How European We Are: Georgians? Identity Concerns in the Process of Europeanisation

    • Europe Inside-Out Nice 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Lia Tsuladze, Tbilisi State University and Research Fellow, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford


    The paper discusses Georgians’ popular discourses on Europeanisation focusing on their main identity concerns. The first concern relates to Georgians’ Europeanness by making a sharp division between the ‘European’ and ‘Third World’ identities and trying to find out how European Georgians are. This question has become especially crucial after Georgia’s signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, which has encouraged the population to search for the closer ties with the European identity. These efforts are reflected in Georgians’ performances of Europeanness, which differ in the periods before and after signing the document, leading them to the next concern about when to claim which identity. In this context, Goffmanian frontstage and backstage performances represent a useful tool to make sense of Georgians’ twofold performances of Europeanness intended for the international and local audiences respectively. Such performances illustrate Georgians’ selective use of national narratives showing either their frontstage preoccupation with the fast integration into the European Family or their backstage anxiety about the declining national identity as an outcome of the ongoing Europeanisation process. However, as the evidence shows, after signing the EU-Georgia association agreement, the above frontstage discourses have penetrated the backstage, shifting Georgians’ worries from the declining national identity to their fragile or even questionable Europeanness. The latter provokes their next concern about the country’s rather uncertain position on the Europeanisation scale. Nevertheless, Georgia strives to integrate with the EU and its progress towards this aim will likely encourage specific responses to the above identity concerns.