© privat


Altay Goyushov, Dr.

Professor of History

Baku Research Institute

Born in 1965 in Baku
Studied History at Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University (then Azerbaijan State Pedagogical Institute) and Baku State University


Dashed Hopes for Democracy: the History of Post-Soviet Azerbaijan

In 2021, Azerbaijan will celebrate 30 years of independence, which this young nation gained after the fall of the Soviet Union. During these years, Azerbaijan has gone through various transformations and landed somewhere that could not have been imagined in the early years of independent life. Once touted as the first Muslim democracy in the world, Azerbaijan has become the first post-Soviet nation to establish a dynastic family rule. Instead of liberal democracy, a consolidated authoritarian regime has emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union.
What were the internal dynamics and external factors that paved the way to this failure? What should be blamed: the Soviet legacy, Islamic culture and identity politics, corrupt elite and rulers, geography and geopolitics, or a complicated combination of all of the above? The purpose of my project is to try to answer these questions, i.e., to write an account of post-Soviet Azerbaijani history.
Given the current political climate in Azerbaijan and particularly the regime's control of universities, publishing houses, and intellectual activities, it is nearly impossible to publish objective accounts of Azerbaijani history inside the country. While all humanities disciplines are strongly controlled by the state and are used as ideological tools in state propaganda, history is increasingly the most restricted of these fields. It is used as a primary ideological tool in state propaganda, and the government does not tolerate any interpretations of the nation's history other than the official one, which was changed and adapted to the ideological preferences of the ruling Azerbaijani elite after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
However, there is great interest and even demand for an impartial account of events of the last 20 to 30 years in Azerbaijan, especially among the young generation, who have grown up during the last couple of decades. These young people are hungry to read accounts of national history different from the state's version. As a historian well known in the country, I have personally received many letters and messages asking me to write this history. In fact, these requests are among the primary reasons why I decided to embark on this difficult, probably controversial, but greatly needed task.

Recommended Reading

Goyushov, Altay. "Die Beziehungen zwischen Sowjetstaat und Islam im Aserbaidschan der 1920er- und 1930er-Jahre." In Repression, Anpassung, Neuorientierung: Studien zum Islam in der Sowjetunion und dem postsowjetischen Raum, edited by Raoul Motika, Michael Kemper, and Anke von Kügelgen, 17-62. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2013.
-. "Islam and Islamic Education in the Soviet and Independent Azerbaijan." In Islamic Education in the Soviet Union and Its Successor States, edited by Michael Kemper, Stephane Reichmuth, and Raoul Motika, 168-222. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010.
-. "Islamic Revival in Azerbaijan." In Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, vol. 7, edited by Hillel Fradkin, Husain Haqqani, Eric B. Brown, and Hassan Mneimneh, 66-81. Washington DC: Hudson Institute, 2008.

Publications from the Fellows' Library

Goyushov, Altay ( Leiden [u.a.], 2016)

Goyushov, Altay ( Wiesbaden, 2013)
Die Beziehungen zwischen Sowjetstaat und Islam im Aserbaidschan der 1920er- und 1930er-Jahre

Goyushov, Altay ( [Washington, DC], 2008)
Islamic revival in Azerbaijan

Tuesday Colloquium01/14/20