Dr John O’Loughlin, Dr Vladimir Kolossov and I visited Nagorny Karabakh in the summer of 2011, furthering our de facto state social science research project that continues to this day. With support from the US National Science Foundation, we organized a survey of public opinion there is late 2011, a survey that was replicated in part by our collaborator Dr Kristin Bakke at University College London.
We published some of the survey results in our large comparative paper on post-Soviet de facto states while JohnO and I published a paper that analyzed one battery of questions concerning the prevailing geopolitical imaginations of contemporary residents of Karabakh about where precisely the boundaries of the territory resided. This was a text driven set of questions. Modern survey methodologies involving tablet computers now enable survey questions prompted by visual images of territory, something we hope to develop in the future as survey firms begin to adopt these devices.
The research we have conducted to this point inevitably captures only the Armenian perspective, and is thus incomplete.
JohnO and I recently wrote a background ‘explainer’ for The Monkey Cage on the recent upsurge in fighting in Nagorny Karabakh here (thanks to those folks, especially Josh Tucker, for running it). We want to acknowledge the help of Nancy Thowardson, a cartographer in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in producing an updated color version of the map that accompanied the article below. The ‘conflict locations’ legend does not distinguish between Line of Contact (LOC) incursions, which occurred in the north and far south (generally far from Azerbaijani settlements on their side of the LOC), and shelling only which occurred in the Martuni area where there were Azerbaijani IDP settlements close to the LOC that were shelled.
It is worth underscoring that both sides have weapons capable of firing much greater distances than what they are using. BM-30 Smerch launch vehicles were reportedly deployed near the LOC but not used. For now, a particular techno-territorial regime (an actor-network if you prefer) of controlled violence remains in place, a few steps further up the escalation ladder than before but still quite a distance from unrestrained violence.
The TMC piece was extensively edited, and one line removed from the conclusion because it was deemed to stray into editorializing. Here it is below. See if you can spot the editorializing:
The Karabakh conflict has historically unseated governments in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. A ceasefire has now been agreed after four days of fighting. Will this significant eruption of violence galvanize international diplomacy, pitiful and inadequately resourced on the ground to this point? It should for Nagorny Karabakh is a conflict with the potential to escalate quickly into something broader, entangling Russia and Turkey (a member of NATO), and galvanizing the Armenian diaspora. We’ve had a warning; now is the time to act.