Agnieszka Dudrak

Travelling Empowerments Ethnography of Projects against Domestic Violence in Georgia

After the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia gained its independence and became one of the countries in “transition” to democracy. This change attracted various development agencies, and attracted money, people, material goods, ideas, and initiated changes in various aspects of everyday life. My research about the projects against domestic violence in Georgia should be understood within this particular context. I am interested in diverse appropriations and (re)creations of what I call “travelling empowerments”- an international collection of naming, imagining, and managing the problem of domestic violence. I assume that these travelling resources do not arrive in a social, gender-neutral and historical vacuum, and wish to understand how they are embedded in, and how they (re)create gender relations, social policies, politics, and other aspects of the contemporary Georgian everyday life. I ask, for instance, such questions as: How in this particular moment of the history, the so-called “domestic violence”, becomes a public problem in Georgia? Who and how participates in the public construction of this problem? How this concrete visibility of the problem might contribute to the invisibility of other women’s painful experiences? In addition, I am interested in the unstandardized and often circumstantial ways of dealing with problems generally labelled “gender-based violence” and “domestic violence” by women themselves, NGO workers, and other various actors.
The objective of this project is to extend our knowledge about developmental processes, the social construction of public problems, and contribute to the opening of the black-box of women’s everyday painful life experiences. The overarching goal is to creatively rethink the current methodology of managing and raising public awareness of such problems as domestic violence.  The first step toward this goal was achieved through the exhibition called Supra of Her Own I had a chance to make with artist Tamuna Chabashvili. The exhibition described the silent and invisible character of women’s painful experiences and asked two seemingly simple questions: How can it be that these experiences remain invisible? How can we make them public? The exhibition is available on our blog: https://supraofherown.wordpress.com