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Elene Kekelia


Research Interests: Comparative-historical sociology. Memory studies. The sociology of exile/forced migration

Elene Kekelia is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Virginia, Department of Sociology. Her dissertation is engaging with comparative-historical sociology, memory studies and the sociology of exile. In her research, she focuses on and contributes to the understanding of exile as a comparative historical sociologist. Acknowledging the importance of social theory in migratory studies, she argues that forced migration should not be studied solely as a demographic process but as a cultural one. Thus, she looks at the experience of exile in history through the lenses of memory studies by combining it with the literature of forced migration.

She is particularly interested in the third wave of memory studies, transnational memory and migrant memories. For her dissertation she compared the Georgian, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani exiled communities that fled the Soviet occupation around 1920s, titled: “The Imaginaries and Claims of 20th Century Forced Migrants: A Comparative Study of the Georgian, Ukrainian and Azerbaijani Exiles”. Previously, Elene has worked on the Soviet Georgian sites of memory (including the conflicted memory around Stalin, Pantheons and Soviet art). Elene received a Ph.D. degree in 2019 from the Ilia State University in Cultural Studies after defending her dissertation on “The 20th century monuments and national narratives in Georgia”. Elene has received several fellowship awards and has been a member of various scholarly communities.