Social Violence and Political Transformation in the North Caucasus, by Charles King

Charles King
Georgetown University

IREX Short-Term Travel Grant (STG)
Research Report  
STG 2006-2007
Social Violence and Political Transformation in the North Caucasus  
Topic of Research
The  aim  of  this  research  project was  to  interact with  leading  scholars,  journalists,  and  social activists  in  the north Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria,  in  the wake of the escalation of social violence in the region nearly a year ago. The central purpose was to uncover the origins of social violence  in a north Caucasus republic which, until  recently, has been  largely  immune from  the serious  interethnic discord and  irregular warfare of Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite the republic’s multiethnic nature—with Adyga-speaking Circassians (also known as Kabardians) living  alongside  Turkic-speaking  Balkars,  in  addition  to  Russians  and  other  groups—the northwest Caucasus has so far remained more peaceful than the northeast. But with the attack on  regional  administrative  buildings  in  Nalchik,  the  republican  capital  in  October  2005,  the possibility  of  large-scale  violence  spreading  from  the  northeast  to  the  northwest  Caucasus began to look like a real possibility.
More broadly, the purpose of the trip was to familiarize myself with the northwest Caucasus and to  learn as much as possible about Circassian culture and history  in  the  limited  time  I was on the ground. The northwest is a region that is very infrequently visited by Westerners (or, indeed, by Russians who do not have  family  there). This  trip represented a unique opportunity  to  learn about a part of the Caucasus which is becoming increasingly important.

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