‘Why do Caucasian Studies Matter?’
On 21 November, I attended a seminar organised by the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, The University of Birmingham, to celebrate the publication of a special issue of Europe-Asia Studies (vol. 64, no. 9, 2012) on ‘Many Faces of the Caucasus’. Short introductory talks on different aspects of ‘Caucasian Studies’ were given by four academics and a speech was also made by the Georgian ambassador to the UK and Ireland, Giorgi Badridze.
The presentations outlined the long historical and cultural background to the region as a whole, its more recent turbulent history since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, and its contemporary geo-political and economic significance, particularly in relation to European energy resources. All of the academic presentations endorsed the need to extend study of the region, whilst the Georgian ambassador encouraged contemporary researchers to move away from a Russo-centric view not only of the Georgian past, but also of the future prospects for regional integration.
Bordered by Turkey and Iran to the south and the Russian Federation to the north, with coastlines to the Black Sea on the West and the Caspian Sea to the East, the Caucasus is a region of vital strategic and economic importance. There is great potential for inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research to be conducted on the region.