Ajaran Armenians: Discovering a Seaside Diaspora

Ajara is a unique region in the Caucasus. A state within a state, it is an autonomous republic of Georgia, located in the southwestern corner of the country on the Black Sea coast, with Turkey to the south. It is home to a significant Armenian community and has served as a popular tourist destination for…

Remembering Stalin in Russia and the South Caucasus

In the spring of 2013, major news outlets in Russia, the Caucasus, and the U.S. were abuzz with the news about “Stalin’s long shadow” (NYT), alarmed that “Stalin lives on” (Tert), and that he is “more popular in Russia now than at the end of the Soviet Union” (HuffPost). These articles referred to a survey,…

Commentary: Squandered Opportunity?: Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia, and the Sochi Olympics

The 2014 Sochi Oympics in Russia are due to start just a week from this Friday. Yet, when I was in Yerevan recently, I was somewhat surprised to see a total absence of discussion on the upcoming games. After all, Yerevan is located only 500 miles away from Sochi. Would not the Armenians stand to…

A Lost Soviet Armenian Film

During Soviet times, the cinema industries of Georgia and Armenia proved to be veritable powerhouses not only within the USSR but internationally as well.  Great filmmakers such as Tengiz Abuladze, Sergei Parajanov, Artavazd Peleshyan, and Otar Iosseliani and performers like Sofiko Chiaureli and Frunzik Mkrtchyan effectively put the Caucasus on the map as a major…

The Mother of All Statues

“Heavy Metal Motherland.” Historian Nina Tumarkin coined this term in The Living and the Dead to describe the woman-as-nation statues that rose across Soviet republics during and after World War II. Best known and often recalled are Kiev’s “Mother Motherland” (1981) and Volgograd’s “Motherland Calls” (1967), two gargantuan figures crowning memorial centers to the Great…