Reviews Circassia: Born to Be Free

March 31, 2018 by  

Adel Bashqawi

This book provides the history of Circassia, a small European nation in the northwestern Caucasus. It explains the Tsarist Russian invasion of this nation and the ensuing genocide which forced a mass migration. As a result of this history, most Circassians today live in the diaspora. Adel Bashqawi, himself a descendant of Circassian immigrants forcibly deported from their homeland into the Ottoman Empire, felt obligated to highlight an virtually forgotten period in the history of the Circassian nation.

This book will attract the interest of readers wanting to be informed about the many challenges facing the Circassian issue. This book elaborates on a variety of affairs of concern to Circassians and non-Circassians alike, notably those of academic interest and human rights issues.

The Circassian tragedy is analyzed in detail by Bashqawi. While this has received little attention in Western historiography, up to 90 percent of Circassians are reported by Bashqawi as having been deported from their homeland. They are today scattered in scores of countries around the world, with the rest dispersed in their motherland, living in several Russian administrative enclaves. Today, the integral elements of the entire Circassian nation are at stake, not just in territorial terms, but their language and culture.

The book describes how a nation has struggled to defend its very existence, identity, freedom and the very future of its generations who have endured a tremendous amount over the decades as a result of the already cited the Tsarist invasion. The Circassians have had to adapt to the conditions imposed by their displacement into the lands of diaspora, concomitant with a constant struggle against alienation.

A distinguishing feature of this book is that it deals with the issue of the Circassian identity and proposes possible legal methods with which the Circassians can utilize in order to re-attain their cultural rights.

This book also examines political issues not discussed in several books discussing Circassia and Circassians. By linking the past to the present, Bashqawi arrives at a vision for the future. he also cogently argues that simply ignoring the issues is no longer an adaptive option.

 It is also argued that optimism and solidarity are required to preserve the culture, heritage, language, and the entire nation of the Circassians.

The book demonstrates how the Circassians have the potential of linking and uniting over the internet. The use of traditional print media, modern and advanced communications, and social media have provided solid foundations for helping the Circassians connect across the globe. Thus far, the internet has aided with the following: teaching the Circassian Adigha language, preserving culture, acquiring eBooks, addressing children’s concerns, establishing communications, connecting activists, disseminating information about the Circassian issue, learning Circassian history, sharing petitions, finding research centers, reaching libraries, accessing archives, bookstores, and other important matters.


The New Geopolitics of the South Caucasus

Prospects for Regional Cooperation and Conflict

Resolution (Contemporary Central Asia: Societies,

Politics, and Cultures)

Shireen T. Hunter

Publisher: Lexington Books, November 2017

This collection surveys the three South Caucasian states’ economic, social and political evolution since their independence in 1991. It assesses their successes and failures in these areas, including their attempts to build new national identities and value systems to replace Soviet-era structures. It explains the interplay of domestic and international factors that have affected their performance and influenced the balance of their successes and shortcomings. It focuses on the policies pursued by key regional and international actors towards the region and assesses the effects of regional and international rivalries on these states’ development, as well as on the prospects for regional cooperation and conflict resolution. Finally, it analyzes a number regional and international developments which could affect the future trajectory of these states’ evolution.

Shireen T. Hunter has brought together a truly international team of experts to examine the complex geopolitics of the South Caucasus. The breadth and depth of analysis on key questions—such as state-building, democracy, and US–Russian rivalry—present the reader with a rich and textured account of the region. This volume is a tour de force on the interplay of global and regional dynamics which have made the geopolitics of the South Caucasus a continuing source of challenges and opportunities. (Shahram Akbarzadeh, Deakin University)

Shireen T. Hunter, herself an expert in Caucasian and Central Asian affairs, has gathered an exceptional team of specialists on the local histories, recent experiences, and geopolitics affecting the three South Caucasian republics—Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Geography may be destiny, but surviving and thriving in an area contested for centuries by Iran, Russia, and Turkey requires both diplomatic and political skills as well as good luck. In essays written with deep local knowledge and exceptional clarity, leading specialists guide the reader through the intricacies and complexities of the region. If you want to understand the past, present, and the future of the South Caucasian peoples, this is the book with which to begin. (Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan)

This study puts today’s volatile South Caucasus in its proper historical and geopolitical context. Readers new to the subject will become conversant with the main issues; old hands will find much to ponder and discuss. Shireen T. Hunter’s own unique perspective is especially valuable. (John Evans, former US Ambassador to Armenia)


A New Book on the

Geology and Earthquakes of Iran

Rasoul Sorkhabi

by the Geological Society of America

Iran lies at a critically important geologic region – at the collision zone of the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. This tectonic setting gives Iran and surrounding countries the natural riches of high mountains as well as disastrous earthquakes. A new book published by the Geological Society of America highlights the geologic history and earthquake tectonics of Iran and the surrounding lands in the Caucasus and Anatolia. The volume published in December 2017 is titled Tectonic Evolution, Collision, and Seismicity of Southwest Asia: In Honor of Manuel Berberian’s Forty-Five Years of Research Contributions. The book came out of a conference held on October 29, 2013 in Denver, Colorado, during the 125th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. Edited by Professor Rasoul Sorkhabi of the University of Utah, the huge book in 675 pages consists of 19 research papers, most of which deal with the tectonics and earthquakes of Iranian Plateau. Both the conference and the book were in recognition of Professor Manuel Berberain’s lifetime research contributions to geological knowledge, active tectonics and earthquake science of Iran. Berberian born in 1945 in Tehran to an Iranian Armenian family holds a PhD in geology from Cambridge and worked at the Geological Survey of Iran from 1971 until 1990 when he migrated to the USA. His publications (in English and Persian) include an impressive list of more than 110 research papers, over 200 geological reports and maps, and 11 books. His most recent book, Earthquakes and Coseismic Surface Faulting on the Iranian Plateau, was published in 2014 by Elsevier and is a monumental report on the earthquakes of Iran spanning centuries.

In his introduction to the book, Professor Sorkhabi writes that the geologic record of Iran “has important implications for understanding the tectonic evolution of Asia as well as the ongoing processes of structural deformation and the development of petroliferous sedimentary basin in the region. In addition, Cenozoic tectonics of the region has direct relevance for hazardous seismic activity, landscape development, and climatic changes that have shaped the region’s ecosphere.” The introductory chapter is followed by a biography and bibliography of Manuel Berberian (also written by the editor).  

The book opens with an important paper by Dr. Berberian on the history of geologic thinking and research in Iran from Zoroastrian mythology to the modern geologic work (roughly from 1200 BCE to 1980). A second paper titled “Tehran: An Earthquake Time Bomb” authored by Manuel Berberian and Professor Robert Yeats of Oregon State University is particularly timely in view of the recent destructive earthquakes in Iran.    

A press release about this book by the Geological Society of America reads: “Southwest Asia is one of the most remarkable regions on Earth in terms of active faulting and folding, large-magnitude earthquakes, volcanic landscapes, petroliferous foreland basins, historical civilizations as well as geologic outcrops that display the protracted and complex 540-m.y. stratigraphic record of Earth’s Phanerozoic Era. Emerged from the birth and demise of the Paleo-Tethys and Neo-Tethys oceans, southwest Asia is currently the locus of ongoing tectonic collision between the Eurasia-Arabia continental plates. The region is characterized by the high plateaus of Iran and Anatolia fringed by the lofty ranges of Zagros, Alborz, Caucasus, Taurus, and Pontic mountains; the region also includes the strategic marine domains of the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Caspian, and Mediterranean. This 19-chapter volume, published in honor of Manuel Berberian, a preeminent geologist from the region, brings together a wealth of new data, analyses, and frontier research on the geologic evolution, collisional tectonics, active deformation, and historical and modern seismicity of key areas in southwest Asia.”


The photo (courtesy of Dr. Mohammad Fakhari) shows Zard Kuh, the highest summit on the Zagros Range.



Comments are closed.