Provincial Concerns.

A Political History of the Iranian Province of Azerbaijan, 1848-1906

Availability: Out of stock
Published: 2006
Page #: xvi + 356
Size: 6x9
ISBN: 1-56859-189-6
bibliography, index, notes

Quick Overview

The landscape of Azerbaijan, both its physical and human geography, provides an essential backdrop to any historical presentation of the political and social events that occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century. That is why I begin with an overview of those in the first chapter. Many of the events that occurred in Azerbaijan during the first half of the nineteenth century have received a certain amount of attention from historians already, especially the first three decades when the two wars with Russia for control of the Caucasus occurred. I have therefore chosen to provide an overview of that period in chapter two in order to set the stage for the main story. It was in those early years that Azerbaijan’s political, economic, and military importance within Iran was established and that several themes in government were initiated that would continue throughout the rest of the century.
The main focus of the work comes in chapter three, which covers Naser od-Din Mirza’s short governorship in 1848 and roughly the first decade of his reign as shah up to 1861. His uncles who were dispatched from Tehran to govern the province faced stout opposition from local officials for control over affairs. It was a time spent searching for equilibrium, which was finally achieved just before Mozaffar od-Din Mirza was made governor. The first two decades of his governorship is the subject of chapter four, and it was therein that the members of his entourage became the principal source of irritation for Tehran. The Kurdish rebellion of 1880, to which chapter five is devoted, represented an important watershed in Azerbaijan’s history. One of the most salient occurrences of Naser od-Din Shah’s reign, it marked the coming together of several axes of events, both internal and external to the province, and it manifested many of the short-comings in its administration. The penultimate chapter deals with the next decade and a half, at the beginning of which Naser od-Din tried to counteract what he believed to be the causes of the revolt and to bring Azerbaijan more securely under the control of the central government. That particular exercise in reorganization proved transitory as he lost resolve in the face of near incessant opposition from local officials. The province was once again placed under the local authority of Mozaffar od-Din, and by extension his entourage, until Naser od-Din Shah’s assassination in 1896.
Whereas the thirty-seven year tenure of Mozaffar od-Din as governor of Azerbaijan was characterized by his relative disinterestedness in the affairs of administration and the often detrimental influence of the men who surrounded him, that of his son, Mohammad Ali Mirza, which is covered in the final chapter, was markedly different in that he was a driven man in the realm of politics and intensely set on liberating himself from the restrictive devices employed by Tehran so that he could run the government in Azerbaijan unencumbered. He succeeded in that endeavor, but his severe and authoritarian manner of governance exacerbated discontent amidst the province’s populace and, combined with the on-going hardships brought on by shortages and even famine, brought about a reaction that in part accounted for many people in Azerbaijan becoming spirited participants in the Constitutional Movement.


James D. Clark

Dr. James D. Clark is a scholar and historian of the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition to numerous articles published in scholarly journals, he has authored Provincial Concerns: A History of the Iranian province of Azerbaijan, 1848-1906 and an annotated translation of Zayn ol-Abedin Maraghe’i’s The Travel Diary of Ebrahim Beg. He is currently working on a history of the Shaykh Obayd Kurdish revolt that took place in Iranian Azerbaijan in 1880 as well as a history of the province of Azerbaijan during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905-11). He has taught at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Peru State College, Khojand State University, and the University of Tehran. He has traveled extensively and lived in the Persian-speaking world. Between 1992 and 2000 he traveled to Khojand, Tajikistan, numerous times on behalf of the University of Nebraska. Since 2000 he has been the overseas director for the American Institute of Iranian Studies (AIIrS). From 2001 to 2006 he also served as the director of the Tehran Project in Iran whereby he supervised American doctoral students, promoted cooperation with Iranian institutions and academics, and worked with the University of Tehran, the International Center for Persian Studies (ICPS), and the Dehkhoda Institute. From 2007 to 2012 he was the program and site director of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) summer intensive language program for Persian and Tajiki-Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

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