Forging the Azerbaijani National Identity:  The Role of Periodical Literature during the Colonial Period

Proceedings of The 8th International Conference on Social Sciences Humanities and Education

Year: 2023



Forging the Azerbaijani National Identity:  The Role of Periodical Literature during the Colonial Period

Isgandarova Nigar Valish



This study aims to articulate the historical background of nation building in Azerbaijan that laid the foundation for the subsequent formation of national identity at the turn of XIX-XX centuries, and its outreach through literary and publicist texts. The Azerbaijan periodicals played a vital role in unraveling the essence of the Azerbaijan Turkic identity, stimulating the development of self-awareness both of the individuals, and the ethnic community as a whole through a modus of national identity.  I argue that the colonial expansion of the Russian Empire in the region in the early 19th century interrupted the processes of political unification of the country and the processes of ethnic consolidation of the Azerbaijani Turks preceding their formation as a distinctive nation. To address these concerns, the research embarks on a comprehensive examination of the periodical literature having enrolled in the enlightenment of the people, revealing the realities of political, social and cultural character in the country and abroad. My basic claim is that the producer and driving force of nation building and forging national identity was the European-educated Azerbaijani intelligentsia, developed by the Russian government itself for the needs of colonial administration of the region. The study will encompass a hard mission of the Azerbaijani intellectuals in shaping public discourse, establishing early periodicals serving as platforms to express intentional and subconscious manifestations of the authors’ creativity, and respond to the internal and external challenges.

In the paper, varieties of narratives, intertwined into cultural and political texts, are proposed. Essays, short stories, critical and satiric articles, theater reviews have been structured around the issues of  the establishment of a common language, high culture, administration and education, as well as a national identity, capable of suppressing regional differences or, in extreme cases, tolerate them in a subordinate status.

keywords: ccultural; language; national; periodicals; self-awareness