The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus is proud to present its 2021 Spring Lecture Series.
This year’s series showcases the work of three early-career postdoctoral scholars, comprising specialists from the disciplines of ethnography, soil science, and history. The lectures are free and open to all.
April 28, 2021 at 12pm EDT/11am CDT
Dr. Aimee Dobbs
The American Research Institute of the South Caucasus
“Colonial Governance, Educational Reform, and the Architecture of Identity Among Nineteenth Century Azerbaijani Muslims”
Colonial governance, educational reform, and identity politics shared center stage in post-Crimean War-era South Caucasus (SC). The region’s remarkably intertwined ethnicities, as well as its geopolitical position, obliged Russian state administrators to consider novel approaches to systems’ modernization, particularly regarding the creation of a comprehensive schooling system. Linguistic and cultural considerations, geopolitics, and resource insufficiencies created opportunities and institutions for South Caucasians to partake in educational reform, primarily on imperial terms. For Azerbaijani Muslims, inclusion was a belated and yet transformative step towards joining the “imperial domain.” As some Azerbaijani Muslims began to advocate for educational, social, and cultural reform, the Russian state became a tenuous and coincidental partner. As discursive and institutional spaces offered platforms for voicing concerns and exercising leadership among Azerbaijani Muslims in the newly emerging political rationalities, identity politics in urban centers materialized against a backdrop of fast and uneven market growth, particularly in Baku. The combination of these forces eroded conventional social structures and created spaces for new authorities and sociopolitical institutions that laid the foundations of an identity more associated with ethnicity than religion.