New visiting professorship on Georgia for Leiden
Leiden University is to have a visiting professorship in Georgian Languages, Cultures and Society. The official kick-off, organised in collaboration with the Georgian Embassy, will be held on Friday 23 March. One of the dignitaries present will be Sandra Roelofs, first lady of Georgia, who will be a member of the board of the professorship.
Each autumn the Tbilisi State University in Georgia will appoint a lecturer who will come to Leiden for a period of several months to teach and give public lectures. The first visiting lecturer will be linguist Ramaz Kurdadze, who will give a mini-lecture for the guests on 23 March.
Prof. Jos Schaeken of the Leiden department of Russian Studies: ‘Georgia is politically, linguistically, culturally and in terms of religion an enormously interesting country on the border between Asia and Europe, in the strategically placed Caucasus. For us such a visiting professorship is a way of allowing students from different disciplines to get to know the region. Georgia has many different languages and dialects, and many of these are completely unrelated. These languages are not taught at any Dutch universities. In Leiden we teach a wide range of languages, but we, too, are without the resources to appoint permanent staff for this type of programme.'
For Georgia, this first international chair is a means of putting the country on the map. Schaeken: ‘Internationalisation is crucial for Georgia. The country used to be a Soviet republic, but today, it is focusing attention primarily on Europe and the US. The visiting professor will also give lectures for Georgians who live in the Netherlands.'
A student exchange programme is also attached to the visiting professorship. Leiden University is reserving a subsidy from the Leiden University Excellence Scholarship Programme (LExS) for a student from Tbilisi. Schaeken: ‘We have just returned from a visit to Tbilisi to select the first student. She will take a master's in English Literature here in Leiden. A Leiden student of linguistcs is already in Tbilisi, studying the Georgian language, among other subjects.'
The official name of the chair is the Ivane Javakhishvili Visiting Chair in Georgian Languages, Culture and Society, named after the man who was the founding father of the Tbilisi State University.
Although the festivities surrounding the start of the visiting professorship on 23rd March are by invitation only, the public are welcome to participate in the Festival Iberia that will take place in Leiden from 23-25 March. Iberia is a former name for Georgia.
Launch of visiting professorship on Georgia (in Dutch)