The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Democracy is commonly paired with order while ethnic violence is paired with strife and chaos. The Post-Soviet Wars painstakingly documents that both violence and stability have institutional reasons and must be organized politically by specific human agencies. This lesson is obviously relevant to the contemporary discussion of democratization as well as ‘failing’ states, let alone the effects wrought by the American war on terror." -Georgi Derlugyan,author of Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography

"This is an uncommonly well-argued and well-written explanation of the violent conflicts that erupted across the Caucasus during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With exceptional clarity of thought, Zürcher melds established statistical studies of internal wars with a carefully constructed comparison of the origins and courses of the Chechen, Georgian, and Nagorno-Karabakh wars."-Foreign Affairs,

"With his exciting narratives and compelling analysis of the twentieth century's ‘Caucasian Wars,’ Zürcher brings events on the periphery of Europe into the mainstream of social science and comparative politics. Disputing existing explanations of internal wars, he shows that rather than mountainous terrain or poverty, a more powerful causal explanation of civil bloodletting can be located in state capacities and the abilities of combatants to finance their struggles. This book is sure to stir debate." -Ronald Grigor Suny,University of Michigan

"This book’s develops into a first-class, original study of the Russian Caucasus during its first years of detachment from the Soviet Union." -Choice,

"These well-written chapters provide plenty of detail and analysis, displaying the author’s deep understanding of the realities of these extremely chaotic and uncertain times in the Caucasus. The Post-Soviet Wars is an interesting read and remains relevant for understanding the contemporary dynamic in the Caucasus."-The Russia and Eurasia Review,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814797242
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 879,666
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christoph Zürcher is Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin. He is the editor of Potentials of Dis/Order: Explaining Violence in the Caucasus and in the Former Yugoslovia.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Introduction: War and Peace in the Caucasus 1

2 Setting the Stage: The Past, the Nation, and the State 11

3 Making Sense: Conflict Theory and the Caucasus 42

4 Wars over Chechnya 70

5 Wars in Georgia 115

6 The War over Karabakh 152

7 Wars That Did Not Happen: Dagestan and Ajaria 182

8 Conclusion: Post-Soviet Wars and Theories of Internal Wars 209

Notes 231

Bibliography 247

Index 263

About the Author 289

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