Accepted Paper:

Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan and Practicing Limited Citizenship  


Lale Yalcin-Heckmann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and University of Pardubice)

Paper short abstract:

Azerbaijani IDPs carry this status for nearly 20 years; they have limited citizenship rights and struggle through legislations and laws, using appeals and force. They put demands on the government and international bodies, but risk being clients of an authoritarian regime legitimating its existence.

Paper long abstract:

Azerbaijan towards the end of the Soviet Union and immediately after that has been at war with Armenians over the status of the Autonomous Region, Berg Karabagh. As a result, over 500 thousand people became internally displaced after Armenian forces took over the districts where they lived. Some IDPs have had this status for almost 20 years now. They have been excluded from Land Reforms primarily because the laws prescribe that rural residents get privatized land shares in those regions of official settlement and IDPs are expected to receive agrarian land once the occupied territories are recovered. Of course since 1992 many IDPs have taken up economic livelihoods in different parts of the country and/or migrated abroad. When they moved to the capitol Baku however, if they want to be registered as residents of the city, they need to give up their IDP status, which means giving up some entitlements and privileges. This paper looks at how IDPs balance these contradictory demands on their citizenship rights, such that they have to postpone their citizenship rights of owning property legally to an uncertain future. It examines how the IDPs manipulate their own status for putting on demands on the government and international bodies, but at the same time risk being clients of an authoritarian regime, legitimating its existence with the promise of recovering the lost lands. IDPs are both victims and supporters of state policies as they struggle through a jungle of legislations and laws, using appeals as well as force.

Panel W041
Regulating uncertainty: anthropological approaches to spaces of uncertainty in and of law [EN & FR]