasian cultures or on a comparative analysis of parallel cultural phenomena.

In fact, the Caucasus area presents a unique variety of cultural units, ranging from the most ancient to other, more recent, ones. Nowhere else in the world have so many different peoples with different cultural heritages met within such a limited territory. However, these peoples and cultures are, as a rule, studied mainly in their own right, and only very rarely are they studied as forming part of a greater geographic and cultural unity: the entire Caucasus region. Thus, the main purpose of our summer university program is to stimulate such studies among specialists dwelling in the region as well as among those who are living abroad. According to our judgement this objective squares well with those of the SUN and the CEU in general. On the one hand, it means introducing a new vein of international, and interdisciplinary approach into the course of Caucasian scholarship determined hitherto by strict specialization, and often paralyzed by narrow-minded nationalism. On the other hand, it intends to establish contacts not only between the specialists of different different disciplines in Caucasian studies, such as Armenologues, Kartvelologues (experts in Georgian studies), Iranologues, specialists of North Caucasia, but also between Caucasian resident and Western scholars. Another novelty of this program, very much in the spirit of the CEU is that it will concentrate not only on the major nations of the region as it is always done (Armenians, Georgians, Azeris), but also on smaller ethnic groups, and minorities, otherwise nearly unknown such as the Abazynes, Assyrians, Ayrams, Batsbies, different groups of Caucasian Greeks and of Caucasian Jews, Khemshins, Kistins, Shapsugs, Svans, Talishies, Ubykhs, and Udins, not to mention those who are known only from the newspapers such as the Abkhazians, Chechens, Ingushes, Kurds, and Ossetians.

The idea for organizing a program of such a kind first arose in a conversation which we had in the Fall of 1994 with Mr. Irakli Menagarishvili, then Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia. He expressed his view that in the present situation, the best thing the CEU could offer for promoting peace and reconciliation in the Caucasus region would be to provide an opportunity for intellectuals representing all the regions and ethnic groups of the Caucasus simply to meet at a neutral place and discuss some topics which are not directly related to the tragic conflicts of the present. Thus, one of the secondary aims of the summer course would be to bring together people in a friendly atmosphere who, because of both the political situation and the economical hardships, are prevented from meeting and exchanging their ideas. Course Description The courses would last for two weeks. There would be a specific topic or theme assigned for each teaching day with three sessions: one or two key-note lectures in the morning, then a seminar session with short presentations and late afternoon a joint debate. The lectures will be given by the most outstanding experts of the field who will also coordinate the seminar and the debate. Participants of the summer course will be expected to volunteer for short presentations at the seminar and to take an active part in the debates.