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Kitaani: A South Ossetian Village in Transition

Stephen Bowers and Ekatarina Janiashvili


Published: 2007/12/01


Simpler folk communities in hitherto remote areas are under increasing pressure as modernization proceeds, especially when these represent minorities that have found themselves suddenly under new governments controlled by ethnically different populations. Other articles published in The Mankind Quarterly have shown how the withdrawal of colonial government from Africa in many cases transferred political power to majority tribes to the disadvantage of minority ethnic groups that had formerly enjoyed protection from exploitation by larger tribes under European colonial governments. A similar situation now exists in the case of the Southern Ossetes, who following the breakup of the USSR have found themselves under Georgian rather than Russian rule, and separated by new border regulations from their brethren, the Northern Ossetes. This brief article stems from a recent visit by the authors to a small Ossetian village in eastern Georgia, whose residents attempt to stay aloof from the current Ossetian independence movement, with its accompanying tensions between the Russian and Georgian governments. Interestingly, the authors note the survival of animist traditions, and the fact that some of the villagers still openly adhere to their ancient Iaghovien cult.

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