Black Sea Studies: The Past, Present, and Future of a Region -- Participant List

Brief biographies of conference participants by panel.

Keynote Speaker: Martin Lewis is a Professor of International History at Stanford University. 

Martin W. Lewis is a senior lecturer emeritus in international history at Stanford University. Although trained as a geographer of Southeast Asia at the University of California at Berkeley, he has long focused his research on the geographical foundations of world history, global divisions and world regionalization, and the development and spread of language families. He is the author or co-author of: Wagering the Land: Ritual, Capital, and Environmental Degradation in the Cordillera of Northern Luzon, 1900-1986; The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography; Diversity Amid Globalization: World Regions, Environment, Development; and The Indo-European Controversy: Facts and Fallacies in Historical Linguistic. He blogs on all things geohistorical at, and frequently teaches adult education classes on the history and geography of current global events. 

Panel I: Legacies

Timothy Blauvelt is Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Ilia State University. 

Prior to arriving at Ilia State he taught Soviet political history at Tbilisi State University for five years. He initially came to Georgia to conduct research for his PhD dissertation in 1999-2000 (which he defended at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2001), and returned as a Fulbright visiting professor in 2002-3. He is currently also Regional Director for the South Caucasus for American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS. He has published numerous articles about Russian and Soviet, and Caucasus political history, clientalism, nationality policy and nationalism in Ab ImperioEurope-Asia StudiesCommunist & Post-Communist Studies, Kritika, Nationalities Papers, War & Society, Revolutionary Russia, The Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Caucasus Survey, and Central Asian Survey. His book Georgia after Stalin: Nationalism and Soviet Power, co-edited with Jeremy Smith, was published by Routledge in 2015.

Gelina Harlaftis is the Director of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), Professor of Maritime History in the University of Crete, and a member of the Academia Europaea. 

She graduated from the University of Athens and completed her graduate studies in the Universities of Cambridge (M.Phil.) and Oxford (D.Phil.). She served as President of the International Maritime Economic History Αssociation (2004-2008). In 2009 she was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University, and in 2008 was an International Visiting Scholar at Harvard Business School. Her research interests include maritime history, economic and social history, business history, global history and diaspora history. She has published 31 books through English, Canadian and Greek publishing houses and more than 70 articles in edited volumes and international peer-reviewed journals. Her last book is titled Creating Global Shipping. Vagliano Brothers, Aristotle Onassis and the Evolution of Greek Shipping Business, 1820s-1970s, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2019). 

Stella Ghervas is a Professor and Chair of Russian History at Newcastle University, incoming Eugen Weber Chair in Modern European History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Associate of the Department of History at Harvard University, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  

Her main research interests are in the intellectual and international history of modern Europe, with special reference to the history of peace and peace-making, and in Russia’s intellectual and maritime history. She has held teaching, research and visiting positions in Australia, France, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Stella is the author or editor of six books, most notably Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte Alliance (Honoré Champion, 2008, which won the Guizot Prize from the Académie Française); A Cultural History of Peace in the Age of Enlightenment, co-edited with David Armitage (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020); and Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union (Harvard University Press, 2021) which won the 2023 Laura Shannon Prize. She is now working on a new book Calming the Waters? A New History of the Black Sea, and an anthology of essential texts on peace from the Antiquity to the present day

Adrian Brisku is a Professor of Comparative History at Ilia State University and Professor on the Caucasus at Charles University

He is the author of Bittersweet Europe (Berghahn Books, 2013), Political Reform in the Ottoman and Russian Empires (Bloomsbury, 2017[2019]) and the co-editor of The Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic of 1918 (Routledge, 2021). 

Mykola Riabchuk is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Nationalities' Studies in Kyiv and, currently, a visiting researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies in Amsterdam. 

He penned dozen books translated into several languages and many articles and book chapters, primarily on postcommunist transformation, state-nation building, national identity and Ukrainian-Russian relations. His latest publications (in English) include Eastern Europe since 1989: Between the Loosened Authoritarianism and Unconsolidated Democracy (Warsaw, 2020), and At the Fence of Metternich’s Garden: Essays on Europe, Ukraine, and Europeanization (Stuttgart, 2021). In 2014-2018, he headed the Ukrainian Center of PEN International and retained the title of its honorary president. His work was distinguished also with the Taras Shevchenko National Prize in Arts and Literature (2022) and “Bene merito” medal of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009) for a significant contribution in Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. In the Fall 2022, he is a visiting researcher at LISD co-teaching (with Prof. Mark R. Beissinger) POL 432: Seminar in Comparative Politics: Russia, Ukraine, and the New Cold War.

Panel 2:  Crossings

Kären Wigen is Frances & Charles Field Professor in History at Stanford, University. 

She teaches Japanese history and the history of cartography. A geographer by training, she earned her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. Her first book, The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920 (1995), mapped the economic transformation of southern Nagano Prefecture during the heyday of the silk industry. Her second book, A Malleable Map: Geographies of Restoration in Central Japan, 1600-1912 (2010), returned to the ground of that study, exploring the roles of cartography, chorography, and regionalism in the making of modern Shinano.  An abiding interest in world history led her to co-author The Myth of Continents (1997) with Martin Lewis. She also introduced a forum on oceans in history for the American Historical Review and co-edited Seascapes: Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges (2007) with Jerry Bentley and Renate Bridenthal. Her latest book is another collaboration, Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era, coedited with Caroline Winterer (2020).

Eyüp Özveren is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Middle East Technical University. 

He is an Istanbul-based independent scholar and Emeritus Professor at his alma mater, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey, where he earned his B.Sc. in Economics (1981), after graduating from American Robert College in Istanbul (1977). He got his PhD in Sociology (1990) from the State University of New York at Binghamton where he also worked as a research associate at the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations. Upon his return to METU, he taught economic thought and economic history on a regular basis in the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, and cinema and comparative literature intermittently in the graduate program in Media and Cultural Studies. As a transdisciplinary scholar, he has contributed regularly to Mediterranean Studies, as well as being a pioneer of Black Sea Studies since the 1990s.

Florian Mühlfried is a Professor of Social Anthropology at Ilia State University. 

He also served as a Lecturer at the Tbilisi State University, a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, a Visiting Professor at the State University of Campinas (Brazil), and an Assistant Professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany). His publications include the monographs Ungovernance and Anti-Governance (2022, in German), Mistrust: A Global Perspective (2019) and Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia (2014), the edited volume Mistrust: Ethnographic Approximations (2018), as well as the co-edited volumes Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces: Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus (2018) and Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia (2011). He is an editor of the journal Caucasus Survey and a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge Journal for Anthropology

David Darchiashvili is a Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Security Studies at Ilia State University, and a former Member of Georgian Parliament. 

David has written extensively on Georgian and regional security and civil-military relations, on Georgian policies and political elites. Recently founded the Center for Russian Studies, Georgia. Has also developed a special interest in the Polish case of nation-building. Among Darchiashvili's international publications one may note Georgia: Darchiashvili, David, 1997, Georgia: The Search for State Security, Caucasus Working Papers, CISAC, CA, USA; Darchiashvili, David, Jones, Stephen, 2020, Georgia: Warlords, Generals, and Politicians, Oxford Research Encyclopedias (28 September 2020). In 2002-2003 he was a Fulbright fellow at Johns Hopkins University, DC, USA. In 2004-2007 he served as executive director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation. In 2008-2016 was a member of the parliament of Georgia. 

Panel 3: Interventions in the Landscape

Kelly O'Neill is the Director of the Imperiia Project at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. 

Kelly O'Neill is a historian of the Russian Empire. Formerly an associate professor History at Harvard, she now directs a research initiative that promotes the integration of qualitative, quantitative, and spatial methods into the study of the past. The author of Claiming Crimea: A History of Catherine the Great’s Southern Empire (Yale University Press, 2017) and articles in Cahiers du monde russe, Ab imperio, and Central Eurasian Studies Review, Dr. O’Neill has recently published a series of interactive maps, datasets, and multimedia essays on topics related to spatial history and cartography. Her work is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Kelly holds both a Ph.D. in History (2006) and an A.M. in Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (2000) from Harvard University.

Anna Sydorenko is a postdoctoral researcher at the project “JaNet: Janissaries in Ottoman Port-Cities: Muslim Financial and Political Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean (2020-2025)” in the Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH. 

Anna graduated from the Department of Political Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and in 2017 was awarded a doctorate in History by the Ionian University, Corfu. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the project “Janissaries in Ottoman Port-Cities: Muslim Financial and Political Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean” (ERC Starting Grant 2019, project coordinator Yannis Spyropoulos) in the Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas. Her research focuses on maritime economic and social history, port history, Ukrainian history, Russian imperial history and the Greek diaspora.

Joseph Salukvadze is a Professor of Human Geography at Tbilisi State University. 

Joseph is a human geographer, professor at the Department of Human Geography, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Tbilisi State University (TSU). In 1991-92 he was the Swedish Institute research fellow at Stockholm and Lund universities; in 1998-99 – Fulbright scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, and a visiting professor at the Technical University of Munich (2002-2018). In 2014-2017 he served as vice-rector of TSU; in 2008-2016 - a vice-president of the Geographic Society of Georgia. Currently he is a member of the scientific steering group for the Scientific Network of the Caucasus Mountain Region.  Over three decades he has co-operated with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN Habitat, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other international agencies such as KfW, GIZ, USAID.

Ketevan Gurchiani is a Professor of Anthropology at Ilia State University and a member of The Working Group on Lived Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. 

Ketevan’s research has recently focused on the domesticated and non-domesticated nature of the city and on informal practices of resistance. Since 2020, Ketevan has been leading the project: 'Tbilisi as an Urban Assemblage' and working on Anthropology of Gardens “Otherwise and Elsewhere” (since 2022). She has published in the areas of urban anthropology, religious anthropology, migration, and peace practices. Her recent publications include: "The Hidden Power of Trees. Urban Resistance in Tbilisi" (2022) in: Covert Resistance in Democratic Societies (in German). Frankfurter Beiträge zur Soziologie und Sozialphilosophie. Vol. 35, pp. 157-188 Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/New York and "Rivers Between Nature, Infrastructure, and Religion." Central Asian Survey (2022): 1-20. 2021. 

Tuesday Lunch Remarks

Mark Elliott, PhD is Vice Provost for International Affairs, Harvard University and the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and in the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Elliott is an authority on the last four centuries of Chinese history, in particular the Qing period, with special attention to questions of frontier, ethnicity, and empire. As Vice Provost, Elliott works to support and advance Harvard’s international academic engagement, extending the global reach of its research and teaching and supporting the university’s international community in Cambridge/Boston and around the world. A graduate of Yale, Elliott earned his PhD in History at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at Harvard since 2003.  

Panel 4:  Literature and Culture

Stephen Jones is the Director of the Program on Georgian Studies at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. 

Stephen received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1984. He has taught at the universities of California, London, and Oxford.  He was a Research Fellow at Harvard University and a Senior Associate Member at St Anthony’s College, Oxford. Since 1989 he has taught at Mount Holyoke College (USA). His books include Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917 (Harvard University, 2005), War and Revolution in the Caucasus: Georgia Ablaze, (ed., Routledge, 2010), Georgia: A Political History Since Independence (I.B. Tauris, 20012), and The Birth of Modern Georgia: The First Georgian Republic and Its Successors, 1918-2010(ed., Routledge, 2013).  He was the English Language Editor-in-Chief of kartlis tskhovreba (The History of Georgia), (Georgian Academy of Sciences and Artanuji Publishers, 2014), and principal editor for a three-volume set in Georgian of Noe Jordania’s speeches and writing. Professor Jones is a Foreign Member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and received an honorary doctorate from Tbilisi State University in 2012, and Ilia State University in 2018.  

Giga Zedania is a Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies at Ilia State University. 

Giga is a professor and former rector of Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. Having studied philosophy, sociology and cultural studies in Georgia, USA, Hungary, and Germany, he has authored and edited numerous publications, among them Modernization in Georgia: Theories, Discourses and Realities (2018).

Kevin Tuite is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Montreal. 

Kevin directed the Caucasus Studies Department at the University of Jena from 2011 to 2014. He has been conducting research in Georgia since 1985. His principal interests at present are Kartvelian historical linguistics, vernacular religion in highland Georgia (Svaneti and Pshav-Khevsureti), and the cult of St George. Among his publications are: Violet on the Mountain. An Anthology of Georgian Folk Poetry. (1994, 2nd revised ed. 2004); “Lightning, sacrifice and possession in the traditional religions of the Caucasus.” Anthropos 99 (2004): 143-159 (part I), 481-497 (part II); Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces: Pilgrims, Saints and Scholars in the Caucasus, (2018, co-edited with Tsypylma Darieva and Florian Mühlfried); and “The Old Georgian Version of the Miracle of St George, the Princess and the Dragon: Text, Commentary and Translation” (2022, in Sharing Myths, Texts and Sanctuaries in the South Caucasus, ed. Igor Dorfmann-Lazarev). 

Zaal Andronikashvili is a research fellow at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies in Berlin and Professor at Ilia State University. 

Zaal studied History, Archeology and German Philology in Tbilisi and Saarbrücken and completed his PhD at the Göttingen-University (2005) on Generation of Drama Text. Towards the Theory of Plot (Berlin, 2008). Currently he coordinates a Project at the ZfL funded by the Volkswagen Foundation “Batumi, Odessa, Trabzon. Cultural Semantics of the Black Sea from the Perspective of Eastern Port Cities”. His research interests include theory of Plot, Cultural Semantics of geographical Space, Cultural History of Georgia, USSR, the Caucasus and the Black Sea Region, World Literature

Panel 5a: International Perspectives

Stephen Jones is the Director of the Program on Georgian Studies at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. 

(see above) 

Shota Kakabadze is a Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics and a postdoctoral fellow at the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE). 

Shota has been a Swedish Institute Research Fellow at Uppsala University Institute of Russia and Eurasian Studies, as well as a Junior Researcher of International Relations at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu. His main research interests includes discourses on national identity, foreign policy, Eastern Partnership. He has published several academic articles and a book chapter on Georgian national identity/foreign policy relationship. 

Adrian Stanica is the Director General of GeoEcoMar. 

Adrian served as the scientific director of the GeoEcoMar from 2008 -2016. His main scientific expertise is in coastal dynamics and natural resource management. He earned his PhD in Marine Geology at the University of Bucharest, Romania in 2003. He has been involved in the creation and implementation of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for the Black Sea. He served as coordinator of the Horizon 2020 Developing Optimal and Open Research Support (DOORS) for the Black Sea and SUST-BLACK Projects, and WP leader for H2020 Black Sea CONNECT project, Coordinator of the DANUBIUS-RI ESFRI Project, general coordinator of HORIZON EUROPE DANUBIUS Implementaiton Phase project and H2020 DANUBIUS Preparatory Phase Project. Since 2023, he has been involved in the European working groups for Blue Growth (Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership). In 2019, he was named Honorary Professor of the University of Stirling, UK. 

Revaz Gachechiladze is a Professor of Human Geography at Tbilisi State University. 

Revaz graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies (History Department, Tbilisi State University, and received his Ph.D. and D.Sc. degrees in Political and Economic Geography from TSU in 1969 and 1990. He is the Director of the Institute of Georgia’s Neighborhood Studies, TSU. He has taught at the Universities of Tbilisi, Oxford, and Mount Holyoke College, USA. He has written over 160 books and articles in history, as well as in social and political geography. His books include The New Georgia: Space, Society, Politics (UCL Press London, 1995), The Middle East: Space, People and Politics (three editions, 2003-2011, Tbilisi, Bakur Sulakauri Publishing: in Georgian), Georgia in the World Context: Highlights of the History of the 20th and 21st centuries (2013 and 2017 editions, Tbilisi, Bakur Sulakauri Publishing: in Georgian). And Georgia, the United Kingdom: Space, Society, Politics (Tbilisi University Press, 2016). Professor Gachechiladze is a Corresponding Member of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences.

Panel 5B:  Regional Strategies

Giga Zedania is a Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies at Ilia State University. 

(see above)

Natalie Sabanadze is the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor in International Relations at Mount Holyoke College and was the Georgian Ambassador to the European Union. 

Ambassador Sabanadze previously served as head of the Georgian mission to the European Union and ambassador plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Belgium and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg since 2013. In the period of 2005-2013, she worked at the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in The Hague, Netherlands, where she held several senior positions including head of Central and Southeast Europe section and later, head of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia section. Natalie Sabanadze holds DPhil from Oxford University, MSc from London School of Economics and BA from Mount Holyoke College. She has published and lectured extensively on European integration, nationalism and globalization, ethnic conflict and national minorities and contemporary Russian politics. 

Mamuka Tsereteli is a Senior Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at School of International Service at American University and a Senior  Fellow at Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, part of American Foreign Policy Council. 

Mamuka served as Director for the Center for Black Sea-Caspian Studies at AU between 2009-2013, and as an Assistant Professor at School of International Service in 2007-2011. Dr. Tsereteli also served as a member of the part time faculty at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. His areas of interests include international relations and international economic policy, economic and energy security, political and economic risk analysis and mitigation strategies, and business development. Dr. Tsereteli previously served as Founding Executive Director at the America-Georgia Business Council (and currently continues to serve as a president of the organization), and Economic Counselor at the Embassy of Georgia in Washington, covering relationships with International Financial Institutions, US assistance programs and business initiatives. He is an author of many academic and policy-focused publications. 

Ghia Nodia is a Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Security Studies and Director of the International School of Caucasus Studies at Ilia State University and a Chairman at the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, an independent public policy think tank in Tbilisi, Georgia. In February–December 2008, he served as the minister for education and science of Georgia. 

Panel 6:  Perspectives on Security and Trade (Student Panel)

Stephen Jones is the Director of the Program on Georgian Studies at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. 

(see above)

Kelly O'Neill is Director of the Imperiia Project at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. 

(see above)

Davit Antonyan is a senior at Harvard College studying Government with a secondary in Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian regional studies. His interests have been shaped mainly by his childhood in Armenia and his subsequent years since migrating to the United States. His research applies a comparative framework to understanding the history and politics of the Caucasus in the 20th and 21st centuries. After graduating, Davit is considering a career in journalism and foreign policy, and hopes to continue making contributions to Armenian and Caucasus studies.

Alexandra Restrepo is a senior at Harvard Extension School studying International Relations with a minor in Government. Her interest in the Black Sea stems from a desire to work in international security and government affairs following graduation. Throughout Alexandra’s studies, she has earned a certificate from the Harvard Davis Center Negotiation Task Force for Red Horizon: Force and Diplomacy in Eurasia and she has interned with the U.S. Army Cyber Command through the State Department’s Virtual Student Federal Service Program. She has also earned a Professional Communications certificate from Harvard Extension School, and an Associate of Arts in STEM General Studies from Montgomery College, Maryland.

Nino Kotolashvili is a Master's student of Modern Georgian History at Ilia State University. Nino holds a bachelor's degree in History and Political Sciences from Ilia State University. She is a Junior research fellowship scholar of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and accreditation expert of higher educational programs at the National Quality Enhancement Center of Georgia. She has worked for NGOs and community organizations for two years as a project manager and coordinator. She was junior research intern at Soviet Past Research Laboratory and research assistant for the book project "Soviet Georgian History 1921-1991". She has published articles about Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Ilia Chavchavadze's reflection of the Eastern Crisis in 1877-1878, legal dimensions of whistleblowing institution in Georgia, and Georgia's defense capabilities. In 2022 she participated in the Riga Security Conference at Future Leaders Forum.

Ketevan (Katie) Sartania is currently studying at the Modern Georgian History Master's program at Ilia State University. Her research experience concerns the recent history of Georgia: protest movements and narratives of independence. At various times, she worked for local and regional non-governmental organizations researching history and social issues, such as housing policy, IDPs, and political identity of social groups in Georgia. Her research interests include social and dissident movements, nationalism and nationalist movements, social protest movements, revolution and social politics. Since 2022, she has been a member of the Georgian Public Opinion Research Association (GAPOR).

Besik Gochiashvili is a Master's student of Contemporary History of Georgia at Ilia State University. Besik holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Tbilisi State University. His areas of interest are history, foreign policy, European politics, and security studies. In 2020, he passed an internship at the non-governmental organization Media Development Fund. Since November last year, he participated in the Erasmus + project Strengthening of cooperation and mutual understanding between Czechia and the Eastern Partnership.

Giorgi Javakhishvili is an MA student in the Program in Modern History of Georgia at Ilia State University. In 2020, he received his BA in History from Tbilisi State University. In 2019-2023, Giorgi worked at the Study Center-Library of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921), which he led between 2021 and 2023. From 2021, he has been teaching history and civic education at the 6th Public School of Tbilisi. His research interests include the modern history of Georgia, the Caucasus and Russia, cultural history and theory, nationalism and collective memory.

Panel 7: Georgian Perspectives

Natia Gamkrelidze is a Lecturer in Political Science at Linnaeus University and a Researcher on Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research at Malmo University. 

Natia's research interests lie at the intersection of international security, political psychology, and foreign-policy decision-making, with a specific focus on the role of perceptions and images of political elites in foreign policy decision-making. Her Ph.D. project, titled "Reimagining Georgia: Images of Georgia Held by Political Elites in the West, Russia, and Georgia from 1991 to 2020", involved conducting 102 interviews with political elites from the U.S., NATO, EU, Russia, and Georgia. While working on her Ph.D. project, she was a fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City, and a visiting Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Currently, Dr. Gamkrelidze is a lecturer in Political Science at Linnaeus University, as well as a researcher at the Russia and the Caucasus Regional Research (RUCCAR) at Malmö University.

Giorgi Gvalia is the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Education and a Professor of Politics and International Relations at Ilia State University. 

In 2000-2004 Giorgi studied International Relations at the School of International Law and International Relations at Tbilisi State University. In 2007 he completed his MA degree in International Relations at the School of Social and Political Sciences at Tbilisi State University. In 2013 he has earned his PhD in Political Science from Ilia State University. In 2012-2013 he worked as a deputy dean at the school of Business at Ilia State University. Since 2013 he is the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Politics and International Relations. Since 2018 he is the member of Higher Education Authorization Council. In 2011 he was invited researcher at the School of Global Politics at Arizona State University in the United States. Besides academic positions he has worked at several state and non-state institutions, including Georgian Foundations for Strategic and International Studies and National Security Council of Georgia.

Beka Kobakhidze is a Professor of History at Ilia State University and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. 

Beka received his PhD degree from Ivane Javakhishvili State University in Tblisli, Georgia, in 2015. He is a Co-chair of Master’s Program in Modern History of Georgia and Associate Professor at Ilia State University. Kobakhidze has also lectured at Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, the University of Georgia and the Caucasus University. In 2018-19, he was a Visiting Fellow of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford. His research interests lie in the foreign policy of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) and the historical intersection between Russia and the Western Great Powers in the Caucasus.

Malkhaz Toria is a Professor of History at Ilia State University. 

Malkhaz (Ph.D. 2009) is an associate professor of history and the head of the Memory Study Center in the Caucasus at Ilia State University. Additionally, he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the New School for Social Research (NSSR) in New York City. His research interests revolve around the history of Georgian medieval and modern historiography, ethnic processes during Tsarist and Soviet periods, the role of historical discourse and memory politics in regional conflicts in Georgia, as well as the construction of dividing boundaries and politics of exclusion in the breakaway regions of contemporary Georgia. He has pursued these broad research problematics through various post-doctoral fellowships, and the multiple publications and teaching courses reflect his research outcomes. His doctoral dissertation project at NSSR is envisioned as a social microhistory, a historical-sociological reconstruction, and an analysis of the role of politics of memory and identity in escalating the Georgian-Abkhazian relationships during certain key occurrences throughout the Soviet time. The project will illuminate how the contested Georgian and Abkhazian historical narratives revealed and played out in complex social and political settings in a real-life and everyday context.