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Strategical and Tactical Uses of Ethnicity. Insights from the Azerbaijani Question in Iran 29 mars 2012

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Middle East / Moyen Orient.
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Paris Papers (IRSEM) n°5, 2012, 54 p.                                           Français

Gilles Riaux *

This Paris Paper explores the literature on ethnicity in International Relations to present a conceptual framework based on the concepts of strategy and tactics, as defined by Michel de Certeau. The aim is to dismantle the ethnic variable into simpler components to reveal the uses of ethnicity and map practices at different levels. Then this analytical framework is applied to the Iranian case study, a highly multi-ethnic society whose recent history has witnessed a long series of conflicts between the state and ethnic groups. To discard deprivation as a key factor in mobilization, the analysis is focused on the Azerbaijanis, the mostintegrated non-Persian ethnic group in Iran. In strategically using ethnicity to promote national identification, the Iranian state and the Soviet Union have produced an ethnically-based framework in the Iranian society in which ethnic mobilizations can surface. They emerge as a tactical move allowing marginal actors to contest the state, its legitimizing principles, and its policies. The strategic and tactical uses of ethnicity provide new elements for understanding the Iranian polity, its management of diversity, and its centre-peripheries relations.

* Gilles Riaux est chargé d’étude à l’IRSEM

Download paper, Format PDF (1,31 MB)


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