Colloquium: “Russians, Go Home”: Towards Understanding Russian (Neo)Imperialism in Tbilisi / Sofia Gavrilova

ქართული ვერსიისთვის გადადით ბმულზე.

On June 30, Friday, at 7:00 pm Tbilisi time, the Institute for Social and Cultural Research at Ilia State University invites you to the last biweekly research colloquium of this semester, which will host Dr. Sofia Gavrilova from the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig (Germany) with the following talk: “Russians, Go Home: Towards Understanding Russian (Neo)Imperialism in Tbilisi.”


My talk explores the relationships between Russian emigrants and local citizens of Tbilisi. It shows the resistance towards increasing Russian presence in Tbilisi – from the numerous graffities to the implementations of “visas” in bars, as a reaction to the destabilized real estate market, an ever-expanding number of Russian, bookstores, and non-governmental organizations.The talk will first provide an overview of my research on the way Russian immigration since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine influences Tbilisi. I will start by sharing insights from a collaborative research I am engaged in (with Olga Bronnikova and Tamara Margvelashvili) on the co-existence of two parallel political cultures and cultures of collective actions (“Georgian” and “Russians in exile”). The talk will then shift to my main current research endeavor, which is understanding the emigrants’ “embodied imperialism” and its role in the production of places in today’s Tbilisi. Based on interviews I have collected during my last year fieldwork in Georgia, I conceptualize the neo-imperial everyday geographies of the Russian emigration and explore how those intersect with the memory of Russian invasions and wars, and with the fact that twenty percent of the country is still occupied by Russia. Last but not least, in my talk I want to engage with the questions of the shifts in the field of Eastern European studies that we are witnessing and how they affect research in the region.


Sofia Gavrilova is a human geographer of the former Soviet space. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, the national identity construction and memory politics in Russia, Georgia and Eastern Europe; questions of knowledge production and its de-sovietization in Central Asia, and South Caucasus; the spatial and environmental history of the Soviet repressions and forced deportations and their aftermath. Her PhD at the University of Oxford lay at the intersection of post-Soviet post-colonial debates, knowledge production, Soviet regional and local identity construction, and museology. By in-depth analysis of the system of kraevedenie (Soviet project of local knowledge production)and kraevedenie museums, she showed how the Soviet patterns of local identity construction, which have been developed in the 1930s and imposed on vast majority of USSR, persisted until contemporary Russia. This research was published as a monograph Russia’s Regional Museums: Representing and Misrepresenting Knowledge about Nature, History and Society in 2022. Currently, Sofia works at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig and is engaged in two major strands of research: On the one hand, she studies the system of the Soviet geographical education and the persistence of the Imperial and Soviet spatial imaginaries, on the other, she explores the influence of the war in Ukraine on the conflicts and peace-making in the South Caucasus. 

The event will take place in English via Zoom. Registration is required.

To register please follow this link.