‘Supra Is Not for Women’: Hospitality Practices as a Lens on Gender and Social Change in Georgia

  • Costanza Curro


This chapter draws on ethnographic fieldwork data and media and film analysis to examine the case of supra (the traditional Georgian feast). Georgian women and men are valued as ‘proper’ people when they embody and perform traditional gender identities and roles, which are then articulated as ‘natural’. Gender divides are epitomized by the rigid structure upon which the supra rests. While women’s contribution to the supra is fundamental to this cultural tradition, the female role envisages a passive presence in a male-dominated event. For this reason, the supra is regarded as a practice from which women are excluded. For this reason, modernization narratives, emerging after Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution began to question and reframe traditional practices as expressions of backwardness serving to hinder or delay the country’s ‘Westernisation’. As a display of masculinity, the supra is contrasted with progressive ideas of gender equality. Costanza Curro’s chapter shows how this process is entwined in the inherent tension between the internalization and exposure of ‘traditional’ gender divides, as well as between the private reproduction and public reappropriation of hospitality practices.


  1. Altman, Yochanan. 2011. “The Georgian Feast: Wine and Food as Embodiment of Networks.” 6th AWBR International Conference Bordeaux Management School, 9–10, June. Bordeaux Management School, Bordeaux, France.Google Scholar
  2. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, Pierre, and Lois Wacquant. 2004. “Symbolic Violence.” In Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology, edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Phillipe Bourgois, 272–774. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Buckley, C. 2005. “Socio-Cultural Correlates of HIV/AIDS in the Southern Caucasus.” In HIV and AIDS in the Caucasus Region: A Socio-Cultural Approach. Paris: UNESCO Culture and Development Section.Google Scholar
  6. Chabashvili, Tamar, and Agnieszka Dudrak. 2014. Sak’utari Supra—A Supra of Her Own.
  7. Chatwin, Mary E. 1997. Socio-Cultural Transformation and Foodways in the Republic of Georgia. Commack, NY: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Chau, Adam Y. 2008. “The Sensorial Production of the Social.” Ethnos 73 (4): 485–504. Scholar
  9. Curro, Costanza. 2012. “National Gender Norms and Transnational Identities: Migration Experiences of Georgian Women in London”. Slovo 24 (2): 114–131.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2014. “A ‘Gift from God’? Georgian Hospitality Between Tradition and Pragmatism.” Hospitality & Society 4 (3): 293–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ———. 2017. From Tradition to Civility: Georgian Hospitality After the Rose Revolution (2003–2012). PhD diss., University College London.Google Scholar
  12. Douglas, Mary. 1987. Constructive Drinking: Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dragadze, Tamara. 1988. Rural Families in Soviet Georgia: A Case Study in Ratcha Province. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Dudwick, Nora. 2004. “No Guests at Our Table: Social Fragmentation in Georgia.” In When Things Fall Apart: Qualitative Studies of Poverty in the Former Soviet Union, edited by Nora Dudwick, Elizabeth Gomart, Aleksandre Marc, and Kathleen Kuehnast, 213–257. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Ekvtimishvili, Nana, and Simon Groß. 2014. In Bloom (Grdzeli nateli dgheebi) [Film]. Big World Pictures.Google Scholar
  16. Frederiksen, Martin D. 2013. Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Frederiksen, Martin D., and Katrine B. Gotfredsen 2017. Georgian Portraits: Essays on the Afterlives of a Revolution. London and Washington, DC: Zero Books.Google Scholar
  18. Gotfredsen, Katrine B. 2014. “Void Pasts and Marginal Presents: On Nostalgia and Obsolete Futures in the Republic of Georgia.” Slavic Review 73 (2): 246–264. Scholar
  19. Gotsiridze, G. 2001. “Vin ebrdzvis kartul supras”? (“Who Is Fighting Against the Georgian Banquet?”). Lit’erat’uruli Sakartvelo: 7.Google Scholar
  20. Gugushvili, Dimitri. 2014. Do the Benefits of Growth Trickle Down to Georgia’s Poor? A Case for a Strong Welfare System. PhD diss., University of Kent.Google Scholar
  21. Kotthoff, Helga. 1995. “The Social Semiotics of Georgian Toast Performances: Oral Genre as Cultural Activity.” Journal of Pragmatics 24 (4): 353–380. Scholar
  22. Landes, Joan. 2003. “Further Thoughts on the Public/Private Distinction.” Journal of Women’s History 15 (2): 28–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lundkvist-Houndoumadi, Margharita. 2010. “Treading on the Fine Line Between Self-Sacrifice and Immorality: Narratives of Emigrated Georgian Women.” Transcience Journal 1 (2): 50–71.Google Scholar
  24. Manning, Paul. 2003. “Socialist Supras and Drinking Democratically: Changing Images of the Georgian Feast and Georgian Society from Socialism to post-Socialism.” PhD diss., Trent University.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 2009. “The Epoch of Magna: Capitalist Brands and Postsocialist Revolutions in Georgia.” Slavic Review 68 (4, Winter): 924–945. Scholar
  26. Mars, Gerald, and Yochanan Altman. 1983. “The Cultural Bases of Soviet Georgia’s Second Economy.” Soviet Studies 35 (4): 546–560. Scholar
  27. ———. 1987. “Alternative Mechanism of Distribution in a Soviet Economy.” In Constructive Drinking: Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology, edited by Mary Douglas, 270–279. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Mühlfried, Florian. 2005. “Banquets, Grant-Eaters and the Red Intelligentsia in Post-Soviet Georgia.” Central Eurasian Studies Review 4 (1, Winter): 16–18.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2006. Postsowjetische Feiern: Das Georgische Bankett im Wandel. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2007. “Sharing the Same Blood: Culture and Cuisine in the Republic of Georgia.” Anthropology of Food 53.
  31. ———. 2014. “A Taste of Mistrust.” Ab Imperio 4: 63–68. Scholar
  32. Nodia, Ghia, ed. 2000. Kartuli supra da samokalako sazogadoeba (The Georgian Banquet and Civic Society). Tbilisi: Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 2014. “The Values of the Georgian Supra: Nationalist or Nativist?” Ab Imperio 4: 69–74. Scholar
  34. Pateman, Carole. 1987. “Feminist Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy.” In Feminism and Equality, edited by Anne Phillips, 103–126. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  35. Polese, Abel. 2010. “The Guest at the Dining Table: Economic Transitions and the Reshaping of Hospitality—Reflections from Batumi and Odessa.” Anthropology of Eastern Europe Review 27 (1): 76–88.Google Scholar
  36. Rekhviashvili, A. 2010. Nationalism and Motherhood in Contemporary Georgia. Master of Arts, Central European University.Google Scholar
  37. Rekhviashvili, Lela. 2015. “Marketization and the Public-Private Divide.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 35 (7–8): 478–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Roberts, Ken, and Gary Pollock. 2009. “New Class Divisions in the New Market Economies: Evidence from the Careers of Young Adults in Post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.” Journal of Youth Studies 12 (5): 579–596. Scholar
  39. Roberts, Ken, Gary Pollock, Sabina Rustamova, Zhala Mammadova, and Jochen Tholend. 2009. “Young Adults’ Family and Housing Life-Stage Transitions During Post-Communist Transition in the South Caucasus.” Journal of Youth Studies 12 (2): 151–166. Scholar
  40. Shatirishvili, Zaza. 2003. “‘Old’ Intelligentsia and ‘New’ Intellectuals: The Georgian Experience.” Eurozine, June 26.
  41. Shelley, Louise, Eric R. Scott, and Anthony Latta, eds. 2007. Organized Crime and Corruption in Georgia. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Slater, Don. 1998. “Public/Private.” In Core Sociological Dichotomies, edited by Chris Jenks, 138–150. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Smith, Adrian, and Alena Rochovská. 2007. “Domesticating Neo-Liberalism: Everyday Lives and the Geographies of Post-Socialist Transformations.” Geoforum 38 (6): 1163–1178. Scholar
  44. Söderlind, Ulrica. 2012. “Georgia’s Food and Drinking Culture in the Eyes of Nik’oloz Pirosmani.” Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research 3 (1): 170–183.Google Scholar
  45. Sumbadze, Nana, and George Tarkhan-Mouravi. 2003. Transition to Adulthood in Georgia: Dynamics of Generational and Gender Roles in Post-Totalitarian Society. Budapest: Policy Documentation Centre, Central European University.
  46. ———. 2006. “Transition to Adulthood in Georgia: Dynamics of Generational and Gender Roles in Post-Totalitarian Society.” In A New Youth? Young People, Generations, and Family Life, edited by Carmen Leccardi and Elisabetta Ruspini, 224–252. London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  47. Swader, Christopher. 2013. The Capitalist Personality: Face-to-Face Sociality and Economic Change in the Post-Communist World. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. T’abat’adze, Sophia, and Ts’uluk’idze, Nadia. 2006. Georgian Table Traditions.
  49. Tolz, Stefan. 2013. Full Speed Westward. Film Documentary. Germany: Cologne Filmproduktion.Google Scholar
  50. Tsitsishvili, Nino. 2006. “‘A Man Can Sing and Play Better Than a Woman’: Singing and Patriarchy at the Georgian Supra Feast.” Ethnomusicology 50 (3, Fall): 452–493.
  51. Tuite, K. 2005. “The Autocrat of the Banquet Table: The Political and Social Significance of the Georgian Supra.” Conference on Language, History and Cultural Identities in the Caucasus, 9–35, IMER, Malmoe University, Sweden, June 17–19.Google Scholar
  52. Vach’ridze, Zaza. 2012. “Two Faces of Nationalism and Efforts to Establish Georgian Identity.” Identity Studies in the Caucasus and the Black Sea Region 4: 82–88.Google Scholar
  53. Weintraub, Jeff. 1997. “The Theory and Politics of the Public/Private Distinction.” In Public and Private in Thought and Practice: Perspectives on a Grand Dichotomy, edited by Jeff Weintraub and Krishan Kumar, 1–40. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Costanza Curro
    • 1
  1. 1.Aleksanteri InstituteHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations