Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationFree U. Tbilisi
Grant numberGr. 10257
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleBatiashvili, Nutsa (Free U. Tbilisi) "Caring for ‘National Treasure’: Political Agency of Heritage Objects in the Caucasian Highlands"
The proposed project studies how practices of ‘caring for’ and ‘guarding’ Medieval churches and religious objects in the Caucasian highland region of Upper Svaneti enact forms of livelihood and relations of power in a social field defined by geographic remoteness, scarce resources, unstable (tourism-dependent) economy and poorly sustained infrastructure.
Upper Svaneti is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. Designated as ‘gandzi’/’sagandzuri’ (treasure) medieval artifacts kept in churches, besides ritual function, serve as discursive and affective nucleus for communal life in some of the most inaccessible villages and enable power practices for renegotiating local sovereignty vis-‘-vis the state and the Orthodox Church. Through phenomenology of caring I explore agentive capacity of ‘gandzi’ as a symbolic assemblage that engenders distinct forms of power relations on local and national scale.