Archive for September, 2014

New article published

“Identity and Traditional Law Local Legal Conceptions in Svan Villages, Georgia”, by Stéphane Voell, Natia Jalabadze, Lavrenti Janiashvili and Elke Kamm. In: Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, Volume 23, No. 2 (2014): 98-118 (doi: 10.3167/ajec.2014.230208).

Abstract: Traditional law continues to be relevant for the Svans (Georgians), who usually live in the highlands of the Caucasus, but who have also migrated to various parts of Georgia. To grasp its practice we draw on approaches in which its use is discussed as a strategy for ‘(re)asserting collective identities’ (Benda-Beckmann) in order to enforce specific goals. But our research also shows another dimension of traditional law: more than in actual conflict resolutions, traditional law is found in narratives, that is in memories of how conflicts were resolved earlier and should be solved today. These stories, however, of how and when traditional law should be applied rarely correspond to lived reality. Drawing on Brubaker and Cooper, we argue that beside a rather instrumental motivated use of traditional law in asserting collective identities, its contemporary practice can only be fully understood if we also acknowledge its non-instrumental practice.

Link: AJEC.


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State and Legal Practice in the Caucasus

Anthropological Perspectives on Law and Politics

Edited by Stéphane Voell, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany and Iwona Kaliszewska, University of Warsaw, Poland


Legal pluralism and the experience of the state in the Caucasus are at the centre of this edited volume. The book describes how social action and governance takes place in this region affected by a multitude of legal orders. The authors ask how conceptions of order are enforced, used, followed and staged in social networks and legal practice. Principally, how is state perceived and performed in both the North and South Caucasus?

From elections in Dagestan and Armenia to uses of traditional law in Ingushetia and Georgia, from repression of journalism in Azerbaijan to the narrations of anti-corruption campaigns in Georgia – the text reflects the multifarious uses and performances of law and order. The collection includes approaches from different scholarly traditions and their respective theoretical background and therefore forms a unique product of multinational encounter.

The volume will be a valuable resource for legal and political anthropologists, ethnohistorians and researchers and academics working in the areas of post-socialism and post-colonialism.

Contents: Preface; Pluralism, tradition and perspectives on the state in the Caucasus: introduction, Stéphane Voell and Iwona Kaliszewska; Triple laws and quasi-states in the Caucasus, Sergey Arutiunov; The dialectics of nation-state construction in the North Caucasus in the 1920-1930s, Yuri Karpov; Traditional law and blood feud: Svan legal practice in Soviet times and in contemporary Southern Georgia, Natia Jalabadze and Lavrenti Janiashvili; Blood feud in Ingushetia: differences in adat and sharia, Makka Albogachieva; Municipal elections in Dagestan: political events in a village community, Ekaterina Kapustina; The Tbilisi ‘street’ as a legal and political phenomenon in Georgia, Evgenia Zakharova; Dimensions of honour in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia: the importance of virginity in the name of honour, Elke Kamm; Moral breakdown among the Georgian Svans: a car accident between traditional and state law, Stéphane Voell; Lack and excess of state: how Dagestani experience state practices in their everyday life, Iwona Kaliszewska; Informality in a neopatrimonial state: Azerbaijan, Rail Safiyev; Elections in Armenia: Western models and local traditions, Levon Abrahamian and Gayane Shagoyan; Capitalizing on aid: post-war development and state-building in Georgia, Elizabeth Cullen Dunn and Austin Cowley; A guest of a client: community-based tourism in Armenia between industry and hospitality, Gayane Shagoyan; Corruption as institution and habitus: Georgia under Eduard Shevardnadze as seen from the perspective of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice, Barbara Christophe; Marketing reforms: the dimension of narratives in Georgia’s fight against corruption, Lili Di Puppo; Index.

About the Editors: Stéphane Voell is Lecturer at the Department for Cultural and Social Anthropology at the Philipps-University Marburg, Germany. He has carried out fieldwork in Georgia and Albania and organized numerous workshops, conferences and student excursions in the Caucasus. He specializes in law, state, ethnicity and conflict.

Iwona Kaliszewska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw, Poland. She has carried out fieldwork in Dagestan and Chechnya which resulted in a book ‘Matrioshka in Hijab’, co-authored by Maciej Falkowski. She specializes in political anthropology and Caucasus area studies.

Reviews: ‘The timely drive to advance our understandings of legal pluralism is finding some of its richest material in the Caucasus past and present. This excellent volume, bringing together a model cohort of scholars from within the Caucasus and beyond, tells us why.’
Bruce Grant, New York University, USA

Taken from Ashgate’s website


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