Mapping the mobility of Azerbaijani Soviet engineers: linking West and East?

Leyla Sayfutdinova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on interviews with 33 Soviet-educated engineers in Azerbaijan, this article explores their patterns of mobility within and beyond the Soviet Union during late Soviet period (1970s–1980s). Within the Soviet Union, engineers from Azerbaijan traveled to Moscow and Leningrad to study and become familiarized with new technologies and to less developed parts of Soviet Union, notably Central Asia, to transfer their knowledge and experience. While mobility within the Soviet Union was common and widespread, Azerbaijani engineers’ access to foreign countries was limited and mediated by central authorities in Moscow. Nevertheless, similar differentiation of sites of mobility applied: engineers traveled to advanced capitalist countries (the West) for new technologies and developing countries (the East) to transfer their knowledge. Thus, mobility, both within and beyond the Soviet Union, was patterned according to a three-tier developmental hierarchy, where West roughly corresponded to development and East to backwardness. Azerbaijan’s location in this perceived hierarchy was situated between advanced capitalist countries and the core of the Soviet Union on the one hand, and the less developed parts of the Soviet Union and developing countries of the Third World on the other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316
Number of pages330
JournalLabor History
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018


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