Memory and Production of Ethnic Otherness among Internal Displaced People in Azerbaijan
AbstractDrawing on ethnographic research conducted among Internally Displaced Persons in the Republic of Azerbaijan, this paper explores the representations of enmity among survivors of violence and displacement, and the emergence of a mythologized and depersonalized other. It documents a primordialistic vision of ethnicity – promoted in the past by Soviet political and academic rhetoric – and the strategic use of memory and history. Parallel, it considers epistemological and ethical questions raised by ethnographic representation of victims of conflict and violence, in a context of ethno-nationalistmobilization, thus revealing a seductive and didactic character in the accounts offered by the informers. A problematization of ethnographic description of mass violence and memory of extreme events is pursued further by taking into account discrepancies between public and private discourses on conflict and the other. Finally, it argues for an analysis of collective memory of violence that privileges its strategic uses and individual representations over shared and collective perceptions of history.