The year 2022 — in many respects a dramatic and turbulent year— is approaching its end. I would like to wish all friends and colleagues a healthy, happy and successful new year 2023!
Rettig Prize — The year 2022 will be remembered for many things. For me personally the most important event was probably to be awarded the Rettig prize from Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien (Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities). The motivation for the Prize reads: for her significant contributions to the knowledge about the Caucasus region, her research on the Caucasian languages and the initiation and development of research and educational environments with a focus on the Caucasus. I felt very proud and honored to receive the prize from Crown Princess Victoria during the festive ceremony at the House of Nobility in Sockholm (Photo: Pelle T Nilsson/SPA).
Donation of sculpture – Another very special event in September this year was to make a donation to Adjara Art Museum (Batumi) of my bronze sculpture by Georgian sculptor Karlo Grigolia, He was mainly working in abstract art and is the founder of Georgian avantgarde sculpture, so this is a modernistic portrait. I remember sitting in Karlo Grigolia’s studio for many hours in 1987, while he was in the process of working on the sculpture (upper right photo) The sculpture was first cast in gypsum and only recently in bronze. Photo (below to the left) during the donation event, with Nino Nizharadze, artist and until recently director of Adjara Art Museum.
February 24, 2022 — For most people 2022 will be remembered as the year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Exactly on the day way when the invasion started, February 24, my colleague Märta-Lisa Magnusson and I published an article in the daily paper Sydsvenskan on the many parallels in Russia’s internventions in Crimea, Georgia and Chechnya with the current development in Ukraine: “The world must be more attentive to patterns in how Russia acts in the former Soviet republics“.
RUCARR and the Ukraine – In many respects the war in Ukraine was reflected in the activities of our research platform RUCARR (Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research), where I am one of the Co-Directors and Co-founders. This year RUCARR was transformed into Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus Regional Research. Already in April RUCARR participated in the organization of a benefit event with a roundtable and charity concert for Ukraine (link) and throughout the year we have had many seminars targeting Ukraine, with Ukrainian and international scholars (such as Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Maksym Kovalov, Svitlana Babenko Mariia Tyschenko, Alexandre Kukhianidze).
International travel again – 2022 is the year when we could start travelling in a more regular way. So happy to be able to go to Copenhagen airport again and up, up and away. It was great to return to Tbilisi to see friends and colleagues in real life again, and not only in Zoom on the screen. Midsummer in Batumi was so nice. Two and a half years is a long time, and this time was long enough for a number of new construction works to change parts of the city,. This was quite noticable after being away for some time. Where is city planning to safeguard the cultural and architectural heritage? Another noticable change compared to the situation before the pandemic, was the large number of Russian-speaking persons in the central streets, both of Tbilisi and Batumi.
Meetings at universities — I enjoyed several meeting with colleagues at academic centres that I have been cooperating with. including Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University, the Circassian Culture Center (CCC) in Tbilisi, Sokhumi State University, Ilia Sate Univesity, Caucasus University and, of course, Tbilisi State University. Two very special events at Tbilisi State University that I participated in were a book presentation by Revaz Tchantouria (Malmö University) and an art exhibition of oil paintings, also by Revaz Tchantouria (photo to the right, with long-time friends Diana and Naira).
Conferences — 2022 has been a good year when it comes to confrences. I was invited to speak at Tbilisi International Women’s Conference (June 17), that was organized as an initiative of the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili. It was very intereting to meet with and listen to experiences and life stories of many leading women in diverse areas such as politics, development, economy, culture, media, I taked about “The Caucasus experience” in the panel Depolarazationa and Reconciliation. Here is our panel and my address: https://youtu.be/-lpVcfGB-QI?t=4523.
On October 3-5 , the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Tbilisi State University and Institute of Oriental Studies in Tbilisi organized the joint and multidisciplinary event III International Congress of Kartvelological and Caucasiological Studies. Very much enjoyed interesting papers and meeting all colleagues. I was honored to be invited to give a welcoming address in the plenary session. The topic of my paper was “Identifying the Caucasus as a region in a historical perspective. A corpus-based study on the uses of the concept “Caucasus”.
The next conference I participated in was held at Warsaw University, 7-9 November: First North Caucasus Conference: Ethno-Cultural Problem Problems of the Circassian Nation. This conference was attended by both scholars in Circassian Studies and representatives from Circassian diaspora organisations (in Turkey, the US, Jordan) and also from organisations in the North Caucasus. My presentation was entitled “The representation of the Caucasus and Caucasian peoples in early Swedish newspapers from the 17th and 18th centuries”.
Directly after the Warsaw conference, I went to Georgia to participate in the First Linguistic-Anthropological Congress of Caucasologists (November 14-16). Very happy that our colleague Gerd Carling from Lund University (and soon Frankfurt University) also participated in the conference. There was an impressive number of North Caucasian participants from Ingushetia, Dagestan, Chechnya and North Ossetia who had managed to come to Tbilisi for the conference, despite the difficult situation on the Russo-Georgian border. Due to the large number of participants from the North Caucasus I held my presentation on Caucasological studies in Sweden in Russian.
December visits — No more conferences in December, but at RUCARR we were happy to welcome colleagues from Sokhumi State University for a joint workshop, and later Prof. Alexandre Kukhianidze from the Department of Political Science, Tbilisi State University (to the right, together with me and Co-Director of RUCARR, Prof Bo Petersson).
So, looking back at 2022, it has been a productive and interesting year regarding personal and academic activities, but there has been a constant presence of horrifying, sad and frightening news. Let us hope for a new year with new light and prospects for peace in 2023.