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New Volume of "Iran and the Caucasus" about Ethno-Religiousness, Volume 20, Issues 3-4, 2016, Brill, Leiden, Netherlands

Publish Date: Dec 07, 2016

The phenomenon of ethno-religiousness is among both the most fascinating and least investigated areas of studies. The formation of ethno-religious groups is always an enigmatic course, whose many aspects remain concealed, even when the process of their emergence can be analysed and even anticipated.

Historical analysis of ethno-religious communities demonstrates a clearly expressed vector in their development—the drive for ethnicity. The dynamics of this development—from religious identity to ethno-religiousness and, finally, inevitably to ethnicity—be it even controversial on different stages and in different socio-cultural or political realities, becomes obvious in the long run.

Having compiled the current volume, we were rather aiming at foregrounding of the phenomenon of ethno-religiousness in its various aspects, than at emphasising of any of its particular sides. As a result, the volume’s content looks pretty eclectic in terms of not only subjects, but also the statements of the question by the authors.

A considerable portion of the volume is devoted to Yezidism—one of the most conspicuous examples of ethno-religiousness. The articles by Peter Nicolaus and Artur Rodziewicz focus on the analysis of various ritual aspects of the Yezidi faith—the circumcision among the Yezidis and the celebration of the Yezidi Red Wednesday correspondingly. Birgül Açikyildiz-Şengül discusses cultural transformations reflected in the Yezidi architecture, and the article by Garnik Asatrian and Victoria Arakelova examines Shi‘a elements having mysteriously adapted in the Yezidi religious lore.    

Another bright representative of the ethno-religious groups, the Mandaean community, the new challenges its identity faces, and the rationalistic changes in its religious system aimed at adaptation to new realities, are in the focus of the article by Mehrdad Arabestani.

Discussing the Syriac Orthodox community in Bethlehem, Marc Calder argues that thinking of the group’s self-articulation as a kind of ecclesiology, “draws attention to the creative, … and dialogic process of being and becoming  siryāni”.  

If the Yezidis and Mandaeans have been traditionally referred to as ethno-religious groups, the approach to the identity of the modern Zoroastrains and that of the Balochis in the ethno-religious perspective, seems to be quite innovative for the academic scholarship. Paulina Niechciał and Mateusz M. Kłagisz discuss the issue of different identity patterns of the Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians.  

Finally, Vahe Boyajian demonstrates how different socio-political and cultural environments shape flexible Balochi identities versus a unified Balochi identity, arguing the existence of a solid ground for the development of the ethno-religious aspect in the Balochi complex identity.

The current, special volume of Iran and the Caucasus (vol. 20, 3-4) is particularly timed to the 20th Anniversary of the journal.  We hope that the volume will promote academic interest to the phenomenon of ethno-religiousness and encourage researchers to share their new ideas on the subject on the pages of our journal.

Victoria Arakelova
Associate Editor

Table of Contents

Special Issue




Preface by Victoria Arakelova (Associate Editor)   .  .  .  .  .  .


Mehrdad Arabestani – The Mandaeans’ Religious System: From Mythos to Logos .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Paulina Niechciał, Mateusz M. Kłagisz – Are Zoroastrians a Nation? Different Identity Formations/Patterns of Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Mark Calder – Syrian Identity in Bethlehem from Ethno-religion to Ecclesiology  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Peter Nicolaus – Yezidi Circumcision and Blood-Brotherhood (Including the Circumcision of the Dead) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Artur Rodziewicz – And the Pearl Became an Egg: The Yezidi Red Wednesday and Its Cosmogonic Background .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Birgül Açikyildiz-Şengül – From Yezidism to Islam: Religious Architecture of the Mahmudî Dynasty in Khoshâb  .  .  .  .  .


Garnik Asatrian, Victoria Arakelova – On the Shi‘a Constituent in the Yezidi Religious Lore  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


Vahe S. Boyajian – Is there Ethno-religious Aspect in Balochi Identity?  .  .  .  .  .


Book Review


Frederick Starr, The Lost Enlightenment. Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, Princeton/Oxford: “Princeton University Press”, 2013, 634 pp. (review by Peter Nicolaus, Dimitri Manjavidze)  



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