The South Caucasus Regional Conference Remembering Public Participation in the South Caucasus


On October 26-27, at Ilia State University in Hall G106 the South Caucasus regional conference on “ Remembering Public Participation in the South Caucasus” will be held. The Heinrich Boell Foundation Tbilisi Office – South Caucasus Region, together with Ilia State University and the Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB), presents its annual South Caucasus Regional Conference on Memory Politics.

The following key questions will be discussed at the conference:

  • What were different educational, cultural, socio-economic, and, more broadly, political grassroots initiatives and movements in the late 19th and 20th centuries?
  • How are these movements reflected in politics and memory narratives?
  • To what extent have they been affected by the European initiatives of the same period?
  • Which forms of public participation existed and how did they influence different resistance practices of later periods?

Community mobilizers, researchers, and civil society organizations often emphasize the importance of local, even one-time/short-term instances of community mobilization and public participation. There are multiple examples of grassroots activism from the past, such as the opening of youth educational centers or discussion spaces for women. In the first half of the Soviet period (from the late 1920s to the 1950s), various forms of resistance appeared in response to different national, religious, and socio-economic issues. During Glasnost and Perestroika in the late 1980s, larger protest movements started to emerge. In the beginning, these were often linked to environmental demonstrations, but later transformed into wider national liberation movements. Since the three South Caucasus countries regained independence, forms of public participation have been transforming. Apart from the mass rallies in the capitals, we have witnessed individual acts of resistance and smaller-scale/issue-based demonstrations in industrial towns or mountainous regions across the South Caucasus. In the context of ongoing discussions about growing nihilism in the three societies, we invite you to discuss important expressions of public participation in the history of the South Caucasus and how to look back at these events. We also pose the question of how these social activities of the 19th and 20th centuries have been commemorated through the means of memory politics: monuments, history textbooks, plaques, etc.

Day 1: October 26

11:45-12:00 (Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan time)

Welcome Speech by Dr. Sonja Schiffers, Director of the Heinrich Boell Foundation Tbilisi Office

  • South Caucasus Region and Professor Nino Doborjginidze, Rector of Ilia State University.

12:00-13:30 Panel Discussion (I)

Practices of Self-Organization on the Grassroots Level during Imperial (Tsarist and Ottoman) Rule


  • Turkay Gasimli, independent researcher;
  • Hasmik Khalapyan, Assistant Professor at the American University of Armenia;
  • Irakli Khvadagiani, historian, Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB);

Moderation: Sevil Huseynova, Social Anthropologist, Humboldt University of Berlin - Institute for

European Ethnology.

13:30-14:30 Lunch Break 

14:30-16:00 Panel Discussion (II)

Solidarity Practices and Mobilization from Below During Early Soviet Rule


  • Nugzar Papuashvili, Professor, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University;
  • Nelli Manucharyan, Research Fellow, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, National
  • Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia;
  • Togrul Veliyev, independent economist;

Moderation: Ketevan Gurchiani, Professor, Ilia State University.

Day 2: October 27

11:00-12:30 Panel Discussion (III)

From Samizdat to Mass Mobilization: Changing Forms of Public Participation during the Late Soviet Period


  • Gabriel Chubinidze, researcher;
  • Vahram Martirosyan, writer;
  • Dr. Shalala Mamedova, independent researcher;

Moderation: Eviya Hovhannisyan, Project coordinator, hbs Yerevan, South Caucasus Region

12:30-13:30 Break

13:30-15:00 Discussion: How are current-day public participation practices influenced by the protest culture of the 1980-1990s?


  • Giorgi Maisuradze, Professor, Ilia State University;
  • Nazrin Gadimova-Akbulut, independent researcher;
  • Garik Miskaryan, co-founder of the Restart Foundation for Science and Education;

Moderation: Keti Sartania, researcher.

Working Languages: Georgian, English (simultaneous translation will be provided)

Date: October 26-27

Location: Ilia State University, Building G, Hall G106, 1 Giorgi Tsereteli Street.



Bottom Banners