Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2009

Boys on a horse-drawn carriage in Asureti, Georgia 2009. (Foto: Elke Kamm)

Boys on a horse-drawn carriage in Asureti, Georgia, September 2009. (Foto: Elke Kamm)

Once my field assistant and me went to take some interviews and walked down the street. We saw three old women sitting on a bench in front of a house looking curiously at us. So we felt invited to have an interview with them. I asked them how they got married and where they initialy met before marriage. They told me that they are now more than 80 years old and are married for more than 60 years. Their parents arranged the wedding, so the couples did not know each other before. After asking some questions about their opinion to the terms of honour and shame, they answered that women have to be loyal to their husband and to their family. I asked, if men also have to be loyal to their wives, they told me, actually they have to but in reality they do not practise it. One woman started telling us a story about the affairs of her husband.

She told us that once she received a phone call from her neighbour, who told her, her husband is seeing another woman out on the street. The women run out of the house, saw the two and beat the woman with a stick. (When I asked, why she just beat the woman and not her husband, she was laughing.) Also the other women on the bench were telling about the affairs their husbands had. It became like a TV-Show, where the candidates had to beat each other by telling the most bizarre story. We left about five minutes later and talked a lot about this situation on the way home.

On the next day we walked along that street again. One of the three old women was sitting on the bench and excitingly beckoned us. We came closer and she nervously said why we told everyone about the affair of her husband? We assured her we did not tell anyone about the story she told us. She wanted to see my notebook to make sure nobody could read my writing (which was in German) and calmed down a little. But after a while she blamed us again by saying we would decrease her reputation in the village. We told her, that we did not tell a word to anybody about the story she has told us. She was still very nervous when we left.

Now this interview became much more interesting to us. The woman was afraid of the public’s opinion. Whether she told the truth or not, in any case her reputation would suffer from the story she told. Therefore she was very nervous and wanted to make sure we did not talk to anybody about her story.

(More details on the topic of “honour and shame” you may find in my working paper: https://projectgeorgia.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/wp3.pdf)

Read Full Post »

In the last week of my stay in Georgia I could attend the workshop „Urban Spaces: Caucasian Places: Transformations in Capital Cities“. The workshop was organised by Madlen Pilz, Tsypylma Darieva (Humboldt University Berlin) and Ketevan Khutsishvili (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University). Researchers from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, USA or Germany presented their research and discussed if a there is a post-socialist city. The papers (program) provided very interesting insights in ongoing ethnographic works. One of the papers was also touching legal anthropology: Eugenia Zakharova (St. Petersburg) talked „Street Corner Life. Ubani and Urban Neighborhoods in Tbilisi” which are regulated by informal legal norms of the street. (The German anthropologist Jan Koehler studied also this topic several years ago.). Unfortunately some presentations stayed at the level of pure ethnography, leaving theoretical discussions aside.

The workshop was also a very pleasant getting together of researchers working in the Caucasus. I want to thank Madlen, Tsypylma and Keti for organizing this conference and for inviting me.

Read Full Post »

Project Workshop

Elke is presenting her paper to the Georgian anthropologists

Elke is presenting her paper to the Georgian anthropologists

Today took place our first workshop with Georgian anthropologists in Tbilisi. We, i.e. all four team members, presented their first findings (I hope, that we publish parts of the presented paper at this place soon). For us, the German team members, it was very interesting to experience the very animated Georgian form of discussing our topic. The Georgian colleagues criticized and praised our research project, mostly all in one sentence. Numerous mentioned points were very interesting and will be taken into consideration. Most interesting was that we managed to bring together anthropologists from different institutions which, unfortunately, communicate one rarely each other. After the end of the four hour workshop we all went together to a restaurant near to the lake Kustba for large supra.

Read Full Post »

Koshki and Kulla

A part of the village Mulachi in Svaneti, near Mestia

A part of the village Mulachi in Svaneti, near Mestia

Since three months I am in Georgia, but I never saw so many tourists in one place like in Svaneti (except perhaps during my short trip to the Black Sea). The road to Mestia is really long and not so easy. There are no planes flying. But still so many people come here. I have to admit that Svaneti is (and we only saw some very little part of it) a fantastic place. The towers (koshki) remind me of the towers (kulla) I saw in Albania. The towers there are larger and not that many are remaining. The Albanian towers are also more dispersed in the mountains. But the towers in Albania and in Svaneti were both constructed to protect the families from blood feud. From the Svan towers they also they, that they were build to protect oneself from the difficult climatic conditions. The koshki would resist avalanches.

Read Full Post »

Interviews in Svaneti

Lavrenti in an interview in Mulakhi

Lavrenti in an interview in Mulakhi

Of course, we made some tourist excursions but we also, with the help of our Svan colleague Khatuna Iossiliani, talked to people on local traditional law and made interesting interviews. Svaneti is not our target region, but as we study among Svans in Kvemo Karli, small researchers in the highlands are necessary. For next year, Lavrenti and I plan to stay some days more in the region.

We stayed in the village of Mulakhi, around 12 km from Mestia. Our host explained Lavrenti the village structure and the families names living there. We got interesting insights in recent blood feuds or “traditional” investigations of a case, in which some men did steal money from tourists. The police persecuted innocent people and only the local population did finally find the real thieves (… this is at least that what the Svan say).

Read Full Post »

Difficult trip to Svaneti

reparatur

Reparing the v-belt in Svaneti

As some of our team members do research among Svans migrated from the highlands we thought that it would be useful to pay a short visit to Svaneti. From September 11-14 we were with the Svans. The road was difficult because the minibus we hired lost its cooling water. Our driver had to refill it every 30 minutes. Then, around 30 km before the Svan capital Mestia, the v-belt burst and we had to wait some time in the middle of the mountains for help. The family of our Svan driver provided help and after around 15 hours we finally did arrive our destination. Two days later we were trying to get to Ushguli. Again, we had a problem with the minibus. This time one shock absorber broke.

Read Full Post »

Bild fuer Blog

German "Fachwerkhaus" in Asureti, Georgia, August 2009. (Foto: Elke Kamm)

We arrived on the 13th of August at Pawles house, where we rented the second floor. After having coffee with Pawles wife Iamse we took our equipment (Dictaphone, Notebook and Camera) and went to the centre of Asureti – the former German village “Elisabetthal”. As we were walking, we saw three women, who were sitting on their balcony. We greeted them and introduced ourselves as Ethnographers, who are interested in the social life of Georgians, especially of women. When we asked for an interview we were friendly invited to come in. The first questions we asked: name, age, family status and in which period of time they had come to Asureti.

While having the interviews, most of all our interview partners changed the topic and talked about the Germans, who came in the 19th century to the Caucasus. About 500 families left the state Baden-Württemberg to find their luck in the Caucasus. Mainly two reasons let them make this decision: Drought and their religious belief in one group of the Lutheran Church, which was not accepted at that time in Baden-Württemberg. A few families settled in 1819 in Asureti, other families went to nearby villages in Georgia, also to Tbilissi and to Azerbaijan.

The first years were difficult for the Germans. Interview partners told us that they even went begging for food to nearby villages. With the help of the government (Russian Empire) and their neighbor villagers, they built traditional South-German “Fachwerk”-houses (timbered houses) and streets. Soon they grew wine, potatoes, tomatoes, apple trees and other fruits and vegetables. The Germans established a school, a bakery, a public bathhouse, a cinema, an open-air-theatre, a church and they even planned a cable car from Asureti to their wine yard, which was 7 km away from Asureti. But they could not fulfill their plan. 1941 – within 48 hours – they were deported by an order of Stalin, who accused them of having contact to Nazi-Germany. On horse wagons they were brought to Marneuli and from there to Baku, where they were shipped to Kazakhstan, Central Asia. A lot of people died on the way to Kazakhstan. In 1956/57 they were released from Kazakhstan and went back to Asureti to visit their neighbors and friends. Their houses were already inhabited by people from Ratsha (Region in Westgeorgia), who had to leave their villages after a landslip. Mostly all of the Germans from Asureti left Georgia and went to Germany.

This report gives a short excursion on the topic of the Germans in Asureti. Next time there will be more information about my project topic of honor and shame in Georgian society.

Read Full Post »