Jones Chronicles Modern History of Georgia

After its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, the nation of Georgia has suffered a number of setbacks on its journey toward democracy.

The challenges over the last two decades have ranged from the economic to the political. Problems like widespread tax evasion, crippling inflation, ethnic conflict, and civil war have until recently kept the country from moving past its post-Soviet state of disarray.

Georgia’s fortunes, however, may finally be turning.

Stephen Jones, professor of Russian studies at Mount Holyoke College, said the peaceful transfer of power that occurred after the Oct. 1 parliamentary elections may be a watershed moment for the government in Tbilisi.

“It looks like (Georgia) has reached a level of democratic development that is acceptable to the international community,” Jones said.

Jones, who teaches courses on new democracies and national identity at the College, is the author of a new text that outlines the modern history of the small, mountainous country. Published by I.B. Tauris, the book is titled “Georgia: A Political History Since Independence.”

According to Jones, what differentiates his scholarship from that of others is that he focuses on domestic issues, such as the creation of institutions and the government’s response to issues like crime and economic development.

“We don’t have much analytical material, particularly on Georgia’s domestic situation,” Jones said, adding that those concerns are the ones that “connect very strongly to what the West wants to know about Georgia, or should know about Georgia.”