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A conflict that did not happen: revisiting the Javakhk affair in Georgia


Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract During and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, several violent conflicts erupted in different parts of its (former) territory. The South Caucasus region has experienced three ethnically rooted violent conflicts, yet other ethnic disputes in the same region remained dormant. Despite an extensive literature on the South Caucasus conflicts, research on those ethnic disputes that could have erupted during the collapse of the Soviet Union is scarce. This article discusses the case of the Armenian populated region of Javakhk (Javakheti) in Georgia. It explores the questions of how, unlike the Abkhazian and South Ossetian movements that were able to effectively mobilize against Georgian calls for sovereignty leading up to the Soviet collapse, Armenian populated territories in Georgia remained relatively quiet. Considering that the primary ethnic minority groups within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic could each be linked by concerns over demographic shifts, economic discrimination/resource allocation, and political representation, the absence of conflict in Javakhk, as well as in Kvemo Kartli, is somewhat surprising. Based on existing theories of nationalism and ethnic conflicts and field interviews with the leaders of the popular movements in Javakhk, the paper examines the underlying reasons for the lack of conflict there. - 'Nations and Nationalism, EarlyView. '