Friends, family, colleagues, thank you all for 2019! Wishing all a good start on the New Year 2020 and the new decade with many memorable events and success in your endeavors – and, of course, good health!
When looking back at 2019, this year will probably for me always be associated with my mother Siri leaving us on August 19, after several years of illness. We were all with her to the end, and I believe she also felt that we were there.
The Spring trip to Batumi during Easter was special. We were very happy to see Jean for the first time living in her new apartment, that was finally ready after so many steps and discussions. Celebrating this, of course!
In April Revaz and I went to Barcelona for a couple of days. It was very interesting to see Revaz’ panting being exhibited in a group exhibition at MEAM, the Museum of European Modern Art in Barcelona.
Last year, looking back one year ago, I assumed that 2018 had been a year of unusually many conferences and meetings, celebrations of “круглые даты”. Now I think that has to be said about 2019 as well.
One contributing factor has been the SI project “New horizons of internationalization”, which took the five project groups to visit all the other partner universities. We started in Moldova and visited Balti university in the beginning of April, continued to Mechnikov National University in Odessa in mid May. After the summer vacation we hosted a meeting at Malmö University in September. At the end of October our project meeting was hosted by Batumi Rustaveli State University and, finally, we met at Yerevan State University.
Summer holidays! So great that we were all together during the summer vacation in Georgia, exploring Kutaisi with the huge cave systems, excavations of ancient settlements in Vani and Batumi with the Botanical garden and so many other interesting sites. Leri joined us in Batumi and went together with us back to Sweden.
In the end of September, a very special event took place: the Anaklia Literary Festival, with participation of writers, poets, journalists and researchers both from Georgia and from different republics in the North Caucasus. Anaklia, close to the administrative border line with Abkhazia, was one of the main sites at the Black Sea coast for the Circassian exodus from the Caucasus in the mid 1860s.
The printed result of several years of project work appeared in September: The Mouton Atlas of Languages and Cultures (Ed. by Carling, Gerd, DE GRUYTER MOUTON), based on the database Diachronic Atlas of Comparative Linguistics. The project is based at Lund University (project leader Gerd Carling), but has involved cooperation with Caucasus Studies at Malmö University and a number of colleagues in the Caucasus, both in Georgia and the North Caucasus.
The prominent Georgian linguist Thomas Gamkrelidze celebrated his 90th birthday on October 23 and Tbilisi State University and the Georgian Academy of Sciences organized a conference and presented him with a festschrift on the occasion.
On November 21-22 the research platform Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research (RUCARR) at the Faculty of Culture and Society in Malmö hosted its Fourth Annual Conference. This year’s theme was the role of massmedia and social media in Russia and the Caucasus. Our keynote speakers were Prof. Svetlana S. Bodrunova, Saint Petersburg State University (SPBU) and Prof. Maia Mikashavidze, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, Tbilisi.
The last conference of the year – Language and Modern Technologies – took place in Tbilisi on December 15-17, and I was happy go there together with Dr. Gerd Carling from Lund University (project leader of the database project Diachronic Atlas of Comparative Linguistics). It was organized by Tbilisi Sate University, Sokhumi State University and the Circassian Culture Center. Apart from the interesting conference sessions, Gerd and I got a private tour of the Georgian National Museum and with a small group of invited speakers we visted the President’s palace and met with Georgia’s President Salome Zaroubichvili for a discussion about the language situation in Georgia and current problems.
Yes, one more visit to Georgia in 2019! At a very special event – the Georgian Brand Day – at the the Biltmore hotel in Tbilisi, I was honored to receive the Georgian Brand Award for my contributions to Caucasology and to the advancement of the Georgian language abroad. So, this was a very festive and memorable end of the year 2019.