CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 22:2
In the Benetton-like enthusiasm to draw together and unite all these verydifferent political gestures as different shades of a single phenomenon—“colorrevolutions”—explanation in terms of local causation could be casually discardedin favor of a global narrative, an easily memorable sound bite–sized color coding, arevolutionarybrand,sothateachsubsequentrevolutionappearslikesomefranchisewith a new color (Orange, Lemon, or Purple) or plant (Cedar or Tulip) of the ﬁrstone.Makingthiswaveofrevolutionsseemmoreimpressiveandinevitable,politicalevents known locally under names without colors (e.g., Lebanon’s “independenceuprising”)weretendentiouslyrepackagedandrebrandedwithaplantorcolornamefortheexportmarket.Infact,theveryterm
seemstohaveﬁrstbeenused in a live CNN broadcast, after supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili entered theparliament building carrying roses. Until then, if there was a locally used name,the standard East European term for any bloodless revolution, “velvet revolution”
was used, although the term
swiftly caught onin Georgia, as elsewhere.
But surely this duality of naming, “velvet revolution” or “Rose Revolution,”should not remain external to our interpretation, standing opposed as authenticlocal discourse to inauthentic global discourse, for example. Rather, I argue thatthisdualitypointstoimportantinterpretivetensionsinternaltothereceptionoftheGeorgian revolution as well. Initially, of course, the existence of two names for therevolution points to two different publics for the revolution, the domestic “velvetrevolution” and the export brand “Rose Revolution.” But it is surely important thatthe glossy export brand almost instantly trumped the domestic one both at homeand abroad. Partly this is because the two terms situate the Georgian revolutionwithin very different visions of historical signiﬁcance, one in which it is uniqueand the ﬁrst of its kind, the other in which it is neither. The term
brands the Georgian revolution as being unique (this “branding” being part of the“bourgeois repackaging” of the revolution I discuss below), but at the same timecreates a forward-looking intertextual series of successive color revolutions. Bycontrast, the term
creates an intertextual series that links the eventsof2003tothoseof2001andseparatesbothofthesefromotherbloodyrevolutionsinGeorgia.Repackagedasthe“RoseRevolution,”therevolutionof2003comestohavethe honor of ﬁrst place in the intertexual series of “color revolutions,” rather thanas a late addition to another intertextual series of postsocialist “velvet revolutions.”Atthesametime,thisrebrandingofrevolutionitselfinglossycolorpackagesspeaksto a broader change in revolutionary rhetoric from earlier revolutions, because thiscolor revolution was indeed more colorful than all those that preceded it.