Visiting Senior Researcher, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University, (Formerly Center for Strategic Studies, Baku, Azerbaijan)
ABSTRACT | The Interplay of Narratives, Memory, Identity, and Politics in Peace and Conflict in the South Caucasus
Conflicts in the Caucasus, especially between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh, illustrate how political manipulations of national memory and symbols can contribute to the escalation of conflict between the former “Soviet brothers.” My studies over the two decades have used different perspectives that enable me to examine the interplay between memory, emotions, and attitudes in the context of the ongoing Karabakh conflict. This has involved highlighting the sociocultural and psychological mechanisms underpinning political manipulation of national memory in relation to conflict and reconciliation. I have reported some of these findings in my 2015 book Collective Memory: How Collective Representations about the Past Are Created, Preserved, and Reproduced. A special chapter of this book was devoted to the issue on how memory can be used as a tool for stirring up conflict. In this research I have identified two psychological constructs -“painful collective memory” and “competitive victimhood,” which are often employed by political forces who are not interested in peace and reconciliation in the region. These dynamics have taken on new dimensions in an age of rising nationalism in Russia and surrounding regions.