Review of Mariam Lordkipanidze "The Abkhazians and Abkhazia" Tbilisi, 1990, by Yuri Voronov

Mariam Lordkipanidze "The Abkhazians and Abkhazia"
(in Georgian, Russian and English); Tbilisi, 1990: Ganatleba (75pp.)

Reviewed by Yuri Voronov (1941-1995)
The Institute of Language, Literature and History
Sukhum, Abkhazia

The school of scholarship to which Mariam Lordkipanidze (ML),  professor of history and corresponding-member  of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, belongs represents a typical extension of  the Soviet administrative system. Already in the 1930s the history of the peoples of the USSR was placed in the hands of the Academies of Sciences of the 15 Union Republics, where social scientists at once became appendages of the ideological structures whose purpose was to prove the superiority of the native peoples over the non-native, of the large nations over the small. In practical terms this led  to the extinction of the more objective schools of Caucasology in Leningrad (St. Petersburg)  and Moscow. In each republic there became established standard variants of local history, and, when in the 1970s the need arose for  a composite history of the countries of Transcaucasia, it became clear that  the views about this history among leading representative academics in  the respective republics were so divergent that such a jointly prepared general work on this theme was quite out of the question.

The position of the Autonomous Republics within the Union Republics is that of  3rd-class states. This gave life to yet another tier of historical elaboration, which re-cut the cloth  of the history of these autonomies in accordance with the  conception of the leading scholars within each Union Republic. Such manipulation of history took on the shape here and there of actual law. Thus, for instance, in Georgia in 1949 with the aim of keeping local materials out of the hands of Russian and foreign researchers a special law  was promulgated according to which archaeological research on the territory of the republic was forbidden  to all persons and organisations which have no relations with the Georgian Academy of Sciences. When in 1966 I began to concern  myself with the study of Abkhazia, my first articles in Moscow scholarly journals resulted in the procurator  issuing a search-warrant against me and in further victimisation. Since  I persevered in my investigations, matters reached such a pitch that the government of Georgia in 1979 obtained through the agency of Soviet  Politburo ideologue Mikhail Suslov a special veto over the publication of my books in Moscow publishing-houses on the grounds that my work was not in harmony with the 'achievements'  of Georgian scholars!

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