Wednesday 14:40 - 17:30
FASS 1001 A
and its Hinterland:
Clans, Ethnicities and Nations in Imperial Borderlands
The Caucasus and its hinterland, which separate as well as connect the Pontic, the Caspian, and the Persian Gulf basins, have been a strategically important and therefore contested space since antiquity. In modern times, the region was at first fought over by the rival Muslim empires of the Ottomans and the Safavids. The entry of imperial Russia into the arena in the last decades of the eighteenth century ushered in the era of Christian predominance. The next century saw the penetration of the whole Muslim Middle East by western economic interests, accompanied by new conflicts and alignments both on intraregional and international levels. Whereas the evolution of the so-called Eastern Question that implied the settlement of the Ottoman succession parallel to Russian expansion into Transcaucasia encouraged the Christian populations of the region (the Georgians, the Armenians) to aspire to self-rule and even independence, the Muslims felt humiliated and feared a degradation of their traditional ways of life. Their reaction, beginning with the mountaineers' resistance to Russian colonization of the north Caucasus in the last decades of the eighteenth century and reaching its apex under the leadership of Imam Shamil (1834-1859), exacerbated by forced migrations of the Circassians and other Caucasian groups into Anatolia, entailed in the long run ethnic and religious violence in various forms, directed against both the neighbouring groups and the imperial centres. This development culminated in mass deportations and genocidal events during the two world wars of the twentieth century, ethnic conflict, nationalist secessionism and imperialist rivalries breaking out with new vigour in the post-Soviet era. The course will approach this complex history from the vantage point of the concept of "zones of violence", studying and discussing thereby the catastrophic experiences of the period within a multicausal framework.
1. Attendance and informed participation (20 percent of the course grade).
2. One short (15 minutes) presentation on the basis of an assigned text (article or book chapter) during the semester (20 percent).
3. A research paper on one of the weekly topics of the course syllabus and its presentation and discussion in the class (20 to 30 minutes). The final paper (about 20 pages, double-spaced, 12-point script) is due on the last day of the class meeting and will count for 30 percent of the course grade.
4. An exam at the end of the semester which will consist of three questions to be answered in essay form about the content, the historical framework and the contemporary relevance of a one-page text/primary source (30 percent of the course grade).
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Atkin, Muriel: "Russian Expansion in the Caucasus to 1813", in Rywkin, Michael (ed.): Russian Colonial Expansion to 1917, London-New York 1988, 139-187.
Hewitt, George: "Abkhazia, Georgia & the Circassians (N. W. Caucasus)", http://www. circassian world.com/Hewitt_G.html
Krag, Helen and Lars Funch: "North Caucasus. The Region, the Republics and the Peoples" http://www.circassianworld.com/north.html
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Khodarkovsky, Michael: The Indigenous Elites and the Construction of Ethnic Identities in the North Caucasus. Conference "Research and Identity: Non-Russian Peoples in the Russian Empire, 1800-1855", Kymenlaakso Summer University, 14-17 June 2006 http://www.circassianworld. com/Khodarkovsky_Kymenlaakso.pdf
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