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The Post-Soviet Wars

Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus

Christoph Zurcher

Publication Year: 2007

The Post-Soviet Wars is a comparative account of the organized violence in the Caucusus region, looking at four key areas: Chechnya, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Dagestan. Zürcher’s goal is to understand the origin and nature of the violence in these regions, the response and suppression from the post-Soviet regime and the resulting outcomes, all with an eye toward understanding why some conflicts turned violent, whereas others not. Notably, in Dagestan actual violent conflict has not erupted, an exception of political stability for the region. The book provides a brief history of the region, particularly the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting changes that took place in the wake of this toppling. Zürcher carefully looks at the conditions within each region — economic, ethnic, religious, and political — to make sense of why some turned to violent conflict and some did not and what the future of the region might portend.

This important volume provides both an overview of the region that is both up-to-date and comprehensive as well as an accessible understanding of the current scholarship on mobilization and violence.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

This book examines the causes of internal wars in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. Between 1988 and 1997, there were seven internal wars on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Five of them are examined in this book: the war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis...

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1. Introduction: War and Peace in the Caucasus

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pp. 1-10

This book is about war and peace in the Caucasus. It is not the first written on this topic, but it is not yet another variation of a theme popularized by Russian writers of the 19th century. Many writers and scholars—then and now—depict the Caucasus as caught in a...

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2. Setting the Stage: The Past, the Nation, and the State

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pp. 11-41

This chapter describes the stage on which the drama of the Caucasian wars took place.2 The focus is on two concepts that are crucial for an understanding of events: the “nation” and the “state.” Most of the collective action described in this book, and almost all the discourse...

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3. Making Sense: Conflict Theory and the Caucasus

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pp. 42-69

In this book conflict is understood as a process in which two or more parties attempt to pursue their interests, which are perceived as mutually incompatible, by directly or indirectly seeking to reduce the other party’s capacity to achieve its goals. Conflict is thus competition...

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4. Wars over Chechnya

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pp. 70-114

In 1991, Chechnya unilaterally declared its independence from Russia. Since then, Russia has waged two wars, 1994–1996 and 1999 to the present day, in an attempt to secure control over the secessionist republic. The wars in Chechnya have been by far the bloodiest of all the...

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5. Wars in Georgia

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pp. 115-151

In the bygone Soviet space, Georgia was without doubt the land of plenty and wonder. Located just south on the impressive mountain chains of the high Caucasus, every year hundreds of thousands of Soviet tourists visited its resorts on the Black Sea, relaxed on its beaches, and...

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6. The War over Karabakh

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pp. 152-185

In October 1987, the regional administration of the small Azerbaijani town of Chadakhly took the decision to transfer some land from one kolkhoz (collective farm) to a neighboring one; the former kolkhoz was administered by Armenians, the latter by Azeris. When the Armenian...

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7. Wars That Did Not Happen: Dagestan and Ajaria

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pp. 186-208

Conducting empirically rich case studies of internal wars is one way to enhance knowledge about factors, policies, and institutional settings that explain why and how conflicts spin out of their social embedding and become organized violence. Another way is to conduct...

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8. Conclusion: Post-Soviet Wars and Theories of Internal Wars

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pp. 209-230

Scholars of internal wars are not only interested in identifying causal links between structural factors, processes, and the occurrence of wars. They are also interested in constructing a general and plausible “script” of organized violence—that is, a metanarrative that integrates different...


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pp. 231-245


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pp. 247-262


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pp. 263-287

About the Author

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p. 289

E-ISBN-13: 9780814797440
E-ISBN-10: 081479744X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814797099
Print-ISBN-10: 0814797091

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 194374022
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Post-Soviet Wars

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Caucasus -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ethnic conflict -- Caucasus -- Case studies.
  • Political violence -- Caucasus -- Case studies.
  • Caucasus -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
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