Muslim cemetery in the village of Balikli (presently Zorakert) in northwestern Armenian. Via
Muslim cemetery in the village of Balikli (presently Zorakert) in northwestern Armenian. Via

The essay by Sergey Rumyantsev and Sevil Huseynova, titled “The Most and the Least International: The City and the Countryside in Azerbaijan and Armenia from the Early 1960s to January 1990,” was recentlypublished in Europe-Asia Studies journal (Vol. 70, No. 6, for August 2018).

Originally from Baku, Rumyantsev and Huseynova have in recent years been based at Humboldt University in Berlin. Their latest work “examines the effects of Soviet nationalities policy on Armenians living in Baku, the capital of the Azerbaijani SSR, and on ethnic Azerbaijanis in Kyzyl-Shafag, an Azerbaijani village in the Armenian SSR.”

“A series of interviews were conducted with members of these two communities to explore some of the results of Soviet nationalities policy. Although the residents of Baku emphasised the multinational character of the city, they nevertheless conceded that ethnicity played an important role in their lives, even at the level of everyday practices. The same also applies for the Azerbaijanis in the far less cosmopolitan Armenian countryside, where ethnic boundaries remained largely impenetrable.”

The paper concluded that “Azerbaijanis and Armenians who lived outside the national homes that had been strictly demarcated in the 1920s did not form any organised collective movements. Lacking the discursive resources to put forward counter-arguments in the dispute with ethno-nationalists, they did not attempt to assert their right to life and citizenship in those republics where perestroika found them.

“Operating within the Soviet discourse of the mandatory territorialisation of nations, they remained convinced that their ‘real’ national home was another republic.”