Ethnic boundaries and territorial borders: on the place of Lezgin irredentism in the construction of national identity in Azerbaijan

Leyla Sayfutdinova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Lezgin irredentist movement is one of the less-studied national movements in the post-Soviet space, despite affecting the strategically important Russian-Azerbaijani borderlands and the bordering process between the two post-Soviet states. This article aims to fill this gap and to examine the impact of the Lezgin national movement on the development of territorial nationalism in early post-Soviet Azerbaijan. Based on the analysis of media publications in three Azerbaijani newspapers between 1992 and 1996, I argue that the movement contributed to consolidating the territorial vision of the Azerbaijani nation as incorporating groups historically settled in this territory. While media coverage stressed friendship between ethnic Azerbaijanis and Lezgins, the responsibility for secessionist claims was placed on external forces, particularly Russia and Armenia. In the long term, this framing led to the securitization of ethnic minority activism as a major threat to Azerbaijani statehood.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalNationalities Papers
VolumeFirstView
Early online date14 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2021

Keywords

  • Borders
  • Territorial nationalism
  • Irredentism
  • Azerbaijan
  • Lezgins

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