While visiting Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge towards the end of the second Chechen War (1999-2009), what struck me most was the large number of Christian graves that resembled Muslim tombstones. I was also struck by the Georgian inscriptions on Muslim tombstones. The images on these tombstones encapsulate the story of Islam in the Caucasus. My recent book on the history of insurgency in the Caucasus, titled Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus, is concerned with these paradoxes.
Islam, along with Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism, is inseparable from life in the Caucasus. Many strands of Islam intersect in the region, including multiple branches of Sufism and many schools of Sunni and Shia thought.
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Rebecca Ruth Gould is the author of Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. The book won this year's University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies. It also won Best Book by a Woman in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Studies, Association for Women in Slavic Studies. The book also received honorable mentions for the Davis Center Book Prize, awarded by Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and for the Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies awarded by the Association for the Study of Nationalities.