From Once-Dominant Minority to Historical Christian Outpost on the Southern Caspian: Azerbaijan’s Orthodox Christians

in Central Asian Affairs
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Based on field observations and an empirical survey on religion and identity that was conducted among the Slavic Orthodox population in the wider Baku area and in Ganja, this article examines the identity and social position of this community, now the country’s main Christian population group. While earlier research on the nominally Christian Slavic groups in the Caspian–Central Asian space tended to concentrate on ethnolinguistic and political issues, this research focuses on religious identification, religious practice, and the status of the Orthodox Church. Numbering just 1.5 percent of the population, the Orthodox Christian community in Azerbaijan is nearing extinction due to its aging membership. Nonetheless, Orthodox Christianity will keep a presence in the country and its society, although it could attract a more heterogeneous following.

From Once-Dominant Minority to Historical Christian Outpost on the Southern Caspian: Azerbaijan’s Orthodox Christians

in Central Asian Affairs

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Figures

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    Declared occupations and socioeconomic status (in number of respondents)14

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    Primary self-identification (“Who or what do you consider yourself to be in the first place?”) among the Slavic and culturally Orthodox population (in numbers of respondents and percent share)

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    Confessional self-affiliation among the Slavic and culturally Orthodox population in Azerbaijan (in percent share of respondents)

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    Shares of declared believers and non-believers (“Do you consider yourself to be a religious believer?”) (in number of respondents)

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    Declared importance of religion in everyday life (in number of respondents)

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    Declared levels of active religiosity (in number or respondents, more than one answer possible)

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    Declared confidence in the Orthodox Church and its clergy as compared to a number of other institutions (in number of respondents)

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    Perceived role of the Orthodox Church, its clergy, and lay parish workers in the life and preservation of coherence and identity of the community (percentage)

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    Perceived level of presence and activeness of the Orthodox Church, its clergy and lay parish workers in the social field (supra—in percent share), and the specific areas and activity where they are seen to be (infra—in number of respondents, more than one answer possible)

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    Can the Orthodox community preserve its ethnic and confessional identity in Azerbaijan? (in number of respondents and percent share)

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    Main societal challenges and threats affecting Azerbaijani society as perceived by its Slavic Orthodox minority (in number of respondents, several answers possible)

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