Caucasian Languages Disappear from the Curriculum at London University

17 September 2015 - AbkhazWorld.com

AbkhazWorld - You retired at the end of August 2015. This also means the end of Georgian/Caucasian Studies at SOAS. Could you please tell us the brief history of this post and how long you have been working at SOAS?

HEWITT - When Japan entered the IInd World War, the government/allies found themselves suddenly in need of experts in Japanese and other far-eastern languages, and it was immediately clear that there was a deficit of such knowledge. After the war ended, the British government decided to take precautionary measures to ensure that, if hostilities broke out again in certain parts of the world, expertise would be in place. And so, a number of Treasury Scholarships were set up. The arrangement was as follows. Talented language-undergraduates (especially at Oxford and Cambridge) were identified and made a most attractive offer: if they agreed to specialise in one of the oriental languages deemed to be of national importance, they were offered 6 years of tuition on a lecturer’s salary firstly with an appropriate tutor (wherever one could be found), whilst the final 2 years would be spent in the country where their language was spoken (or, if the country in question was closed, as in the case of the USSR, within a diaspora-community), and then, after the learning period was over, a lectureship was guaranteed. Since several (?the majority) of the languages concerned were in parts of the world that fell within SOAS’ remit, a number of such posts were established there. Such was the beginning of both Georgian and Armenian studies at SOAS. Both new lecturers were Cambridge graduates in Russian and, I think, German: David Marshall Lang (1924-1991 from St. John’s College) for Georgian, and Charles Dowsett (1924-1998 from Peterhouse) for Armenian. Dowsett stayed at SOAS until the Gulbenkan Foundation established the Armenian chair at Oxford in 1965, for Dowsett was offered the professorship. At that time Armenian was lost to SOAS — an attempt to revive it a few years ago failed. Georgian continued to be covered by Lang (as lecturer, reader and lastly professor) until his early retirement in the mid-1980s. After an interregnum, when the University Grants’ Council (applying the Thatcherite squeeze on universities) was closing small departments in the UK university-system, my own Linguistics’ Department at Hull was one to suffer this fate in 1988, at which moment I was transferred to SOAS. At first, I was half in the Linguistics’ Department and half in the NME Department, but from 1992 I was a member exclusively of the latter department. Thus, my tenure at SOAS was 27 years.

Read more: Caucasian Languages Disappear from the Curriculum at London University

Pridon Dochia: Interview with George Hewitt

On 15 August 2012, the Tbilisi-based Mingrelian journalist Pridon Dochia, representing a Georgian internet-media-group interested in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, sent me the following questions in Georgian. On 19 August I sent him my replies, also in Georgian. The following is my translation of the Q-&-A exchange.

Read more: Pridon Dochia: Interview with George Hewitt

South Ossetia and Abkhazia: what is next? (RT - Video)

RT Spotlight: Today we will talk about the consequences Augusts South Ossetia conflict. Following the bloody and ill-fated attempt by Georgia to capture South Ossetia, Russia grudgingly recognised the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, thus satisfying the long-standing aspiration of these two nations. What does this recognition mean for these peoples and for their international relations? Well discuss these questions with two professors: Robert Legvold, a Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, and George Hewitt of the University of London.

Read more: South Ossetia and Abkhazia: what is next? (RT - Video)

"Войны не будет, если Запад не станет вооружать Грузию" Подробнее

Rosbalt, 5 August 2010

- Изменилось ли как-то на Западе за эти два года отношение к проблеме признания независимости Южной Осетии и Абхазии?

- Я не вижу никаких существенных изменений. На Западе есть такие люди, как специальный представитель ЕС по Южному Кавказу Питер Семнеби, британский эксперт Том де Вааль и американские ученые Линкольн Митчелл и Александер Кулей, которые призывают к «контактированию без признания» (англ. «Engagement without Recognition») с непризнанными республиками Закавказья. Но у меня такое ощущение, что, говоря об этом, они скорее имеют в виду Абхазию, чем Южную Осетию. Даже если они имеют в виду и Южную Осетию, то я не до конца понимаю, чего они хотят добиться с помощью такой политики, кроме как до определенной степени ограничить влияние России в этих регионах. Конечно, если новообразованные государства могут получить какую-то выгоду от этой политики, они должны ею воспользоваться, а затем продолжать настаивать на полном признании их независимого статуса.

Read more: "Войны не будет, если Запад не станет вооружать Грузию" Подробнее

Abkhazia has the potential to be a successful state

Win.ru - By Marat Kunaev

If Georgians/Georgian politicians really believe the rhetoric of their statements on the ’occupied territories’, they are living in a fantasy world. If they don’t believe it, then they are engaging in utterly cynical attempts to deceive their Western supporters. Either way, they are doomed to fail, just as everything else they’ve attempted since 1989 with regard to either Abkhazia or S. Ossetia had led to failure. They are their own worst enemies, but they refuse to recognize this or any other aspect of reality on the ground.

Read more: Abkhazia has the potential to be a successful state

The accelerated recognition of Georgia helped to instigate the ethno-political conflicts

Caucasus Times, 16 November 2010

PRAGUE, November 16, Caucasus Times , continuing the "Caucasian Chalk Circle" - a series of interviews with experts on the Caucasus, political scientists from the U.S., Europe and Asia, presents to you a conversation with George Hewitt.

George Hewitt is British and Professor of Caucasian Languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. Since the mid 1970's, he has been studying the history, languages and cultures of the peoples of the Caucasus. He speaks Georgian and published a self-tutor for Abkhaz earlier this year. His Learner's Grammar of the Georgian language has been published in two editions in Britain (1996 and 2005).

Read more: The accelerated recognition of Georgia helped to instigate the ethno-political conflicts

CRIA: Interview with Prof. George Hewitt

Caucasian Review of International Affairs, From Vol. 3 (2) - Spring 2009

Prof. George Hewitt is a leading scholar of Abkhazian and Georgian languages and culture, and author of: Georgian, a Structural Reference Grammar (John Benjamin, 1995), and A Georgian Reader (SOAS, 1996); Hewitt is also a contributor to OpenDemocracy.net. Some of his other works include ‘Peoples of the Caucasus’ (in F. Fernández-Armesto, ed. Guide to the Peoples of Europe (Times Books, 1994)); and The Abkhazians, a handbook (as author & editor, Curzon Press, 1999).

Read more: CRIA: Interview with Prof. George Hewitt

Republic of Abkhazia: A Conversation with George Hewitt

therepublicofabkhazia.org

The following is a Q and A with George Hewitt, a self-described "working-class Yorkshire boy," who is one of the world's experts on Georgian/Caucasian languages and history. After studying as a student in Georgia in the 1970s, he married an Abkhazian and began spending more time in that part of the Caucasus. He divides his time between Britain, where he is a professor at SOAS, London University, and Abkhazia, where he holds an honorary professorship at Abkhazian State University and is an honorary fellow of both the Abkhazian and Circassian Academies. In recognition of his deep understanding of Abkhazia, Hewitt was invited by the first president of Abkhazia, Vladislaw Ardzinba, to serve as honorary consul for Abkhazia in the U.K. He is currently writing a book on the region.

Read more: Republic of Abkhazia: A Conversation with George Hewitt

Abkhaz footprints in Yorkshire - Agency Caucasus (P3)

GEORGE HEWITT'S STORY AND ABKHAZIA'S CURRENT TOPICS

9 May 2002, Agency Caucasus By Fehim Tastekin - Zeynel Abidin Besleney

Part III

The Best is Federation or Confederation

- Tension has risen in Abkhazia since the entry of Ruslan Gelayev and his men to Kodor Gorge last September. Scenarios have been produced as to possible Georgian plans to re-attack Abkhazia. Do you think it is realistic to consider that the Georgians may try to repeat what they did in 1992 regardless of the presence of the UN and the CIS Peacekeepers and of the current state of affairs that are different from that of 1992?

Read more: Abkhaz footprints in Yorkshire - Agency Caucasus (P3)

Abkhaz footprints in Yorkshire - Agency Caucasus (P2)

GEORGE HEWITT'S STORY AND ABKHAZIA'S CURRENT TOPICS

9 May 2002, Agency Caucasus By Fehim Tastekin - Zeynel Abidin Besleney

Part II

Heritage in Yorkshire

- Now with your permission, I would like to talk about your family life. How much of Abkhazian culture do you think is practised in your household or in other words do you think that your wife brought with hers some Abkhazian culture into your family?

Read more: Abkhaz footprints in Yorkshire - Agency Caucasus (P2)

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