SOAS University of London

Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus

The dialectics of post-Soviet modernity and the changing contours of Islamic discourse in Azerbaijan: Towards a resacralisation of public space?

Murad Ismayilov
Murad Ismayilov (University of Cambridge)

Date: 6 December 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 6 December 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar


This book offers a detailed account of the dynamics behind the religious-secular divide in Azerbaijan over the past two decades of independence and the conditions underlying the ongoing process of normalization of Islamic discourse and the rising cooperation across the country’s secular-religious political landscape and looks into some future dynamics this transformation is set to unleash. It begins with an outline of hybrid intentionality behind the elite’s manifold attitudes to Islam, with particular focus on the strategy of separation between religion and politics in which those attitudes have found expression. It then proceeds to show the complicity of civil society and the broader populace, as well as the international community and the country’s Islamic stratum itself, in the reproduction of the narrative of Islamic danger and the resultant religious-secular divide in post-Soviet Azerbaijan. The study then continues with an account of a number of dialectical tensions inherent in policy outcomes to which the hybrid nature of elite intentionality has given rise. It then follows on to discuss key factors contributing to the ongoing normalization of Islam across the public realm and the gradual bridging of the religious-secular divide amidst the ongoing state repression. The volume concludes with a comparative insight into some common features and conditioning factors behind the dynamics underlying the religious-secular nexus in Azerbaijan and across the broader region of the Middle East. It also offers an insight into some future potentialities that the current dynamics have laid bare.

Speaker Biography

Murad Ismayilov is development expert with a geographic focus on the post-Soviet space (Azerbaijan in particular) and a thematic focus on social stratification and class; public sector reform (particularly education and healthcare); Islam and Islamic activism; nationalism, identity and state-society relations; foreign policy. His broader interests include political and social theory (with focus on critical approaches), the politics of modernity, global politics, global health, postcolonial theory, social movements, sociology and political economy of power, sociology of intellectuals, sociology and security of the Middle East, sociology and political economy of religion, Islamic theology and Islamic political thought, as well as cross-connections between religion (Islam) and science and traditional and functional/holistic medicine. He is currently completing his PhD at the Centre for Development Studies, the University of Cambridge. He also holds an M.St. in International Relations from the University of Cambridge (2009) and an M.A. in International Relations from Baku State University (2004). He earlier served as an OSI AFP Returning Scholar at the Department of International Relations, Baku State University (2006-2009); Editor-in-Chief of Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy’s Azerbaijan in the World online publication (2008-2013), as well as Program Manager for Research and Publications, Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (2009-2011). He has been awarded fellowships and research and visiting scholar grants from Open Society Institute Europe Foundation; Aleksanteri Institute (Finland); Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI); Michigan State University’s Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (CERES); Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (GWU); and NATO Studies Centre (Romania). He is author of The Dialectics of Post-Soviet Modernity and the Changing Contours of Islamic Discourse in Azerbaijan (2018) and co-editor of Turkish-Azerbaijani Relations: One Nation—Two States? (2016) and Identity and Politics in Central Asia and the Caucasus (2015).

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus

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