Jvan Yazdani

Muslim Meskhetian Returnees in Georgia: Finding Home through Memory, History and Place

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Deportazione; Rimpatrio; Mescheti Musulmani; Georgia; Memoria Collettiva.

Muslim Meskhetian (also known as Meskhetian/Ahiska Turks) returnees in Georgia are faced with the challenge of having to historicize the violence of deportation and accommodate their life paths and identities within multiple, often conflicting narratives: those that lie at the heart of their collective identity, and those that are promoted by their receiving societies. The essay takes its cue from the observation of two informants' experiences of transnational mobility and repatriation, and compares the different ways they pursuit a coherent narrative through practices that combine assertions of autochthony with knowledge acquired en route. In the first setting, a recently arrived returnee takes part in a dialogue about the gap separating the material conditions of deportation as outlined in official documents, and as portrayed in the accounts of the survivors. The observation of another returnee's past mobility, and dwelling in his regained homeland, gives us, by contrast, a sense of the ever-present significance of borders and of their regulatory systems. Through the observation of the returnees' personal trajectories we can understand how idioms of repatriation and reparation for past historical injustice are finely related to a quest for recognition within the polity to which they strive to belong. Traumatic memories, nostalgic connections to homeland and day-to-day occurrences and interactions all concur, for the deportees, to the construction of an ethos that neither can bereduced within the boundaries of a fixed, collective identity, nor can be interpreted through the lens of a celebratory understanding of mobility and uprootedness: they offer instead opportunities to observe situated, contingent forms of resistance and adaptation to dominant cultures and regulatory powers.

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