Cover Osteuropa 7/2018

In Osteuropa 7/2018

The Colchis and the sea
Elements of a symbolic spatial order in Georgia

Franziska Thun-Hohenstein, Zaal Andronikashvili

Deutsche Fassung


Georgia, a country in the Caucasus. This view from the outside corresponds to the image Georgians have of themselves, with the Black Sea relegated to the background. However, the ancient kingdom of Colchis, in what is now West Georgia, remained a popular destination among travellers until the 19th century, who wanted to see the sites from the Argonaut mythology for themselves. In Georgia, the first novel that dealt with the legend of the theft of the Golden Fleece was not written until 1895. During the Soviet era, the ancient myths were used as propaganda for large-scale economic projects, and to anchor the Soviet Union in the history of human civilisation. The symbolic order of space that Otar Chiladze depicts in his novel, A Man Was Going Down the Road, is entirely different. Here, the sea symbolises foreign influences and a loss of identity, while the Caucasus stands for the indigenous, for a sense of rootedness. The conflict surrounding opening or closure, change or preservation, sea or land, dominates the culture and politics in Georgia to this day.

(Osteuropa 7/2018, pp. 23–45)