Reviews

Contrasting usefully with the literature devoted to ethnic relations in Iran, the paper casts a light on Azerbaijani identity under the Islamic Republic.  The author argues a greater ethnic identification in Iranian Azerbaijan.  This process is rooted in Azerbaijani long-term grievances towards the Pahlavi regime’s assimilation policy that appeared during the Islamic Revolution, when Azerbaijanis, among other demands, asked for a better acknowledgement of their ethnic specificities.  The paper provides interesting elements about the revolutionary process in Tabriz and Ayatollah Shari‘at-Madari’s opposition to Ayatollah Khomeini’s velayat-e faqih in the first years of the Islamic Republic.  Then the impact of the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan is analysed, through its contribution to the fostering of an endogenous cultural revival in Iranian Azerbaijan.  Through literary journals, books or associations, ethnic entrepreneurs have instigated a growing interest in Azerbaijani culture among the population, and a lessening forbearance to recurring sneering stereotypes about Iranian Turks.  These were the first steps before a more political activity asking for a better acknowledgement of Azerbaijan specificities by the central government.  In 1993, it has taken the decision to split the Eastern Azerbaijan province in two parts: the Ardebil province and a reduced East Azerbaijani province, with its centre in Tabriz.  The naming of the two provinces was the subject of intense debates, well described in the article.  In the end, the author assumes that the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the ethnic revival in Iranian Azerbaijan have been leading to a regeneration of ties between Azebaijanis from both countries.  The paper is a useful contribution in the study of regional issues in Iran.  It has the great advantage of casting light on recent ethnic mobilisations taking place in the regions.  However, the main sources used in the book have been gathered in the Republic of Azerbaijan, not in Iran.  Therefore Brenda Shaffer’s argument is biased by relying too much on Soviet Azerbaijani academic circles, and does not take into account the huge social and cultural transformations that have taken place in Iran for thirty years.

Gilles Riaux, French Institute of Research in Iran, Tehran
CER: I-3.3.A-230