In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region
Edited By Ghia Nodia and Christoph H. Stefes
Return or Integration? Politicizing Displacement in Georgia
ABSTRACT: Displacement in Georgia is highly politicized. By invoking inflated numbers of IDPs, failing to integrate them, or trying to discourage spontaneous return, the Georgian government’s actions at times point to their use of IDPs as a political weapon. We examine the discourses and policies surrounding IDPs, including laws designed to deal with them, institutions that manage them, and political statements about IDPs, as forms of governmentality and geopower. We critically assess Georgian IDP policies and discourses, documenting the shift from solely prioritizing return to, after 2007, allowing room, alongside the rhetoric of return, for a specific understanding of integration. Our analysis highlights how, for the Georgian government, the meaning of integration is constructed in a narrow fashion, primarily understood as the provision of housing.
KEYWORDS: internally displaced persons (IDPs), Georgia, Abkhazia, displacement, governmentality, geopower, integration, return
Displacement, and the networks, policies, and institutions that seek to govern and manage the displaced, are always politicized (Zetter, 1991; Holtzman and Nezam, 2004; Haider, 2010).1 In Georgia, the resolution of displacement and the right of the displaced to return is highly politicized (Mundt and Ferris, 2008; Mooney, 2011). Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been a major concern for the Georgian government and, since 1992, hundreds of legislative acts have been adopted to manage IDPs ← 183 | 184 → (Tarkhan-Mouravi, 2009; UNHCR, 2009).2 Despite this attention, a comprehensive IDP policy was not seriously contemplated by the Georgian government until 2006, through the State Strategy document, 15 years...
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