WiP: Georgian Muslim women and identity in Adjara, 7 May – Inga Popovaite

American Councils, CRRC and ARISC present the 12th talk in the Spring 2014 Works-in-Progress Series!

Inga Popovaite, Central European University
“Religious and National Aspects of Georgian Muslim Women’s Identity in Adjara”

Wednesday, 7 May, 2014 at 6:15pm
EPF/CRRC-Georgia, Kavsadze St. 3, Tbilisi

To this day, the questions surrounding ethnic Georgian Muslim identity, both in the international and local scholarly literature, have been discussed from a masculine perspective. Thus I address the less visible part of Georgian Muslim society and analyze how Georgian Muslim women in Adjara manage to be “proper” Georgians and “proper” Muslims at the same time, and examine why they keep their faith rather than following the trend towards conversion to Christianity.

Based on Tajfel and Brubaker’s theories on identity, as well as feminist approaches to nation and religion, I hypothesize that Georgian Muslim women in Adjara experience a discrepancy between the Muslim and Georgian aspects of their identity due to reasons connected to biological and cultural reproduction and group boundary maintenance. And the narrative of keeping the Islamic faith is connected to the respondents’ perceived role as protectors of the cultural group boundaries as well as protectors of the Islamic religious and cultural values.

The talk will be based on preliminary analysis of qualitative data collected during intensive field research in Adjara (Batumi and Khulo) and will shed light on everyday life and identity negotiation of Georgian Muslim women.

Inga Popovaite has been living in Georgia on-and-off since January 2010. She is currently an MA student in the Department of Nationalism Studies in the Central European University, Budapest. Inga holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Klaipeda (Lithuania) and analyses the politics of Eastern Europe and Caucasus in the Lithuanian media. She also is a part of a research team and does online ethnography for a joint Edgeryders and UNDP project “Spot the Future”. Her academic interests include Georgian nation-state building, the interaction of politics and religion in a formally secular state, minority protection, ethnically framed conflicts, identity policies and politics more generally.


W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the Eurasian Partnership Foundation at Kavsadze St. 3. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to natia@crrccenters.org.