TRADITIONAL LAW IN THE CAUCASUS Local Legal Practices in the Georgian Lowlands
Stéphane Voell (ed.) 2016
Svan people of the Georgian lowlands proudly talk about their traditional law and stress that it continues to be practiced in their new villages. While this is not wrong, Svan legal concepts are not only invoked with reference to conflict resolution and social order. In the new villages, traditional law rather represents a cultural narrative and a strategy of social localisation for people who were forced to migrate from their highland home to the south of the country.
The practice of traditional law in Georgia has been described mostly for the mountain regions. A Georgian-German research team investigated how former mountain dwellers who were relocated from Svaneti to southern Georgia rely on local legal conceptions in everyday life. Research showed that traditional law is still practiced, but only rarely used as a legal frame of reference. In the lowlands Svan traditional law should rather be described in terms of cultural narratives and a strategy of social localisation. In their individual papers the researchers discuss the practice of traditional law in Soviet times, blood feuding, concepts of honour and shame in gender relations and the spatial dimension of cultural narratives.