Memorializing Akhundzadeh: Contradictory Cosmopolitanism and Post-Soviet Narcissism in Old Tbilisi

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Abstract

While the cosmopolitan turn in political and literary theory encourages us to move beyond national frameworks, the Caucasus remains mired in ethno-national categories from the Soviet past. This essay examines how these categories are being mobilized in the service of a nominally cosmopolitan agenda in the contemporary memorialization of the writer and critic Mirza Fath ʿAli Akhundzadeh (1812–1878). My discussion focuses on Akhundzadeh’s house museum in contemporary Tbilisi and the uses to which it has been put over the course of the past decade. I consider how bringing together the divergent Soviet, Azeri, and Iranian literary and intellectual trajectories of Akhundzadeh’s legacy can foster a robust cosmopolitanism that moves beyond the normativity of the nation as the basic unit for writing literary history. Akhundzadeh's legacy shows that when the literary history of the Caucasus is viewed from outside nationalist paradigms, its geography appears less marginal, and its margins more central, to world literature than our current literary geographies envision.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-509
Number of pages22
JournalInterventions
Volume20
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2018

Keywords

  • Akhundov, Akhundzadah, Akhundzadeh, Caucasus, Cosmopolitanism, Cosmopolitics, Empire, Iran, Museums, Nationalism, Persian, Post-Soviet, Postcolonial, Soviet, Tbilisi

ASJC Scopus subject areas