Azerbaijan: A Quest for Identity Under Soviet Rule, 1920-1991
Soviet rule in Azerbaijan was one of the most important periods in the formation of Azerbaijani national identity. After the occupation of the short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920) and the establishment of Soviet Azerbaijan, the Soviet regime began to construct a new nationalism and national identity which would characterize Azerbaijan not only in the Soviet period but also in the post-Soviet era of independence. By covering the whole Soviet period (1920-1991), I will demonstrate the mutability of Soviet Azerbaijani nationalities policy and its relationship to changes in leadership and policy at the highest, All-Union, level. I will explore how far these policies were top-down, directed from Moscow, and how far the brainchild of the Azerbaijani Republican leadership was. I will look into the relationship between political and intellectual-cultural elites in the formation of nationalities policy, shedding light on the degree to which these were purely political projects, and how far they were informed (and embraced) by intellectuals, academics, and artists. As far as my sources allow me, I will look at the means of communication of these policies (through education, cultural programmers, media, etc.) and their reception by the Azerbaijani population. In this study, I will use published and unpublished archival material sources from former Soviet archives in Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation.