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Dormant Law: The Politics of Russian Language Film Showings in Georgia
Monday, February 29, 2016

In 2011, a law was implemented in Georgia that required all foreign films to be shown with Georgian state language dubbing or subtitling. At the time, Russian was the default language of film showings. The largest movie theater in Tbilisi was fined a year later for showing Russian films, but this had little effect on film showing practices. In this talk, I describe how media language politics involved collaboration among social actors in the Georgian Ministry of Culture, the movie theater industry, and the film dubbing industry. I develop the concept of dormant law to describe how an unenforced, aspirational law can exist as a form of latent, activatable politics. In political and popular discourse at the time, social actors framed Russian as an infrastructurally embedded and potentially hazardous symbolic resource, whereas they framed English as either harmless or enriching to Georgianness. In film language debates, citizens and politicians reflected on the meanings of “international” languages, in contrast with Georgian. The Film Law manifested a hierarchy of social value in which English and Russian were competing codes, iconic of possible future Georgian modernities.  

Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Olin LC 120
Sponsor: Anthropology Program; Dean of the College
Contact: Laura Kunreuther.
E-mail: kunreuth@bard.edu
Phone: 845-758-7215

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