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Abstract

The region that now constitutes the Republic of Azerbaijan has witnessed a lengthy history of conflict between Azeris and ethnic Armenians living in Azerbaijan. This longstanding conflict has had severe consequences for Azerbaijan, and Azeri women have been especially affected as hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes and now live as refugees or as internally displaced persons (IDPs). In this article, I examine Armenian-Azeri ethnic conflict and the plight of Azeri IDP/refugee women both in social historical context and through fieldwork that I have been conducting in Azerbaijan. I first establish the broader sociopolitical context by providing a social historical overview of this ethnic conflict, including the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which began in the late 1980s and which has continued under cease-fire since 1994. I then elaborate the qualitative field research that I have been conducting in Azerbaijan to explore issues related to the forced migration of Azeri women who became displaced as a result of this ethnic conflict. Through compiling narratives and oral histories, I provide Azeri refugee and internally displaced women a “voice” and I capture, through their own thoughts and words, the essence of war and of living in displacement, the essence of the difficult and challenging life experiences that they confront and the ways in which they cope with displacement.

Note on the Author

Mehrangiz Najafizadeh, Ph.D., is a member of the faculty of the Department of Sociology, University of Kansas, where she also is a Core Faculty member in the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Global and International Studies. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Republic of Azerbaijan on gender-related issues including women’s advocacy associations, the plight of IDP/refugee women from the Nagorno-Karabakh War, and gender and the resurgence of religion.

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