The inerlocutor of 1905.az site is a PhD in history operated as a visiting scholar at Harward University Lala Aliyeva. At the Near and Middle East center of Harward University she worked on the project named “the influence of Islam on national identity”.
– Azerbaijani population. XXI century. Neighbors. Gloablization. There are no connection among these concepts. Let us talk about the “anatomy” of these links.
– With your permission, I would make some amendments to this list. For example, instead of Azerbaijani population, Azerbaijani nation would be correct. Then, I would add the phrase “oil” next to the Karabakh problem, because according to your question I would say that today in Azerbaijan, two primary issues Karabakh and oil are discussed most.
You know, the interpretation of population and nation concepts in the West ethnology differ drammatically from former Soviet and current Russian ethnology. And in the modern world,the Soviet ethnology is not accepted. Western antropologists prove that all nations are the product of XIX-XX centuries and all tribes and peoples existed up to now (this period) have had ethnicity. A state is a factor transforming the ethnos into nation. When there is a state the population becomes a nation. Tadeous Svyatachovski writes that the Azerbaijani nation was born with the establishment of Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918. Modern Azerbaijani Constitution is based on the idea of civil nation specified in the US Consitution. Shortly, our consitution indicates that the source of state is the people and the people are citizens of Azerbaijan Republic. It means that Azerbaijani state belongs to every citizen regardless of ethnicity. The concept of civil nation is a widespread tendency. In the example of the US we saw that inspite of ethnic and even cultural diversity ,a large mass can form a nation and in this case ethnic and religious assimilation does not occur and only various segments forming society are strongly integrated into each other. From the point of geopolitical view, Azerbaijan is surrounded as if by a triangle that was created by Russia, Turkey and Iran.We have been living in this geopolitical zone for years. At times, by using certain factors the aforementioned three states tried to influence us. For example, because most part of Iranian population is Shiite, Iran attempted to affect and Russia did the same due to the ethnic and economic factors( for example, lezgi, talish factor). However, I think that the efforts to split Azerbaijan ethnically are worthless, because we have already been developed as a nation and to destroy Azerbaijan with ethnic separatism is far away from possibility. As for Turkey, I think it always uses the ethnocultural, ethnolinguistic- turkism factors. We can add other points like fraternity ,common language and origin. Of course, we can talk about other state’s impact, but I would not include the Middle East factor to the neighbor category,because after Emir Teymur and Sheybanis, as a historian,I have never seen a considerable impact of the Middle Asia on Azerbaijan in any form.
Globalization. Azerbaijan enters globalization through new technologies.The World affects Azerbaijan via modern technology, media,social networks. Globalization has both positive and negative side-effects. Beside the West, various Islamic trends is penetrating Azerbaijan. There are adverse effects too. The Islam in Azerbaijan is a compatible and non-political one. In other words, it is part of person’s personal life. However, at the present moment, various aggressive islamic trends and political İslam tries to pervade through Azerbaijan. For example, with the very Islam factor, tens of Azerbaijanis join and die in Syria battles. In a globalized world, an agressive İslam, political Islam has a negative impact on Azerbaijan.
– What can you tell about the Armenians’ “services” in Azerbaijanis’ self-perception process?
– It is a good question. It may sound strange,but I can say that Karabkh problem played a positive role in national unity and self-perception process. If possible, we can say “we gained from misfortune”.First of all, at the end of 1980s, national-liberation movement against the background of Karabakh problem increased in Azerbaijan. Also, it unified Azerbaijani population in a fist. And it is a very important issue. Any person be it from Quba, Ganja or Nakhchivan feels the Karabakh problem as her/his own problem and is ready to die for it. There was a saying among Jews before the capture of Jerusalem and establishment of Israel state:” I would forget Jerusalem if I forgot my right hand’. It is very good saying.So if we forget Shusha and Karabakh then we have to forget our right hand. Today, regardless of their ethnicity our youth who have not seen Karabakh is ready to fight for it. Karabakh has been our national value and symbol of unity. It is our nation that betrays itself. However, we are united in Karabakh problem. The Karabakh war showed that we are able to unite in any issue. A place where the nation identifies itself is a pretty essential question. Azerbaijani nation identifies itself within the territory of Karabakh. Look at Russia, it occupied Crimea and it is annexation. And have you ever seen a Ukrainian who is ready to sacrifice for Crimea? No, because Ukrainian population does not identifie itself with Crimea. In the peak times of the processes, Ukraine declared Crimean Tatars as indigenous population of Crimea. Whereas, Russian president Putin in his interview contradicted this idea and claimed that Greeks are the indigenous population of Crimea.So, it is very important to be attentive in the issues where a nation is identified and which land it deems as its own territroy. Sometimes, there is a paradox of propaganda regarding the self-identification of our nation within the Middle East.
– We have so many people and natural resources. We have bestowed so many brilliant personalities to the humanity . Our culture, literature… We had to be more powerfull. May be we are,but there are people who do not believe it. In your opinion,what is the reason for it?
– Thank you for a pretty interesting question.It is true, we are a lot, but we are not strong as we want. As you know, historically, there is such kind of feature peculiar to the post-Soviet countries that educated and intellectual part of the society defines a public opinion here. Only that part is active and tries to go forward and displays its activity in any way.The rest of society act like a spectator to the social life of the country and are engaged only in their domestic affairs. The situation is the same in Russia and Georgia.
These people produce and promote one intellectual and a large mass remains inactive. We follow a group of people who took the lead and we lie all responsibility on them. And unfortunately, the number of intellectuals is very few.Beside the number , the lack of unity among those intellectuals is another problem. It is a pity but I have to confess it. We cannot accept pluralizm and come to the rational common point in the diverse thoughts. Sometimes, I come across in forums and social networks that two people from our blood are at odds with each other.
As for our literature, I want to say something. I was asked very nice and simple question at the Harward University .The question was ,”what is the subject of modern Azerbaijan literature?, what it writes about?” The young writers’ works which I have read recently are full of licentious scenes.It shows that Azerbaijan experiencing a sexucal revolution. The subject of contemporary literature determines future development of and the ideas nurturing the nation. As a matter of fact, our literature does not have a content.The theme of young writers’ works is the same .However, literature is a big weapon.For example, if we take a look at Egypt, we can see that Egypt in the period of Jamal Abdul Nasir in 1960 considerably differs from present Egypt, their values are different.In the last 50 years, we can see the propaganda of religious values against secular society in the Arabic literature . The result is obvious in Egypt now: aggressive religious trends and their struggle against each other left the country under catastrophe. Therefore, the representatives of literature should be careful in their writing,since it has a substantial impact on the cultural development of the nation.
– You have conducted studies .Is it hard to do a research on the other side of the ocean?
– My research subject has been “The influence of Islam on national identitiy”. It is indeed a part of doctor of science dissertation and associated with Azerbaijan’s ethnogenetic problem including the emergence of ethnos, the identification of natioanl identity, Islam’s impact on it and its role in a modern era. It is not difficult to study Azerbaijan on the other side of the ocean, because Harward has a rich library and you just want to stay and sleep there.You can find any book,journal and even an ancient manuscript easily be it online or hard version . Imagine , there are original versions of “Babai-Emir” and “Molla Nasraddin”journals.Even the journals published by Academy of Sciences can be found in this library.However , let us look if Harward’s journals exist in the Academy of Sciences? It is a pity,but in the Harward library you can find and research any data.Unfortunately, most Azerbaijanis have no idea about studies conducted on Azerbaijan. For example, in 1966 Gospel was found in ancient Albanian language and in 2008 the very Gospel was decoded and read.It was found that this language is close to that of udis that live in Nic village of Qabala. This is a considerable discovery.However,in Azerbaijan you cannot find any data in this regard. It is still written in our textbooks of Azerbaijan history that the alphabet of Caucasian Albanian language have not been decoded yet.
-What would you recommend to 1905.az site?
Thank you very much and I wish you good luck.