Destruction of Institute of History and Ethnology
23 January, 2014
Destruction of Institute of History and Ethnology
The strategically important Institute of History and Ethnology is endangered. Ministry of Education has announced that it will be removed from the list of organizations financed by the state and will not have a permanent budget. The Institute is supposed to work on the grant system, but that will cause many problems – and the institute is even losing its building. Georgian Journal talked to the director of Institute of History and Ethnology, Vazha Kiknadze, about the problems.
Vazha Kiknadze:
“This institute was established in 1917. It was the center for the study of history and archaeology of Caucasus. In 1940 it was united with the Academy of Sciences and had different names, and finally was shaped into the Institute of History and Ethnology after Ivane Javakhishvili. In 2010 it joined Ivane Javakhishvili State University. But this is not the problem, the problem is that we have to perform our main function to research the history of Georgia and countries that are in our neighborhood. This is very important from a scientific and political point of view.
Q. What’s the most important research being done in the institute right now?
A. We have 5 years of research on Shida Kartli and Apkhazeti on historical, ethnological and also anthropological subjects. We are studying the ecclesiastic history of the middle ages. We use new methods of learning and research. But this research is not for research only: it should be used actively for different and also political reasons, because we see challenges from different countries that fake history. First of all are Russia and the separatist regions. There are guides and books with terrible content that say that Georgia was never settled by Georgians, and this is just territory where Georgians were settled during Soviet Union period. And we don’t respond to this kind of attacks - and I mean the state here. For example, in Shida Kartli there are so many Georgian temples, yet they dare say Georgians never lived here. And this information we also see in school books. They are created in Russia. For example, in December 2013 in Yerevan they recently held a conference about the security of Transcaucasia. The deputy of the director of Strategic Research in Conjuncture with Russia, Mikheil Chernov, said that Georgia is not a state, but only an area that Russia will need to have three ways to connect to Armenia. And there was no reaction to this statement - not from scientists nor from officials. Maybe it sounds absurd but they stated that it will happen soon and it was an official speech.
Q. Do you share your information with officials? And how can you make it useful?
A. This is how we do it: we share on our web site all the information. Besides, there is an NGO called Club of Experts, and we were providing it with our information; they are publishing it on their site in Russian and English. But this NGO has some problems and we are in a tough situation because scientists and science are stressed.
Q. What is the main problem your institute faces right now?
A. With the statement by the Ministry of Education, we are deprived of basic financing - and it happened without any kind of consultation with us. We got a document on 6 January informing us about it. We and all the institutes that were part of the Academy of Sciences will move to a grant system financing, which is disappointing because only 40% of our collaborators can get grants, and the young generation will not have opportunities because of lack of experience. Besides, how can the institute with its institutional functions exist on grants only? There are administration, chancellery, library, archive, etc. that need separate finances. There are 70 collaborators and nearly 50 scientists in our organization. This is a dead end for such fundamental science. Besides, there are problems with the building of our institute. David Kodua came and informed us that the building infringed upon the tennis courts and it belongs to him. Right now on our demand the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating. Without the building we will not exist, besides we have a huge and unique library and archive, and it will be very tough to move all the things.

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