An in-depth look at urban youth in the Republic of Georgia offering new perspectives on how time and marginality are interlinked
Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia
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Martin Demant Frederiksen
In the midst of societal optimism, how do young men cope with the loss of a vibrant future? Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia provides a vivid exploration of the tension between subjective and societal time and the ways these tensions create experiences of marginality among under- or unemployed young men in the Republic of Georgia.
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Martin Demant Frederiksen shows how the Georgian state has attempted to make the so-called post-Soviet transition a thing of the past as it creates new ideas about the future. Yet some young men in the regional capital of Batumi do not feel that they are part of the progression these changes create. Instead, they feel marginalized both by space and time—passed over and without prospects.
This distinctive case study provides empirical evidence for a deeper understanding of contemporary societal developments and their effects on individual experiences.
"Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia is a really interesting, gripping, ethnographic narrative about boredom and despair. The innovative theoretical perspectives on ruins, haunting, time, and temporality are all presented with a light touch that never moves far from the reality that inspires them and that they illuminate. Frederiksen generates endless surprises and immense insights: abjection, despair, deprivation, and boredom are not simple things as a simple realist exposition would have them. They are generated at the boundaries of realities and imaginaries, localities and elsewhere—a present that is shot through with the haunting of pasts and futures. This book is fascinating, thought provoking, and illuminating."
"The author spent approximately a year participating in the lives of 30 underemployed young men.... The author has a keen eye for telling ethnographic details, and liberal use of his graphic field notes makes it clear that he was an accepted and even cherished member of these brotherhoods. Moreover, his evocative photographs of various sites help to transport the reader into post-Soviet Georgia. There are funny scenes in this touching ethnography and a wealth of insight, as well, but the overall tone of these observations is poignant.... From these lives, the author extracts a rich conceptual framework.... The author concludes that his informants experience ‘temporal marginalization’ – an ingenious concept with wide applicability."
"With detailed attention to the contours of everyday life, Frederiksen describes the balance between the forms of creative work pursued by his informants against the imagined (and real) forces of the 'dark side' of Batumi, which consists in part of organized crime, drugs, alcohol, frustration and boredom.... Frederiksen alternates between two primary narrative modes: in-depth, nuanced accounts of the lives of his informants, and theory-minded discussions of ruins, temporality, and the fragility of masculinity in post-Soviet space.... In Frederiksen’s account, one senses that forms of discomfort, psychic distress, and alienation are connected to specific conditions in post-2004 Batumi, Georgia. Scholars of cultural anthropology will enjoy this provocative and stylistically compelling monograph."
"Frederiksen’s text is written in a very lively way, presenting long passages of first-hand observations and quotations. The events are presented in chronological order as they happened during the course of the year that the author spent in the field. This allows for dramaturgy and for the reader to fully accompany the unfolding of events. When one of the boys is taken to prison, the reader will want to know why. And when finally, sadly, one of them dies, the reader most likely shares the grief. This monograph really takes readers into the field, and its characters become fully alive. This cannot be praised enough..... This seminal book introduces a whole new approach to Caucasus studies and will greatly impact the future of this discipline in the coming years."
"[A]n intimate and compassionate look at the lives of underprivileged young men in the Republic of Georgia.... [Frederiksen] is particularly interested in the tension between a rapidly changing social world and individual experiences of those who feel alienated from this material and societal transformation.... Frederiksen’s account of the lives of young men in Batumi should be of interest to readers seeking to understand the situation of youth in post-Soviet societies, as well as to anyone with an interest in the Republic of Georgia or the entire Caucasus region. In addition, by focusing his attention on men rather than women, the author contributes to the emerging scholarship on the frailty of masculinity in post-Soviet societies."
"Martin Frederiksen has crafted a profound book combining perceptive ethnographic research, thoughtful thematic organization, and substantial discussions of theory. He does this by focusing on unemployed and underemployed young men, ages 18–25, living in the city of Batumi in the Ajara region of the former Soviet state of Georgia.... Frederiksen’s book makes a substantial contribution to both anthropology and area studies for the former Soviet Union."
"[A] compelling and intimate portrait of the lives of under- and unemployed young men struggling to attain social adulthood in Georgia's troubled post-socialist economy. The book makes timely and important contributions to the study of youth unemployment, structural instability, and social experiences of time.... Frederiksen's thoughtful ethnography points to important lines of inquiry into the politics of boredom and belonging."
"Frederiksen provides an abundance of evidence about [men's] feelings of both emasculation and despair due to their inability to participate in the new state-defined discourses of the future... [His] book is an important contribution to the history of dispossessed young men and protest masculinity. It is also a welcome addition to anthropological discussions of marginality and its temporal dimensions."
Section I. “IN A QUIET SWAMP, THERE ARE DEVILS WANDERING”: RUINS AND GHOSTS IN BATUMI
Section II. DAILY INTO THE BLUE? YOUNG LIVES BETWEEN LONGING AND ENGAGEMENT
Section III. THE FUTURE HAUNTING THE PRESENT
Section IV. APPARITIONS
Martin Demant Frederiksen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
In the series
Global Youth, edited by Craig Jeffrey and Jane Dyson.
The Global Youth Series, edited by Craig Jeffrey and Jane Dyson, comprises research-based studies of young people in the context of global social, political and economic change. The series brings together work that examines youth and aspects of global change within sociology, anthropology, development studies, geography, and educational studies. Our emphasis is on youth in areas of the world that are often excluded from mainstream discussions of young people, such as Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, but we also welcome studies from Western Europe and North America, and books that bridge the global north and global south.