Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a multi-ethnic village in Georgia, this paper shows how everyday peace is continuously reaffirmed in the tradition of inviting Muslim godparents to baptize Christian children. The Muslim godparents perform the roles of the chosen Christians while at the same time remaining Muslim. Hybrid local lay-religious practices around the ritual of christening are analyzed within a larger cultural semiotics that allows reciprocity of perspectives and, specifically in this context, enables the recruitment of non-Christians into the role of godparent. Religion serves as a ground for asserting peace.
The paper explores the evolution of Georgian-Jewish identity in different political, ideological, and cultural contexts from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first centuries. It is focused on the beginning of the twentieth century when religious and national dimensions of Georgian-Jewish identity were developed as competing identity models. This paper addresses the impact of these identity models on contemporary Georgian-Jewish identity.
This article is an attempt to describe, analyze, and evaluate the major players who contributed to the rise of transnational Shi’i activism in post-Soviet Azerbaijan. The article is based on a chronology of the most important events, and internet resources, personal contacts, observations, and interviews have been the primary source of this research.
In the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread through the four corners of the world, Christian Orthodox churches were caught in the age-old altercation with science. Tensions condensed around a small material object—the communion spoon—and its potential to transmit the virus. The article examines the ensuing Eucharist-related debates between ‘liberal secularists’ and followers of the Orthodox Church of Georgia: namely, the former’s selective juxtaposition of abstract ‘faith’ against religious practice due to the latter’s alleged incongruity with modernity. The goal of this article is to illuminate the underlying discourse behind these accusations, which in turn draws on the notion of ‘modern religiosity’ informed by post-Reformation ideals.
In 2014, local community members nailed a pig’s head to the door of a Muslim boarding house in Kobuleti, a small town in Adjara, to argue that ‘this is a Christian place.’ They expressed fears about the building owner, who was thought to be of Turkish origin. Enlargement of the boarding house was perceived as a possible Islamization of the town and an increase of transborder flows in the region. In this article, I examine the agency of the boarding houses in Adjara through human and non-human actors. At the same time, I look at the legal responses of the state and official structures for controlling informalities embedded in the boarding houses’ networks.
Based on field research carried out over the last two decades, this article analyzes the labile nature of the relationship between religion and politics in Georgia. It aims to understand not only the rational and deliberate processes in which elites engage for political ends but also to grasp the diversity of actors and patterns of religion mobilization. It argues that three main types of articulations have developed since the 1990s: the mobilization of Orthodoxy (1) in the service of nation-building; (2) in the construction of an anti-elite popular identity; and (3) as a moral crusade. Each type of articulation involves specific social actors, organizational forms, and relations with political institutions.
The subject under scrutiny is Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues in Batumi (the Black Sea Region of Georgia) that reveal both universal and culturally specific forms. The paper is based on ethnographic data gathered during fieldwork in Batumi, in 2019, and on the theoretical postulates of anthropology of infrastructure. The article argues that the Batumi synagogues could be viewed and understood as ‘infrastructure’ in their own right, as they serve as objects through which other objects, people, and ideas operate and function as a system. The paper attempts to demonstrate how the sacred edifices change their trajectory according to modern conditions and how the sacred place is inserted and coexists inside a network of touristic infrastructure.