EXTENDED DEADLINE: Call for Book Chapters: From Multi-ethnic Societies to Homogeneous States: Collective Memory and Fiction on Emergence of Modern Nations, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Victoria Echegaray's picture
Call for Papers
May 30, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Area Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Film and Film History, Literature, Russian or Soviet History / Studies

We invite you to contribute papers to the edited volume From Multi-ethnic Societies to Homogeneous States: Collective Memory and Fiction on Emergence of Modern Nations, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The goal of the book is to examine how fiction, film and public memory in Azerbaijan and Armenia reflect the consequences of the disintegration of the USSR in the South Caucasus, when both ethnically diverse former Soviet republics became independent, ethnically homogeneous nation states. The forthcoming book will examine the first and second Karabakh wars together with the mutual ethnic cleansing involved. Traditionally, Western scholars have portrayed the disintegration of the Soviet Union in a positive way, with the leaders of the nationalist’s movements as champions of democracy and defenders of human rights. However, closer analysis of literature, public memory and films in the South Caucasus from the end of 1980s until today reveals a different picture. Harassment, expulsion, and the ethnic cleansing of minorities (Azeris in Armenia and Armenians in Azerbaijan) cast particular doubt on this rosy view. Through fiction, memoirs and contemporary films, we intend to devote attention to anti-Armenian violence in Azerbaijan and anti–Azeri violence in Armenia: i.e. the anti-Armenians pogroms in Sumgait (February of 1988), the pogroms in Baku (January of 1990), the expulsion of the Azeri population from Armenia (end of 1980s), the first Karabakh War (1992-1994), the Second Karabakh War (September 27 -November 10, 2020), and the ethnic cleansing of Azeri people in Khojaly (February of 1992).  Indeed, the Karabakh conflict has been one of the bloodiest in the former Soviet Union. 

When the Russian literary journal Druzhba Narodov (Friendship of Peoples) published Akram Aylisli’s Stone Dreams (Daș Yuxular/Kamennye Sny) in 2012, it had the effect of an exploding bomb.  The author touched upon very sensitive topics for Azeris, namely, the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan at the end of the 1980s, and the massacre of the Armenian population in Aylis by Turkish troops in 1919. Aylisli was accused of treason and received death threats, but he is far from the first or only writer to have taken on these tragic events. Evgeniy Voyskunskiy, whose novel Maiden Dreams (Devichii Sny) is probably the first comprehensive story of Baku from the beginning of the twentieth century through 1990, when the cosmopolitan city slipped into chaos. His novel includes Azeri, Armenian, Russian, and Jewish characters, representing every group that once lived in the international city. Another significant novel is Seymur Baycan’s Gugark, which concerns the love between Seymour, a young Azeri man, and Annush, a young Armenian woman, who meet at a peace conference in Gugark, a former Soviet pioneer camp. In Photos to Remember Me By, Maria Martirosova, a former Armenian resident of Baku, guides us through her character’s photo album as she tells the story, not of one girl, but of a whole generation. The Armenian author Levon Javakhian’s short story “Kirve” tells of the Armenian Ashot, and his Azeri kirve (god-brother), Hasan, who have a friendship that is no longer possible today, with nationalism at the fore. The Armenian author Gurgen Mahari, a controversial writer among his compatriots, sets his 1966 novel Ayrvogh Aygestanner (Burning Orchards) in the Ottoman city of Van. Depicting the violence committed by the Armenian fedayi (guerillas), the novel was a shock for many in Soviet Armenia, the former USSR, and beyond. Like Stone Dreams, the book was publicly burned on the streets of Yerevan, then later banned under pressure of Armenian authorities, and its author was accused of treason. These are just very few examples of the growing literature on this tragic topic of rapidly growing antagonism and hatred between two neighboring nations.

Fiction is important since literature, presumably, is more widely read than works of historians and political scientists. An average educated reader more likely reads and learn more from works of Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie and Anatoly Kuznetsov than from academic monographs. The proposed edited volume is supposed to underscore the importance of fiction, film, and public memory in dealing with ethnic conflict, as novels and films usually reach a much broader audience.

Films could also be an important source for our topic though we should keep in mind that generally in the former Soviet Union filmmakers still either depend on the financial support of the their states or some private companies unless they are made in the third countries.

Questions to be addressed are, for example:

How literature, films or memoirs reflect the collapse of a multiethnic society(ies)?

What would the fate of a person of multiethnic origin be at the time of such turmoil?

How does fiction reflect and describes this problem?

How does literature reflect relations between members of the titular nationality with those who have become a national minority?

How does one answer a question “who is to blame?” 

How do writers, filmmakers or memoirists envision possible outcome of the Karabakh conflict in their works?

How does fiction, cinema and public memory foresee the future of the Armenia-Azerbaijan relations?


Practical aspects:

The selected contributions will be peer-reviewed, which may lead to full acceptance, acceptance with requested revisions, or non-acceptance. Our editors: Mikail Mamedov, Department of History and School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown University; Ulvi Ismayil, independent historian and political scientist, Fairfax,  Northern Virginia; Peter Orte, Department of Russian language and literature at the University of Hawaii-Manoa; Nona Shahnazarian, the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia and an affiliate the Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg, Russia.


To be considered, please send your work, with an abstract of 300 words and a short biography, no more than one page for peer review to mamedorm@gmail.com by May 30. Preliminary accepted authors should be notified by July 30, 2021. Selected authors will be asked to rewrite, change, and resubmit their papers. The authors are expected to resubmit their final works by the end of September 2021. The volume is expected to be published by Spring or Summer of 2022.   


Your paper should be between 6,000 words (24 pages) and no more than 7,500 words (30 pages). Standard Paper Format

  • Typewritten on 8.5 x 11-inch white paper
  • Double spaced
  • Standard size and style font (Times New Roman 12)
  • Standard margins (margins of 1 inch [top and bottom] and 1 or 1.25 inches on the sides)
  • Numbered pages

The editors will accept 8-12 contributions from among the proposals received.

Contact Info: 

Mikail Mamedov

Contact Email: