Borders and Brethren

From Belfer Center Studies in International Security

Borders and Brethren

Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity

By Brenda Shaffer





The Azerbaijani people have been divided between Iran and the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan for more than 150 years, yet they have retained their ethnic identity. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an independent Azerbaijan have only served to reinforce their collective identity. In Borders and Brethren, Brenda Shaffer examines trends in Azerbaijani collective identity from the period of the Islamic Revolution in Iran through the Soviet breakup and the beginnings of the Republic of Azerbaijan (1979-2000). Challenging the mainstream view in contemporary Iranian studies, Shaffer argues that a distinctive Azerbaijani identity exists in Iran and that Azerbaijani ethnicity must be a part of studies of Iranian society and assessments of regime stability in Iran. She analyzes how Azerbaijanis have maintained their identity and how that identity has assumed different forms in the former Soviet Union and Iran. In addition to contributing to the study of ethnic identity, the book reveals the dilemmas of ethnic politics in Iran.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262194778 268 pp. | 6.25 in x 9.25 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262692779 268 pp. | 6.25 in x 9.25 in


  • One of the few works that looks seriously at Iranian Azerbaijan, Shaffer's book is a major contribution to the history of both Iranian and Soviet nationality policies.

    Ronald Grigor Suny

    Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

  • A very comprehensive and interesting intellectual endeavor that will interest specialists on identity, the Middle East, and post-Soviet studies, as well as the citizens of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

    Hamlet Isaxanli

    President and Founder of Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan