Georgian Portraits

Georgian Portraits

Essays on the Afterlives of a Revolution

Ten ethnographic portraits telling the story of the social and political aftermaths of revolution.


Georgian Portraits chronicles everyday life in the Republic of Georgia in the decade that followed the Rose Revolution of 2003. Recent anthropological developments argue for the use of “afterlives” as an analytical notion through which to understand processes of socio-political change. Based on a series of portraits, Martin Demant Frederiksen and Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen employ the theory of social afterlives to examine the role of revolution in the formation of a modern Georgia. The book contributes to a deeper understanding of life in the aftermath of political reform, depicting the hopefulness of the Georgian population, but also the subsequent return to political disillusionment which lead them to a revolution in the first place.


What happens after a revolution, when the bright and shiny finish has worn off its ideals? Capturing the weirdness and the wonder of post-revolutionary Georgia, Frederiksen and Gotfredsen also capture people's very real struggles to get by, their fears of war and their dreams of a "European" future. Beautifully and hauntingly written, this book captures not only Georgia's politics, but its soul. ~ Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, author of Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business and the Remaking of Labor

Revolutions are as much made of dreams as real events, and these dreams have afterlives as ghosts as the revolutionary hope fades into disappointment or despair. Writing the history of a revolutionary period is difficult, especially writing one that deals with the fundamentally emergent nature of a revolutionary period, as this one does, embracing the confusion of tenses in which the present is pregnant with the future and the future becomes a past as a condition of narration. This book tracks the lively history of Rose Revolutionary Georgia in a lovely and vivid manner, an engaging narrative full of lively characters, beginning always from small things and local perspectives that show the Rose Revolutionary period as a series of hopes and dreams, programs and disappointments. Misha Saakashvili appears throughout, sometimes as a real historical person, sometimes also an imagined demiurge, sometimes a fraudulent trickster. The ways a revolution changes a society are here portrayed from many perspectives, and the way the revolutionary dreams sometimes became haunting ghosts shows how a single moment can become a whole period of social life. ~ Paul Manning, author of Love Stories: Private Love and Public Romance in Georgia

This book is crafted as a compendium of tacit knowledge about Georgia, harboring an array of insights that capture the tensions and ambiguities of a country that finds itself back from the future and poised between assembly and disassembly. The image of the portrait is therefore very accurate, reflecting the make-believe realities and re-enactments faced by the authors. Thumbing through its pages, I discovered how anthropological variations can be interwoven through biographies, social affects and political afterlives. This type of scholarship is not only inspiring and informative, but also pleasure to read. Georgia is a country for storytellers and vernacular Sisyphus of life, being Martin Demant Frederiksen and Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen the perfect example of this contagious ardor. The intimate and sharp look achieved by the authors makes this collection an important milestone in the discussion of contemporary social dynamics in Eastern Europe and the understanding of human condition overall. ~ Francisco Martínez, author of Playgrounds and Battlefields: Critical Perspectives of Social Engagement

Martin Demant Frederiksen
Martin Demant Frederiksen Martin Demant Frederiksen is postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in an...
Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen
Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Copenhagen. She has done extensive fieldwork in the Republic ...
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