Caucasus Studies II

Course - first cycle - 31-60 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2020, autumn 2019

Course Code:
IM113L 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

Entry requirements

Prerequisite courses for this course are: Passed courses: IM112E-Caucasus Studies I.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at undergradate level.


On the basis of the course Caucasus Studies I, which gives the student a broad knowledge of the Caucasus region with its ethnic groups and languages, history and recent political developments, the course Caucasus Studies II focuses on central issues in Post-Soviet Caucasus, including nation- and statebuilding, intrastate conflicts and migration processes.


The course develops the student’s understanding of processes related to the building of modern state structures and the construction of national identities in the politically complex and ethnically diverse Caucasus region.
The course is divided into four 7,5 ECTS modules:
1. Nation and State building in the Caucasus
2. Peoples and Languages of the Caucasus
3. Conflicts and Conflict resolution in the Caucasus
4. The Caucasus region: causes and consequences of migration
Following the module Nation and State building in the Caucasus the course offers further specialization into the study of peoples and languages of the Caucasus and the study of the region’s violent ethnopolitical conflicts in the Post-Soviet period and extensive migration flows. The module Peoples and languages of the Caucasus gives an overview of the multitude of languages and ethnic groups in the Caucasus region and relates this to state and nation building processes. The module Conflicts and conflict resolution in the Caucasus analyses a selection of violent ethnopolitical conflicts in the Caucasus region on the basis of existing conflict theories and models for conflict resolution.
For students who wish to focus on languages, there is an option to study a language of the Caucasus instead of one of the modules (3) and (4) (for learning outcomes and course literature of this module, see corresponding course plan of the language in question).

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
After finishing the course, the student shall:
• Have achieved knowledge of major approaches to nation- and statebuilding processes;
• have achieved understanding of general as well as specific problems related to nation- and statebuilding processes in the Caucasus region;
• demonstrate understanding of major theoretical approaches to violent intra-state conflicts and conflict resolution;
• demonstrate knowledge of area specific conflict generating factors;
• demonstrate understanding of specific as well as general problems related to conflict resolution in the Caucasus area;
• have achieved understanding of general as well as specific problems related to migration processes within and from the Caucasus region;
• have achieved knowledge of languages and religions of major ethnic groups and subgroups in the Caucasus region;
• have achieved knowledge of earlier and Post-Soviet language policies and minority rights;
• have achieved understanding of the role in society of the ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity of the Caucasus region.
Skills and abilities
After finishing the course, the student shall be able to:
• Demonstrate skills in applying theoretical tools in analyses of violent intrastate conflicts;
• reflect over the basic assumptions of different approaches to intrastate conflicts;
• critically assess possible solutions to intrastate conflicts based on, and implicit in, the theoretical approaches discussed in the course;
• demonstrate skills in applying theoretical tools to analyses of migration within and from the Caucasus region;
• critically reflect over the role in society of the ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity in the 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.

Learning activities

- 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.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

1. State and Nation-building in the Caucasus
  • Cornell, Svante E. 2015. Azerbaijan Since Independence. Armonk, UK: Taylor and Francis. [Selected chapters]
  • Hille, Charlotte. 2010. State Building and Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus. Leiden: Brill. [Selected chapters]
  • Holsti, Kalevi J. 1996. The State, War, and the State of War. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 82-122
  • Kolstø, Pål & Helge Blakkisrud. 2008. “Living with Non-recognition: State and Nationbuilding in South Caucasian Quasi-states”, Europe Asia Studies, 60(3): 484-509.
  • Kolstø, Pål. 1996. “Nation-building in the former USSR”, Journal of Democracy, 7(1): 118-132
  • Kuzio, Taras. 2001. “Transition in Post-Communist States: Triple or Quadruple?” Politics, 21(3): 168–177.
  • Mitchell, Lincoln A. 2009. “Compromising democracy: State building in Saakashvili’s Georgia”. Central Asian Survey, 28(2):171-183
  • Panossian, Ramzik. 2006. “Post Soviet Armenia: Nationalism & its (Dis)Contents”, in: Barrington Lowell, After Independence. Making and Protecting the Nation in Postcolonial and Post Communist States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Pp. 225-247.
  • Polese, Abel & Rekhviashvili, Lela (Eds.). 2017. “Informality and power in the South Caucasus.” Caucasus Survey, 5(1).
  • Reddaway et. al. 2004. “The War in Chechnya as a Paradigm of Russian State-building under Putin”, Post-Soviet Affairs 20, 1. Pp. 10-19.
2. Peoples and Languages of the Caucasus
  • Bedford, Sofie and Emil Aslan Souleimanov. 2016. Under construction and highly contested: Islam in the post-Soviet Caucasus. Third World Quarterly, 2016, Vol. 37, No. 9, 1559–1580.
  • Catford, J.C. 1977. Mountain of Tongues: The Languages of the Caucasus. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 6, (1977), pp. 283-314.
  • Charles, Robia. 2010. Religiosity in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Caucasus Analytical Digest. No 20: Religion in the South Caucasus, 2010. pp. 2-6.
  • Comrie, Bernard. 2008. Linguistic Diversity in the Caucasus. Annual Review of Anthropology; 2008, Vol. 37, Issue 1, pp. 131-143.
  • Grenoble, Lenore A. 2003. Language Policy in the Soviet Union. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Pavlenko, Aneta. 2008. Multilingualism in Post-Soviet Countries: Language Revival, Language Removal, and Sociolinguistic Theory. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Volume 11, Issue 3-4, pp. 275-314.
3. Conflicts and Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus
  • Broers, Laurence. 2009. David and Goliath and Georgians in the Kremlin: a post-colonial perspective on conflict in post-Soviet Georgia in Central Asian Survey 28 (2): 99-118.
  • Gerrits, André & Max Bader. 2015. Russian patronage over Abkhazia and South Ossetia: implications for conflict resolution in East European Politics 32 (3): 297-313.
  • Kaufman, Stuart. 2001. Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press
  • Kaufmann, Chaim. 1996. Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars in International Security 20 (4): 136-175.
  • Posen, Barry. 1993. The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict in Survival 35 (1): 27-47.
  • Siroky, David. 2011. Explaining Secession (pp. 45-80) in Aleksandar Pavkovic & Peter Radan (eds.) The Ashgate Research Companion to Secession. Burlington: Ashgate.
  • Souleimanov, Emil. 2015. An ethnography of counterinsurgency: kadyrovtsy and Russia's policy of Chechenization in Post-Soviet Affairs 31 (2): 91-114.
  • Varshney, Ashutosh. 2007. Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict (pp. 274-294) in Carles Boix & Susan Carol Stokes (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4. The Caucasus Region: Causes and Consequences of Migration
  • Dermendzhieva, Zvezda. 2011. Emigration from the South Caucasus: who goes abroad and what are the economic implications? in Post-Communist Economies 23 (3): 377-398.
  • Holland, Edward. 2016. Economic Development and Subsidies in the North Caucasus in Problems of Post-Communism 63 (1): 50-61.
  • Judah, Ben. 2013. Russia’s Migration Crisis in Survival 55 (6): 123-131.
  • Kreiten, Irma. 2009. A colonial experiment in cleansing: the Russian conquest of Western Caucasus, 1856-65 in Journal of Genocide Research 11 (2/3): 213-241.
  • Lewis, Robert & Richard Rowland. 1977. East is West and West is East: Population Redistribution in the USSR and Its Impact on Society in The International Migration Review 11 (1): 3-29.
  • Martin, Terry. 1998. The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing in Journal of Modern History 70 (4): 813-861.
  • Polian, Pavel. 2004. Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR. Budapest: Central European University Press.
  • Sammut, Dennis. 2001. Population Displacement in the Caucasus: An Overview in Central Asian Survey 20 (1): 55-62.

Course evaluation

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.