Thursday, May 11, 2017

BOOK: Georgian Portraits. Essays on the Afterlives of a Revolution. By Katrine Gotfredsen, Martin Demant Frederiksen (

( The ethnographic portraits telling the story of the social and political aftermaths of revolution.

Georgian Portraits chronicles everyday life in the Republic of Georgia in the decade that followed the Rose Revolution of 2003. Recent anthropological developments argue for the use of “afterlives” as an analytical notion through which to understand processes of socio-political change. Based on a series of portraits, Martin Demant Frederiksen and Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen employ the theory of social afterlives to examine the role of revolution in the formation of a modern Georgia. The book contributes to a deeper understanding of life in the aftermath of political reform, depicting the hopefulness of the Georgian population, but also the subsequent return to political disillusionment which lead them to a revolution in the first place.


What happens after a revolution, when the bright and shiny finish has worn off its ideals? Capturing the weirdness and the wonder of post-revolutionary Georgia, Frederiksen and Gotfredsen also capture people's very real struggles to get by, their fears of war and their dreams of a "European" future. Beautifully and hauntingly written, this book captures not only Georgia's politics, but its soul. ~ Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, author of Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business and the Remaking of Labor

Revolutions are as much made of dreams as real events, and these dreams have afterlives as ghosts as the revolutionary hope fades into disappointment or despair. Writing the history of a revolutionary period is difficult, especially writing one that deals with the fundamentally emergent nature of a revolutionary period, as this one does, embracing the confusion of tenses in which the present is pregnant with the future and the future becomes a past as a condition of narration. This book tracks the lively history of Rose Revolutionary Georgia in a lovely and vivid manner, an engaging narrative full of lively characters, beginning always from small things and local perspectives that show the Rose Revolutionary period as a series of hopes and dreams, programs and disappointments. Misha Saakashvili appears throughout, sometimes as a real historical person, sometimes also an imagined demiurge, sometimes a fraudulent trickster. The ways a revolution changes a society are here portrayed from many perspectives, and the way the revolutionary dreams sometimes became haunting ghosts shows how a single moment can become a whole period of social life. ~ Paul Manning, author of Love Stories: Private Love and Public Romance in Georgia

This book is crafted as a compendium of tacit knowledge about Georgia, harboring an array of insights that capture the tensions and ambiguities of a country that finds itself back from the future and poised between assembly and disassembly. The image of the portrait is therefore very accurate, reflecting the make-believe realities and re-enactments faced by the authors. Thumbing through its pages, I discovered how anthropological variations can be interwoven through biographies, social affects and political afterlives. This type of scholarship is not only inspiring and informative, but also pleasure to read. Georgia is a country for storytellers and vernacular Sisyphus of life, being Martin Demant Frederiksen and Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen the perfect example of this contagious ardor. The intimate and sharp look achieved by the authors makes this collection an important milestone in the discussion of contemporary social dynamics in Eastern Europe and the understanding of human condition overall. ~ Francisco Martínez, author of Playgrounds and Battlefields: Critical Perspectives of Social Engagement


Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Copenhagen. She has done extensive fieldwork in the Republic of Georgia focusing on subjects such as history, identity, morality, and uncertainty in the context of social and political transformation. Works include her PhD dissertation, “Evasive politics: Paradoxes of history, nation, and everyday communication in the Republic of Georgia” (2013) and the journal articles “Void pasts and marginal presents: On nostalgia and obsolete futures in the Republic of Georgia” (Slavic Review, 2014) and “Enemies of the people: Theorizing dispossession and mirroring conspiracy in the Republic of Georgia” (Focaal, 2016). She is currently lecturer in Caucasus Studies at Malmö University and Programme Manager for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus in the Danish NGO Cross Cultures.

Martin Demant Frederiksen is assistant professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He holds a PhD in anthropology and has conducted a total of 22 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Republic of Georgia since 2006 in the cities Tbilisi, Batumi and Ambrolauri. His work focuses on subcultures (such as youth criminals and declared nihilists), urban development, temporality and socio-political change. He is author of the monograph "Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia" (2013) and co-editor of the anthology "Ethnographies of Grey Zones in Eastern Europe" (2015). Aside from research and teaching, he is co-founder and co-editor of the independent art-zine "a...issue".

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