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Kist community in the Pankisi Gorge: a Durkheimian study of social change

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2020
Üner, Anıl
The Kist community living in the Pankisi Gorge in the northeast of Georgia migrated to the region two centuries ago from present-day Chechnya. Ethnically they were of Vainakh origin. During the Soviet Union, the Kists preserved an eclectic understanding of Islam, intertwined with paganism, Christianity, and the customary law of the Kists (adat) through Naqhsbandi and Qadiri tariqats. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Chechen Wars, followed by an influx of Chechen refugees into the Pankisi Gorge and an increase in criminal activities, and the direct or indirect interventions of various regional and global actors in the region altogether had multiple effects on the Kist community. This study aims to examine the social change in the community with a Durkheimian approach, which emphasizes the notion change over order.