The Evolution of National Identity and Nationalism in Azerbaijan (1900-2018)

Guliyeva, Narmin
The de- and re-construction of national identity have been accelerated in Azerbaijan since the fall of the Soviet Union thanks to which Azerbaijan emerged as an independent nation-state. Azerbaijanism has been promulgated to be the main backbone of state official ideology since independence, except for a short time of Turkism. Though a quarter of a century has passed since the elites started formulating the national identity, it is still incomplete and there from time to time emerges questions about the proper designation for the ethnically Turkic people. This problem stems from the troubled past of Azerbaijan. The name and the language of Azerbaijani people were changed five times in a century. There has been a century-long war between the ethnic and civic markers of the national identity. So, this study aims to discuss the historical evolution of national identity and nationalism in Azerbaijan. It attempts to answer how national identity has been defined and nationalism has been discussed under different political regimes and governments up to recent times, with a special reference to language policy and national minority questions. This thesis reveals that in spite of the consolidation of Azerbaijani identity in the society, there is still a misunderstanding related to its “double” meaning: First, it has “civic” meaning functioning as supra-ethnic identity; second, it has “ethnic” meaning, used to designate ethnically dominant Turkic people. This study attempts to clarify this problem through the lens of ethnicity and nationalism theories. It reveals that though all ethnic groups have been integrated under inclusive civic national identity, they will not likely decline their ethnic affiliation. So, it suggests that Azerbaijani identity successfully functions as citizenship identity, but fails in doing so as an ethnic identity. More specifically, Azerbaijani identity is a supplement, not a substitution to original identities; they do not contradict, rather complement each other.


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Citation Formats
N. Guliyeva, “The Evolution of National Identity and Nationalism in Azerbaijan (1900-2018),” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2022.