Caucasus Studies I
SummaryThe course gives the student a broad knowledge of the Caucasus – a politically turbulent region with high ethnic diversity in a vulnerable geopolitical location. It offers an introduction to the Caucasus region, its ethnic groups and languages, history and recent political developments.
General entry requirements + English B.
For Swedish Upper Secondary Grades merit rating will be calculated according to Områdesbehörighet 6/A6
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What is Caucasus Studies?
Caucasus Studies at Malmö University is an ‘area study’. It is based on the assumption that the history of the Caucasus matters for the understanding of contemporary political, social and economic developments and that the region’s unique geographical location is crucial for understanding the conflict dynamics in the region.
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The Caucasus region is located at the crossroads of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Historically the region has been dominated by different empires, including the Ottoman Empire, Persia, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War the Caucasus region has obtained a new strategic significance. Regional great powers – Turkey, Iran, Russia – again compete for political influence in the region, which is also rich in energy resources and constitutes an important transit corridor for oil and gas from the Caspian basin to Western markets. New external actors, notably USA and the EU, compete with the ‘traditional’ regional powers for political influence in the Caucasus region and for control over its strategically important energy resources and pipeline routes.
The Caucasus is one of the most complex regions of the world in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity. Contested borders divide similar ethnic groups and nationalities. Feelings of national 'we' are weak, while sub-national identities (clan, ethnic groups, region) are strong. The Caucasus is also a meeting place for different Islamic, Christian and pre-Christian religious traditions. Our courses provide students with an understanding of the role of ethnicity, language and religion in the post-Soviet state- and nation-building processes.
What makes Caucasus Studies unique?
Caucasus Studies at Malmö University is the only center in Western Europe providing distance learning courses on this topic. The flexible online design makes it easy for students to follow the courses in their home country and even to combine them with orther studies or work.
The multidisciplinary staff consists of researchers with solid knowledge of the particularities of the Caucasus region, combined with extensive experience from doing field work in the region.
Caucasus Studies at Malmö Universiy has tight links with academic institutions and scholars in the Caucasus Region, as well as other international institutions with Caucasus research. The center often hosts academics from the region who stay at Malmö University campus and actively involve in Caucasus Studies courses and research.
Introduction to Caucasus Studies
A language of the Caucasus (choice of Georgian and Russian)
Post-Soviet developments in the Caucasus
History of the Caucasus
Meet one of our students
Alex Calvo lives in Barcelona. He studied law at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), London University and became a corporate lawyer at a bank. Later he started his own practice and at the same time embarked on an academic career. He is currently an international relations professor, and head of the department, at European University (Barcelona Campus). He is specialised in Asian security and defence.
How come you were interested in Caucasus studies and the region?
Although not my original focus of interest, I gradually came to realize its significance, both in historical terms and to understand many contemporary issues. I also happened to have a few students from the region. As I result, I felt I needed to at least gain a basic understanding of the area.
Why is Caucasus studies an interesting subject?
The region has, among other things, a rich history, an interesting geography, and a complex and fascinating mixture of peoples, languages, and religions. As a result, the subject is suitable for all sorts of people.
Why did you choose Malmö University?
Because it offered me the possibility of studying online, and because the courses seemed to me comprehensive and well designed. Since I am currently working, it is difficult for me to attend lectures. On the other hand, I value the possibility of studying a number of subjects, presented in a logical order, and with the right coordination. The Caucasus Studies courses at Malmö are much more than a mere collection of subjects.
Do you speak any of the languages of the Caucasus?
Not really, I just have a very basic knowledge of Georgian, acquired in one of the modules in the courses.
How did you find studying and working at the same time?
It is a challenge, although an increasingly necessary one nowadays. However, the materials at Malmö University make the task much easier, and I always found the lecturers very supportive.
Was the course useful for you in your professional career?
Yes, indeed, since it allowed me to teach more effectively on many issues related to the region.
Do you have any advice for students doing online courses?
Effective time management is essential. There is no single magical solution, of course, but as a general rule I would suggest drawing up a schedule and sticking to it. It is also useful to begin one’s background reading as soon as possible.
Syllabus for students autumn 2019
- Course Code:
- IM112L revision 2.1
- Level of specialisation
- Main fields of study:
- No main fields
- Date of ratification:
- 13 June 2019
- Decision-making body:
- Faculty of Culture and Society
- Enforcement date:
- 02 September 2019
- Replaces Syllabus ratified:
- 01 March 2012
General entry requirements + English B.
Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations
The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at undergradate level.
The course gives the student a broad knowledge of the Caucasus – a politically turbulent region with high ethnic diversity in a vulnerable geopolitical location. It offers an introduction to the Caucasus region, its ethnic groups and languages, history and recent political developments.
The course includes an overview of the history of the Caucasus region under Russian and Soviet rule, as well as earlier history of the region. Against this background the course focuses on problems within the Caucaus region related to the transition from Soviet power to democracy and market relations in the Post-Soviet period. The course gives basic skills in one of the languages of the Caucasus region as a useful tool in future field studies and work in the region or contacts with original materials.
The course is divided into four 7,5 ECTS modules:
1. Introduction to Caucasus Studies
2. A language of the Caucasus
3. History of the Caucasus
4. Post-Soviet developments in the Caucasus
Knowledge and understanding
After finishing the course, the student shall:
have a basic knowledge of the Caucasus region, including its geography, ethnic composition, main languages, religions, demographic distribution, political systems, economy, administrative division;
demonstrate understanding of the role of history and geopolitics in present political developments in the Caucasus region;
demonstrate knowledge of existent research within Caucasus Studies as well as of topical empirical issues related to the Caucasus region;
have an introductory knowledge of one language of the Caucasus, and
be familiar with Malmö University’s perspective areas: environment, gender, migration and ethnicity.
Skills and abilities
After finishing the course, the student shall be able to:
apply obtained knowledge of the geographical, political, socio-economic and cultural characteristics of the Caucasus region as tools in further analyses of empirical reports as well as theoretical works on the region;
interpret current political, cultural and socio-economic processes in the region within the framework of Soviet as well as earlier history;
engage in simple communicative situations in one language of the Caucasus, and
demonstrate ability to relate knowledge about Malmö University’s perspective areas to current issues in Caucasus region.
Critical skills and approach
After finishing the course, the student shall:
Demonstrate an ability to evaluate sources and assess bias in material used as empirical evidence.
- online lectures
- online forum discussions
- mandatory assignments
- interactive exercises
- independent reading
- individual studies
Assessments are based on mandatory assignments, group or individual on-line presentations and short essays. The language module is assessed differently (cf. syllabus of the language course). The total grade for the course is the amalgamate grade of the (ECTS) grades obtained for the four course modules.
There are two resubmission possibilities for failed assignments/ presentation/ essays. Each examination moment will be resubmitted in the same form as the original examination.
Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).
Course literature and other teaching materials
- Coene, F. The Caucasus: an introduction. Routledge, 2009 (255 p.)
Literature depends on the language chosen. Cf. the syllabus of the language course.
3. History of the Caucasus
- Banerji, Arap. 2006. Notes on the Histories of History in the Soviet Union in Economic and Political Weekly 41 (9): 826-833.
- Caucasus Analytical Digest. 2009. Writing National Histories: Coming to Terms with the Past.
- Gammer, Moshe and Vera Kaplan. 2013. Post-Soviet Narratives of the Conquest of the Caucasus in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 61 (1): 26-46.
- Garagozov, Rauf. 2012. Azerbaijani history and nationalism in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods: challenges and dilemmas in Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflicts 5 (2): 136-142.
- King, Charles. 2008. The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Kolstø, Pål & Aleksander Rusetskii. 2012. Power Differentials and Identity Formation: Images of Self and Other on the Russian-Georgian Boundary in National Identities 14 (2): 139-155.
- Rouvinski, Vladimir. 2007. "History Speaks Our Language!" A Comparative Study of Historical Narratives in Soviet and Post-Soviet School Textbooks in the Caucasus in Internationale Schulbuchforschung 29 (3): 235-257.
- Suny, Ronald. 2009. Truth in Telling: Reconciling Realities in the Genocide of the Ottoman Armenians in The American Historical Review 114 (4): 930-946.
- Åslund, Anders. 2008. ‘Transition Economies.’ In: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty.
- Cornell Caspian Consulting. 2002. The South Caucasus: A Regional Overview and Conflict Assessment, SIDA, Department for Central and Eastern Europe.
- Dudwick, Nora, Elizabeth Gomart, and Alexandre Marc. 2003. When Things Fall Apart: Qualitative Studies of Poverty in the Former Soviet Union. Washington DC: The World Bank. [Selected chapters]
- Fairbanks, Charles H. 2001. “Disillusionments in the Caucasus and Central Asia”. Journal of Democracy, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 49-56.
- Gafarli, Orhan et al. 2016. “The Role of Global and Regional Actors in the South Caucasus”. Caucasus Edition - Journal of Conflict Transformation, June 1. 2016.
- Hunter, Shireen T. “The Evolution of the Foreign Policy of the Transcaucasian States” In: Garry K. Bertsch et al. (eds), Crossroad and Conflict. Security and Foreign Policy in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Florence: Taylor and Francis, 1999. pp 25-47.
- Kempe, Iris et. al. (eds). ”Social Capital.” Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD), issue 31, November 2011. Pp: 1-18.
- Malek, M. 2006. “The South Caucasus at the Crossroads: Ethno-territorial Conflicts, Russian Interests, and the Access to Energy Resources”. In: G. Hauser & F. Kernic (eds.) European security in transition. Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006, p.145-160.
- McFaul, Michael. 2005. “Transitions from Postcommunism”. Journal of Democracy, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 5-19.
- Philip G. Roeder. 1998. “Liberalization and Ethnic Entrepreneurs in the Soviet Successor States” In: Beverly Crawford and Ronnie D. Lipschutz. (eds.) The Myth of “Ethnic Conflict”: Politics, Economics, and “Cultural” Violence. University of California at Berkeley. Pp. 78-107.
Additional online resources and articles will be included when relevant.
All students are given the opportunity to comment the course at the end of the term in an online survey. A compilation of the results will be available on the university computer net. Students are also given the opportunity to offer oral feedback at various points earlier in the term.