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Accepted Paper:

Traditional legal practice in socialist times in Georgia  
Lavrenti Janiashvili (Iv. Javakhishvili Institute of History and Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

In contemporary Georgia, traditional law can be found in the highlands and some other regions. But what are the historical foundations of its present-day practice? My attention is focused on the functions of traditional law institutions in Tsarist and Soviet Georgia (especially in the regions of Svaneti and Kvemo Kartli) and the types of changes they underwent in the 20th century. In Svaneti, traditional law was important in Tsarist Georgia; e.g. the investigator-judge used to visit Svaneti only in summer periods and examined all the cases being piled during a year. On a superficial level, Svaneti was part of the Tsarist legal system. But day-to-day legal practice was not under control of the rarely present judges. This changed considerably in the Soviet times. With the implementation of the Soviet administration and its regulation the importance of, for example, community assemblies, which formed an important aspect in the local self-administration and were a kind of supra local back bone of traditional law, decreased and loosed their function. But still, on the village level, mediation of conflicts through elders persisted and traditional law continued to be practiced even in Soviet times. The relevance of traditional law in Socialist Georgia will be discussed on the basis of material gathered from the study of archive material, specialised literature and interviews.

Panel W109
Law in the Caucasus: anthropological perspectives on legal practice
  Session 1