Thursday, 12 August 2010

Empire and Names: The Case of Nagorno Karabakh, Benjamin Foster


The Nagorno Karabakh region in Western Azerbaijan has been
the site of a bloody conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia since
1992. Both nations claim historic ties to the area as independent
kingdoms or as autonomous vassal nations under larger empires. This
paper will survey toponymic patterns in the 20th century of Nagorno
Karabakh, under Soviet and post-Soviet rule. How did toponyms change
in the 20th century? Has toponymic reality followed demographic
reality? How did the Soviet toponymic system differ from previous
imperial or national systems? Lastly, what does Karabakh's toponymic
history in the 20th century have to contribute to the discussion on
the Soviets' treatment of nationalism, and to the discussion on the
ongoing tension over Karabakh? This paper will attempt to answer these
questions by examining past and present maps, policy documents, and
other textual sources to provide a toponymic history of Nagorno
Karabakh. This history will help explain how the current toponymic
landscape of Karabakh came to be, and whether or not toponymic actions
and policies may have contributed to the conflict. By bringing this
aspect of Karabakh's history to light, I hope to show how the toponym,
an important cultural symbol, plays a role in interethnic relations.

Citation: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences
Publisher: York University
Date: 2009
(Click on the map above for the full text PDF from York University, Ontario)

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