Widowhood is an under-recognized, albeit significant, aspect of life all over the world. The scant literature on contemporary narratives of widowhood among women as a consequence of conflicts indicates that this aspect of lived experience is relatively underexplored. Although loss is integral to life in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus, it has been overlooked because of the unsettled politics in the region. Since the end of the full-scale war in 1994, the self-declared, internationally unrecognized republic has been locked in a protracted conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This longstanding conflict has had severe consequences for society in this region. Sporadic clashes along the border of Nagorno-Karabakh are not a rare occurrence. Thus, for women married to soldiers, confronting death is not something rare in the everyday life of the region. The purpose of this article is to examine the everyday experiences, understanding and reworking of widowhood there. The article is intended to open up the hitherto neglected subject of widowhood as affected by violent fighting in this part of the world and to create awareness of the importance of the topic.

Author Biography

Nona Shahnazarian is a social anthropologist who is a Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia. She is also affiliated with the Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2017, she was a Visiting Carnegie Fellow at the University of Stanford. She has published extensively on the issues of gender, war, migration, memory and Diaspora in the Caucasus, including a monograph in Russian In the Tight Embrace of Tradition: War and Patriarchy (2011).

Ulrike Ziemer is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Winchester. Prior to this, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Migration and Diasporic Citizenship at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL. Her publications include numerous journal articles and book chapters on Armenians and gender issues, as well as a monograph Ethnic Belonging, Gender and Cultural Practices: Youth Identities in Contemporary Russia (2011) and an edited volume East European Diasporas, Migration and Cosmopolitanism (2012).