Degree: Ph.D., Indiana University, 1986
Dissertation: "Influence of Cinema on Literature"
Specialties/Research interests: 19th and 20th century Russian and Georgia literature; Russian, Soviet, and Georgian cinema; Georgian language and culture
Current project(s): Teaching materials for Georgian language and culture
Courses regularly taught: Russian/Soviet cinema; 19th and 20th century Russian literature; Georgian language and culture
Office telephone: 812-855-3046
e-mail username: kiziria
Professor Dodona Kiziria is known for her rare combination of extraordinary talents and unique abilities, which distinguish
her from all of the other members of our Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She has demonstrated her outstanding talents
in her teaching and lecturing, her work on the Georgian language (her native language), and in the fields of Russian and East European
literature and cinema. Each of these fields represents an important aspect of our colleague Dodona Kiziria, who is now retiring
after a productive career as student, lecturer, and professor in the IU Slavic department.
Dodona’s teaching has to be experienced to be believed. I thought I knew about it after reading dozens of testimonials from
students and others as part of the process of compiling her tenure dossier, back in the 1980s. I knew that she was well-known for
her teaching skills at Indiana University, and that she had won the prestigious Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award in 1985, for
which a plaque is on permanent display at the IMU. Yet I had not experienced her teaching for myself, until I attended a lecture she
gave on her native Georgia, during one of the lectures in our Summer Workshop in Slavic, East European, and Central Asian Languages.
Dodona Kiziria held the audience spellbound for the entire period. And she finished the lecture with the unexpected, yet dramatically
appropriate gesture of pouring a glass of wine and toasting the audience. I suddenly realized that I had been a witness to a truly remarkable
presentation, and it became clear that Dodona’s fame as a lecturer was not just due to her vast knowledge of certain subjects, such as
Georgia. Rather, it seemed to be a matter of an innate talent in the timing of words and actions, to hold the listeners captivated, much
as an accomplished stage actress might. Her file overflows with letters from students who sincerely tell us how Dodona’s teaching has
changed their lives and given them a new perspective on learning. She has fulfilled her teaching mission in such an indelible and
unforgettable way that our department will always take pride in this accomplishment. Her uniqueness in the field of teaching is so
legendary that many students have been flocking to her classes in this, the year of her retirement, in order to experience her teaching
at least once.
The field of Georgian is another major pillar of Dodona Kiziria’s knowledge and persona. The author of Georgian grammars and
textbooks, as well as an important Georgian-language poet in her own right, Dodona has single-handedly put our department on the map in
this field as well. Her renown in the Georgian field extends far beyond IU, however, and she has set up or worked on Georgian-related
programs for the U.S. State Department, Yale University, and Duke University, to name just a few. Although her Russian literature and
cinema courses rarely permit her to offer Georgian during the fall and spring semesters at IU, she has regularly taught the Georgian
language in our Summer Workshop, aided by her brother and niece, who specially fly to Bloomington to perform this important task.
Since the status of Georgian evolved from a language of just one Soviet republic to a critical language of an independent state,
its international importance has risen dramatically, and now the Georgian language is a mainstay of our summer offerings. This must
be a great source of pride to Dodona, since she has long served as unofficial ambassador and interpreter of things Georgian. Anyone
in our department would immediately think of her culinary abilities in the preparation of the famous Georgian cheese bread khachapuri,
which Dodona often contributes to departmental receptions, where it always has the distinction of being the most eagerly awaited dish,
and the first to be devoured by its many faculty and student devotees.
In addition to Dodona’s vast storehouse of skills in teaching the Georgian language and representing its culture among us, mention
should be made of her distinction as a Georgian poet. Legend has it that one of our colleagues once dropped the name of Dodona Kiziria
in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and was immediately treated to an impromptu recitation of her poetry. Another colleague reports seeing a
full-page Tbilisi newspaper article on Georgian poets, with Dodona Kiziria’s portrait in the key central position on the page.
Dodona’s eminent skills as a film specialist are yet a third major area deserving of recognition. Holder of a diploma from the
All-Union Institute of Cinematography of the U.S.S.R. and author of an IU dissertation on film, Dodona has combined cinematic expertise
with her outstanding teaching skills. Small wonder that her film courses on both Russian and East European film have been a mainstay of
the Slavic department and the Russian and East European Institute over the years. When we think of her rare teaching ability, her deep
knowledge of Georgian, and her film expertise, we can only come to one inevitable conclusion: Dodona Kiziria will long be remembered as
a remarkable member of our department, whose unique talents will never be duplicated. We wish her the best of good fortune in retirement
and would like to offer her a toast as heartfelt as the one she used to close her lecture:
Me minda davlio sadgerdzelo chveni dzvirpasi Dodonasi, romelsac chven dges pativs vscemt. Dodonas gaumarjos! Idgerdzelos da ibednieros
chvenma dzvirfasma kolegam Dodonam, Dodona, sul kargad da janmrtelad gveq’olet!
I want to drink a toast to our dear Dodona, whom we are honoring today. May Dodona be victorious! May our dear colleague Dodona live
long and be happy. Dodona, be well and healthy!
Professor Dodona Kiziria teaches Beginning Georgian at SWSEEL (Summer Workshop in Slavic, East European and
Central Asian Languages) Indiana University. She is also a full-time professor at IU, where she has been teaching
since the 1970s. Her courses include Russian and Soviet Film, Central European Cinema, and courses on Russian literature
and Georgian language.
During SWSEEL, Professor Kiziria presented lectures on "The New Georgia" and also on Russian and East European film.
In her native country of Georgia, Professor Kiziria is known for the poems that she has published in her native language.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Eurasian Politician - Issue 1 (May 21st, 2000)
By Professor Dodona Kiziria:
The US and Human Rights in Georgia
The collapse of the Soviet system and the on going process of
globalization of the world economy have created a paradoxical situation
concerning human rights in the republics of the former Soviet Union. In the
countries of the former Soviet Republics human rights are abused on a larger
scale and with greater impunity than at any time since the end of the so-called
Stalin era. Individuals and whole ethnic communities whose rights are being
abused have less and less hope for any justice or even moral support from
Human rights organizations are becoming increasingly ineffective in
their attempts to influence public opinion or government policies concerning
human rights. The West and the United States, who until a short time ago were seen
as the harbingers of human rights and democracy in the world, are becoming more
and more tolerant towards the unprecedented abuses of human rights in the newly
There are three major factors contributing to this regrettable decline
of a movement that occupied a prominent place on the agenda of many
international political organizations, social groups, and even government
A. During the last decade it has become increasingly obvious that
presence or absence of atomic power in possession of any given government
determines the degree of indignation that the Western powers are ready to
express over human rights abuses by this government. The Western alliance and
the US did not hesitate long to use military force in order to stop the Serbian
atrocities in Kosovo. However, they do not want to go beyond feeble protests to
the Putin government, which is conducting a virtual genocide of the Chechen
nation, and using most barbaric methods to achieve its goal. The Western
leniency towards Moscow is having extremely negative consequences that are
affecting the problem of human rights. The actions of the West have discredited
their good intentions and turned their claims in the name of human rights into
hypocrisy. These double standards are provoking more and more countries to
become atomic powers in order to forestall any military interference in their
internal affairs on the part of existing or possible future alliances. Iraq,
Iran, China, India, and Pakistan are intensifying their efforts to become
full-fledged atomic powers, and thus render themselves immune to any outside
interference into their internal affairs.
B. It has become increasingly obvious that the economic interests of
the Western powers supersede moral or humanitarian concerns. The Western
alliance and the US used military force to liberate Kuwait in the name of
freedom and justice, but are conducting business as usual with Russia and China
at a time when human rights abuses have reached staggering proportions in both
of these countries. The supremacy of economic interests in determining the
foreign policy of the Western powers has many deplorable consequences. The
governments of many smaller countries that are not blessed by fate with rich
oil fields, are trying to gain the support of the West by offering every
possible economic incentive to Western investors; they are turning their
territories into an unrestricted market for imported goods or into a source of
raw materials without regard for the disastrous ecological consequences and the
depletion of natural resources. This too has an adverse effect on human rights
since it is corrupt governments and the Mafia who benefit from such deals,
while the majority of the people live in abject poverty, often unable to enjoy
even the absolute minimum of civil rights. Another bait, smaller countries use
to make themselves attractive to great powers, is their geopolitical
Thus, Armenia, in exchange
for Russia's military aid, has turned almost its entire territory into Russian
military base. As an afterthought, I would like to add that the economic factor
seems to be a much more compelling factor in determining the policy of the
Western alliance and the US. Russia's nuclear arsenal was not created after the
dissolution of the USSR, it has been building up for the last forty years.
However, its presence did not deter the West from speaking up in defense of
human rights in the republics of the former Soviet Union in the past.
C. Economic interests are inseparable from the strategic concerns of
superpowers or powers aspiring to become such. Russia and the United States
offer their support to smaller countries, albeit with a heavy price tag
attached. And governments willing to pay such price, enjoy full immunity from
any responsibility for human rights abuses in their countries. Georgia provides
an excellent illustration. In pursuit of its economic and strategic interests,
the US chose Shevardnadze just as it had chosen Shah Reza Pahlavi in Iran,
President Marcos in the Philippines, and just as it made its choices in
Vietnam, Guatemala and El Salvador. And, having made its choice, it sees no
evil, hears no evil, speaks no evil about its protegees.
The US administration
continues to turn a blind eye to abuses of power by the Georgian government,
abuses of human rights throughout the country, torture and atrocities in
prisons, discrimination against persons known to be in opposition to the
present government or suspected to be sympathizers of the late President
Political prisoners who have
suffered physical pain and humiliation, who have been serving long prison terms
under unbearable conditions are declared to be hardened criminals. In this
regard, the cases of Dokvadze, Gelbakhiani and numerous others have been well
documented by various international human rights organizations, but Washington
prefers to ignore them. With depressing regularity the US administration keeps
praising Shevardnadze, awarding him all sorts of medals, especially at times
when his popularity in Georgia plunges dangerously low.
A significant number of Georgians live abroad against their will for
fear of imprisonment on charges of being Zviadists.
The US government twice denied an entry visa to Konstantine
Gamsakhurdia, whose only "crime" is being a son of President
Last year in the annual report released on its web site the State
Department of the US listed Georgia among the countries sponsoring terrorism,
and named supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia as the worst offenders. Moreover, in
violation of the democratic principle of "innocent until proven
guilty", an individual who is still under investigation on terrorist
charges is cited as a terrorist. Ironically, according to numerous statements
by President Shevardnadze himself, at least three supposed terrorist actions
against him were planned or carried out by persons who were once close to him
and even served as members of his government.
- The US and other Western observers, with the exception of the
Helsinki Human Rights Organization, declared the parliamentary elections last
October to be just and democratic in spite of unprecedented abuses in favor of
the ruling Citizens Party and clearly biased election laws adopted by the
Georgian government. Echoing official reports of the Georgian government they
emphasized voting irregularities in Adjaria, but never mentioned that the
candidates of the Agordzineba party were beaten, prevented from entering the
building they had rented, and had their cars blocked in order to deny them
access to their electorate. Moreover, the election video advertisements of the
Citizens party portrayed the representatives of the Agordzineba as a
"Muslim threat", a "dark force" which would destroy
Georgia. President Shevardnadze was officially blessed as the "only
hope" for Georgia in Svetitskhoveli, the largest cathedral of the country.
Fuelling ethnic and religious hatred, these actions violated the Constitution
of the country.
These are just a few examples of the US policy towards human rights
abuses in Georgia. In view of the above-mentioned developments in the
post-Soviet world, human rights organizations face particularly difficult
challenges in carrying out their mission. Unless international human rights
organizations develop new strategies and find new, more effective methods the
very concept of human rights may become an obsolete and romantic indulgence of
the century that is nearing its close.
The Author: Dodona Kiziria is professor of literature and movie research
in the University of Indiana, US. She is Georgian by birth and an expert of
the development of post-Soviet Georgia.