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State propaganda through public education: Armenia and Azerbaijan

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The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict shows how two nations that have had years of peaceful coexistence neighbouring each other, currently are in a state where negative attitudes and hatred prevail. In 1991, after Armenia and Azerbaijan declared independence, the escalation of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict led to their total isolation from each other. Governmental and intersocietal communication between these two nations is currently non-existent. Both nations focus their attention intensely on confrontation and hatred in every sphere of life. However, there have been times of mutual trust and cooperative neighbourly relations between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. With this in mind, it might be possible to achieve peaceful communication between the societies, if negative attitudes and hatred were eliminated or curtailed. Thus, the identification of sources that shape these attitudes is of high importance. The current study focuses on one of the assumed instruments for the dissemination of hatred by way of creating negative images of one another, which is the public education system. This research attempts to examine the role of state education policies, particularly on history textbooks, in the process of creating and spreading a negative image and hatred of the “enemy”. It studies what is the prevailing attitude towards each other in both Armenian and Azerbaijani societies; and weather the prevailing attitude is the result of education. For this purpose, the Armenian and Azerbaijani history textbooks and the official documents of each state that shape the general public education policy are analysed. In order to find out the influence of these education policies on the public, an online survey in Armenia and Azerbaijan was conducted. The uniqueness of this study is that both cases, Armenia and Azerbaijan, are examined and beyond merely examining the existence of propaganda in history textbooks, this research attempts to uncover the impact of such propaganda on each society.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction. 3

Current Theories. 4

Nation Building in the Post-Soviet Era. 6

Methodology. 9

Data Analysis. 10

Textbook analysis. 13

Findings. 25

Conclusion and Recommendations. 28

Bibliography. 29

Appendix 1. List of Documents Used. 32

Appendix 2. List of Tables. 33

Appendix 3. Survey Questionnaire. 34

 

Introduction

The republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia had formal governmental relations between 1918 and 1921, which continued throughout the Soviet era and lasted until the escalation of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the states of Armenia and Azerbaijan gained independence. The old dispute over the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast turned into a violent war between the two newly independent states. Due to recurring hostilities between these two countries, subsequent relations were shaped primarily around the conflict over the region of Nagorno Karabakh. Currently, there is no diplomatic representation between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict continues to flare up both republics. The escalation of the Karabakh war after both Armenia and Azerbaijan declared independence in 1991 led to increasing the rift between the two nations and their total isolation from each other. Currently, communication between these two nations, both at the levels of government and society, is down to zero. Although the 1994 ceasefire put an end to mass violence, no political resolution has been reached to this date. Both nations currently focus their attention intensely on the conflict – the years of war, hatred and confrontation in almost every sphere of life. Every aspect of the other state’s identity, including culture, religion, language, and traditions, is perceived negatively. However, there have been times of peaceful coexistence, cooperation, mutual trust, and peaceful neighbourly relations between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. Those periods were not in times immemorial, but rather just three decades ago. With this in mind, it might be possible to achieve peaceful communication between these two societies, if negative attitudes and hatred were eliminated or curtailed. Therefore, the identification of sources and approaches that shape these attitudes is important.

Current study focuses on one of the assumed instruments for the dissemination of hatred by way of creating negative images of another – the public education system. Building on earlier research, the hypotheses that are tested in this study explore the extent to which public education promotes negative image of the “enemy” through history textbooks. This research attempts to examine the role of state education policy, particularly history textbooks, in the process of creating, developing and spreading negative images and hatred of the “enemy” in the population. For this purpose, the research tries to find out whether history textbooks are used as a propaganda tool to create a negative image of the “enemy”; what is the prevailing attitude towards each other in both societies; and if the prevailing attitude is the result of education. More specifically, the research questions that this study addresses are: What is the intended role of history textbooks in educating the younger generations in Azerbaijan and Armenia? What is the process of adopting a history textbook in either state so it serves the intended role? Is there political pressure or intervention in writing history textbooks in both states? Are there negative images of one another portrayed in history textbooks of both states? What attitude prevails towards each other in both societies? Is the prevailing attitude towards each other in the two societies the result of education?

The study proposes following hypotheses to be tested:

H1: Azerbaijan uses the history textbooks to promote hatred against Armenians by creating a negative image of the “enemy”.

H2: Armenia uses the history textbooks to promote hatred against Azerbaijanis by creating a negative image of the “enemy”.

H3: As a result of the state education policy, there is a prevailing negative attitude towards Armenians and Armenia in the Azerbaijani society.

H4: As a result of the state education policy, there is a prevailing negative attitude towards Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan in the Armenian society.

While prior independent research exists on related topics, the uniqueness of this study is that both cases, Armenia and Azerbaijan, are examined in an integrated way. Prior research has tested if there exists propaganda in history textbooks in both countries. However, beyond merely examining the existence of propaganda in history textbooks, this research attempts to uncover the impact of such propaganda on the societies.

Current Theories

By nature, humans tend to define themselves as good and the opponent as “not-so-good” or simply “bad”. Members of each group evaluate themselves in a positive way in comparison to the other. In conflict situations, this tendency is even stronger and almost always leads to disrespect, hatred or even violent acts towards the other. People perceive themselves as victims and dehumanize the other. They recognize their version of the story as the “truth” and deny the validity of the other’s version. Violence is always believed to be initiated by the other and the need for violence as a defense mechanism is necessitated by the “victims” (Horowitz, 1985; Fabick, 2004; Vuorinen, 2012). These already existent perceptions of people are dangerous when they are augmented and fueled by other external factors, such as anti-other nation propaganda of the state.

Building such a disapproving image of the opponent represents a threat to the self and motivates humans to be vigilant and defensive and, even in extreme cases, to be ready for the self-protective first attack. Destroying the “enemy” that was defined and perceived as evil and destructive is often considered heroic, honorable, and legitimate. The creation of this image provides justification for violence and war. Thus, the “enemy” image activates a motive for action by self and the situation can easily escalate into conflict, insinuating that the image of the “enemy” is so harmful that there is no need to negotiate or to compromise. Thus, these images cause close-mindedness and are obstacles for negotiating and listening. Every statement and action made by the opposite side is perceived as a threat and dangerous action. Since each side expects the worst from the other, they both take protective action, and each side perceives the opponent’s defensive moves as aggression. These senses are influenced and amplified by propaganda machines and, under such influence, the society begins to believe in exaggerations, distortions, and fabrications spread by the authorities (Mueller, 2000; Oberschall, 2000; Fabick, 2004; Vuorinen, 2012; Rudolph, 2006).

In the literature reviewed numerous authors state that the portrayal of the “enemy” can be realized through various propaganda tactics. One of the most influential means for creating and disseminating the images of the “enemy” has been the system of education. Formal education is perceived as the medium for shaping the understanding, attitude and behaviour of people. Considering that the state is the official body for designing the curriculum for schools and for higher educational institutions, the system controls textbook content and other educational materials. This is how the state dictates and monitors the level and content of what is considered to be the most reliable and sound sources of knowledge. As Hickman and Porfilio (2012) claim, textbooks are considered to be the primary means for standardizing the curriculum and teacher performance (Applebaum, 2010; Morgan, 2012; Hickman and Porfilio, 2012; Chikovani, 2013).

The history textbooks are the state-authorized versions of the nation’s history and they are the only books that most people will ever find and read in many states. Accordingly, people’s knowledge base of history comes mainly from those books. History textbooks are thus meant to reflect the social and political needs of the state. The image of the “enemy” is portrayed by political authorities and is disseminated throughout society through history textbooks. This image may change according to the needs of the state. The hate-provoking features of the “enemy” always emphasize negative features. The image of the “enemy” is created by stressing cruelty and inhumanity. However, in contrast, Morgan (2012) argues that most hate messages and cruel images of the “enemy” are not depicted in textbooks consciously or intentionally. They reflect the feelings of the nation during that period in history. The other question is whether or not the textbooks alone promote stereotypes or create negative feelings (Wunsch, 2002; Crawford, 2003; Applebaum, 2010; Morgan, 2012; Hickman and Porfilio, 2012; Chikovani, 2013). Other mechanisms and sources of propaganda, such as mass media, are also strong tools to create “enemy” images and build on the influence of the education system.

Thus, education can have both a socially constructive as well as destructive impact. Especially in conflict situations, the education system can be used as a tool to propagate the state-formulated view and disseminate it among students throughout the country. It is therefore appropriate to conclude that the education system and textbook content have a significant role in dealing with historical conflicts among nations and rewriting content helps to present events in a very different form. On the flip side, a state’s education system can also nurture and sustain an ethnically tolerant climate and, by doing so, prevent ethnic escalations and conflicts. This is possible when both the content and process of education promote peace, social justice, respect for human rights, and acceptance of responsibility. Marko-Stockl (2008) and McLean-Hilker (2010) argue that schools should foster reconciliation-promoting behavior and conflict prevention. Negative images of the enemy should be deconstructed. Education through one’s history plays a central role in achieving this goal. It can reconstruct stereotypes, myths, and hatred rooted in societies throughout. Education should help people to think critically and become more sensitive to biases. Education should help to build a world community where people are interdependent, eliminating the rooted stereotypes among nations, including fear and escalation of negative feelings toward other nations. They should respect the uniqueness of their own group and, at the same time, see themselves as part of the world community. The UNESCO report (2010) on curriculum content suggests strategies for reviewing the content and structure of school curricula, including the removal of elements that can fuel conflict, preparation of new syllabi and textbooks including all stakeholders (Marko-Stockl, 2008; McLean Hilker; 2010; UNESCO, 2010; Gamaghelyan and Rumyantsev, 2013).

Nation Building in the Post-Soviet Era

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent emergence of the new independent states, the process of building national identities began as these young republics strived to gain sovereignty by way of adopting various strategies, national goals, and objectives. In all cases, the creation of a nation included the act of self-examination and the challenge of defining or redefining the self and the other (or the “enemy”). One of the primary means to disseminate these images of self and others was through the system of education.

Through textbooks, one began to perceive one’s own nation, its role in history and the image of others, mainly neighbors (Karpenko, 2013; Chikovani, 2013). The majority of newly independent states have inherited territorial disputes from the Soviet Union. For decades, these states have made every effort to construct their national identity within an environment of conflict with neighbors. This is how history has played and continues to play a crucial role in nation-building within the South Caucasus (Karpenko, 2013; Chikovani, 2013; Beteeva and Karpenko, 2013). One of the many examples of conflicts that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union is the Georgian-Ossetian territorial dispute. Almost the same situation can be observed in accounting for the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. The Abkhazian textbooks are written so as to shape a belief that the Soviet and present Georgian administration are guilty of starting the conflict (Beteeva and Karpenko, 2013; Gitsba, 2013).

The same process of re-interpreting and re-writing of the past so as to create a different image of the other also started in post-Soviet Georgia. A single history narrative was written and adopted. This narrative covered the situation of territorial conflicts among various ethnic groups and subsequent events in Georgia. Chikovani (2013) claims that in previous Georgian history textbooks, the image of the “others” was presented, and the differences between the “others” and the Georgian nation were highlighted. The Abkhazians and Ossetians were presented as acting against the legitimate regime of Georgia. However, the author argues that after 2005, a new law was adopted in Georgia establishing the basis for teaching Georgian history in a way to make it more interpretive. Moreover, the Tolerance Building through History Education project conducted in 2008-2011 under the sponsorship of EUROCLIO (European Association of History Educators) changed the content of education curricula to a great extent. It brought together a group of diverse historians to reflect on their approaches and to create the version of history that they would like the new generations to learn and to think more critically and creatively (Smilansky, 2011; Chikovani, 2013).

Case of Armenia and Azerbaijan

Thomas De Waal writes about the Armenian and Azerbaijani societies that “the problem … is rooted within the societies themselves, which display an inability to get rid of illusions and rhetoric and to get ready for reconciliation with a country that they still consider as their historical enemy” (De Waal, 2005).

In 1991, when after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the states of Armenia and Azerbaijan gained independence, the dispute over the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast turned into a violent war between the two newly independent states. Although the 1994 ceasefire put an end to mass violence, no political resolution has been reached to this date. The sides are violating the ceasefire through frequent sniper shootings and frequent killings along the border. The sides are engaged not only in a military arms race, but also in an ideological war through propaganda. Every aspect of the other state’s identity, including culture, religion, language, and traditions, is perceived negatively. This maybe the result of state-controlled propaganda of creating a negative image of the other nation and by that, instilling distrust and even hatred in the nation towards the “enemy”. The tools of propaganda may take any form to be disseminated in the society.

Elibegova and Adibekyan (2013) examined the state propaganda of Azerbaijan against Armenia and Armenians. As evidence of the existing state propaganda, the authors suggest analyzing the different aspects of Azerbaijani public life, such as the prohibition of Armenian names in Azerbaijan and of positive attitude towards Armenians, as well as propagating the usage of hate of Armenians in official speeches, in mass media, and in textbooks of history and literature. The authors claim that the actual scale and level of Azerbaijani propaganda are much higher. Along these lines, they do not deny that the Armenian society also expresses similar attitudes (Elibegova and Adibekyan, 2013).

Sayfutdinova (2011) analyzed the representations of Armenians in the Azerbaijani literature. The findings indicate that the main causes and blame for the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and the war are directed toward Moscow and Armenia. There exists an image of a “good” Armenian in the literature – defined as those that are integrated into the Azerbaijani society and have very friendly and close relationships with them. In the conflict period, however, the image of “bad” Armenians emerges, who are depicted as newcomers and outsiders vis-a-vis Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. There is a tendency to portray that the “good” Armenians die and are replaced by the “bad” ones (Sayfutdinova, 2011).

After gaining independence from the Soviet Union, both countries launched the creation and development of their respective history textbooks. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has a special place in the Armenian and Azerbaijani history textbooks. Several authors claim (Gamaghelyan and Rumyantsev 2013; Novikova 2012) that after independence the state-controlled education system produced history textbooks with content directed by state ideology. The depiction of the “enemy” is “cruel, inhuman, and violent”, whereas the self is “heroic, patriotic, and courageous” (Novikova, 2012; Gamaghelyan and Rumyantsev, 2013).

Zolian and Zakaryan (2008) conducted an analysis of Armenian textbooks, pointing to the importance and role of history textbooks in constructing the image of the other. The authors conclude that, the blame for Sumgait and Baku massacres is not laid on the Azerbaijani nation, but on the Russian state and the Azerbaijani government. Azerbaijan is presented as the enemy in the context of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict (Zolian and Zakaryan, 2008; Yunusov, 2011; Rumyantsev and Abbasov, 2008).

Similarly, according to several authors (Rumyantsev and Abbasov, 2008; Yunusov; 2011) the content of Azerbaijani history textbooks is controlled by the state and portrays the official ideology of the state. The history textbooks are written by a group of specialists approved and controlled by the state. In Azerbaijani history textbooks the single image of the “enemy” focuses on Armenia and Armenians. In some places, the authors posit that the enemy is presented through Armenian-Russian collaboration. The central role is reserved not to cultural figures but to those who fought for the motherland. History textbooks teach citizens to be able to distinguish “self” and “others” and, if and when necessary, to fight against the enemy of the state (Zolian and Zakaryan, 2008; Yunusov, 2011; Rumyantsev and Abbasov, 2008).

Methodology

The research methodology of the current study is mixed; both quantitative and qualitative approaches are used in the design. As qualitative data collection method,  content analysis of Armenian and Azerbaijani documents and textbooks was used, and as a quantitative method, survey was conducted in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The analysis of the data led to findings that answered the research questions of the study and helped test the hypotheses.

For the qualitative part of the research content analysis of various state documents and history textbooks was performed. The analysis of documents such as constitutions, education laws, government decrees and policies and educational guidelines was conducted. This helped to identify the exact process the states require for writing and adopting the history textbooks that are taught in schools and the types of interventions used in these processes. The content analysis of history textbooks helped to uncover whether there exists a negative image of the “enemy” in the texts and if yes, to what extent it is dehumanized.

The survey was used primarily to measure public attitude, feelings, and perceptions. The role of history education in promoting a feeling of hatred in respective nations was measured through the surveys. The survey questionnaire was designed arising from the research questions posed by this study. The research questions were broken down to more specific questions which formed the questionnaire. The survey questionnaires for Armenia and Azerbaijan were designed identically in order to get unbiased results. The surveys were firstly tested using a group of fifteen university students and the questionnaires were modified and improved based on feedback received from participating respondents. The primary data gathered from the surveys was analysed through statistical analysis using SPSS. In order to find cause-and-effect relationships, data analysis included mainly cross tabulations and correlations. The correlation analysis used two-tailed tests with Pearson R at a confidence level of 99%.

The surveys were distributed in English and in the national languages of the respective states to let the respondents comprehend the questions and answer candidly. Realizing the limitations arising from the relationship between the two states, the survey in Azerbaijan was conducted online, through an anonymous profile, not disclosing the identity of the author. The questionnaire was placed in a number of social network sites through an online survey software and people were invited to take the survey voluntarily. To keep the two surveys identical, the one in Armenia was also conducted online in the same manner.

The target population aimed at were respondents 15 to 25 years of age. Thus, the stratum aimed at was the age group of 15-25. This age group was selected taking into account the fact that for this research people who have received education after the collapse of the USSR through already national history textbooks, were better positioned to identify the issues related to the research questions. This is because the research measures the impact of history education of the independent states of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Taking this into account, the research used a stratified sampling. The survey was placed in the social network sites and people in the age group of 15-25 were invited to take the survey voluntarily. The number of volunteers in Armenia was 107 and 120 in Azerbaijan. This sample sizes are representative of the 15-25 age group strata of the two societies in case of a confidence level of 99% and a margin of error of 12.5%.[1] The research study has limitations mainly arising from shortage of time and other resource-related constraints. Time limitations minimized the possibility of assuring a larger number of respondents to the surveys. Another serious constraint arose from the current status of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, which limited full access to Azerbaijani sources and technical difficulties associated with conducting the survey.

Data Analysis

Document analysis

With the purpose of finding out what is the intended role of history textbooks in educating the younger generations in Azerbaijan and Armenia, the process of adopting a history textbook and the extent of political pressure or intervention in writing history textbooks in both states was examined through the analysis of Armenian and Azerbaijani state documents.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, 1995, articles 89.5 and 39), the state implements comprehensive state policies and sets the procedures for educational institutions as defined by law. The Law of the Republic of Armenia on General Education requires that textbooks and teacher manuals for the schools be approved by the Ministry of Education and comply with the state general education criteria developed by the Ministry of Education (RA National Assembly, 2009, articles 3.15, 17.6, 30.1.8). Similarly, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the state sets forth the educational standards and controls the education process (Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, article 42). It is stated in the Law on Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan that the state ensures the development, approval, and publication of textbooks and other teaching aids for educational institutions (National Assembly of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 2002, article 29.2.33). Thus, in both cases the process of adopting and implementing educational policies is regulated by the Constitution and laws and controlled by the state.

Armenia: Since 1998, the selection of textbooks for schools is conducted through competition. Under the purview of the Minister of Education, two commissions are established for managing the competition: the Commission on Content, which assesses the merits of the submitted textbook content; and the General Commission, which is responsible for organizational issues. The textbooks are assessed according to their compliance with general education standards and program guidelines (Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, 2009; Armenian Educational Portal, 2009).

In the documents reviewed there is nothing about the content of the textbooks and the ways that the “enemy” should be described. Nevertheless, some documents include that the history lessons should instill in pupils a sense of tolerance and respect towards human rights, which mitigates possible aggressive and intolerant attitude towards any nation (Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, 2007; Government of Armenia, 2010).

The law on Education of the Republic of Armenia requires that textbooks and teacher manuals for the schools be approved by the Ministry of Education and comply with the state general education criteria developed and ratified by the Ministry of Education. The schools are allowed to choose the textbooks, guidelines for teaching methods, and other instructional materials. However, they may only choose from the approved list provided by the Ministry of Education (Government of Armenia, 2010).

According to the guidelines for Armenian history teachers (2007), the main goal of teaching national history is to raise citizen consciousness, instill national and universal values, and increase among them tolerance and respect for human rights. Studying national history is expected to inspire people in a way that they impart and contribute to the struggle of protecting the sovereignty of the nation. Studying history will connect children and future citizens with the motherland and make them more responsible. The heroic events of national liberation movements, the brave and self-sacrificing acts of Armenian heroes are expected to inspire children to love and protect the motherland even at the expense of their personal lives (Gukasyan, 2007).

Azerbaijan: The importance of studying the national history of Azerbaijan is articulated in the official webpage of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education, stating that Azerbaijan’s historic leader Heydar Aliyev has always paid special attention to the preparation of textbooks for schools (edu.gov.az). He has emphasized consistently the significant role that history and other textbooks play in education. In addition, according to the “Guidelines for educating children in the spirit of patriotism”, all subjects taught at school present great opportunities to instil a sense of patriotism among the youth (Central Library: Methodological Department, 2008).

It is stated in the Law on Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan that among the state’s responsibilities in the field of education is the charge to ensure the development, approval, and publication of textbooks and other teaching aids for educational institutions. According to the textbook policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Education announces a competition to develop textbooks or orders it. The Ministry is responsible for setting the assessment standards of textbooks; for defining procedures for the preparation of new textbooks; for determining the required standards; for providing the list of textbooks; and for approving the textbooks. The textbooks are evaluated in accordance with the “Textbooks Assessment Criteria” approved by the Minister of Education. The Ministry announces the competition. The assessment of submitted textbooks is conducted by the Textbook Assessment Council (TAC) in two phases. The Ministry of Education appoints the chairman of the Council and approves the other members selected by the Chairman (Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan, 2009).

In the Azerbaijani Textbook Policy and Assessment Criteria it is stated that content should not include national, religious, racial, and political discrimination. It should rather ensure a sensible approach to gender, race, ethnic, and religious issues. However, at the same time, the “Guidelines for educating children in the spirit of patriotism” states that “Armenian aggressors, who caused deaths of heroes in the battle of life and death, and morally damaged their lives should serve as the basis of patriotic education” (Central Library: Methodological Department, 2008: 3-5). An exhibition is conducted in the schools of Azerbaijan titled “War through the eyes of children”. The purpose of this exhibition is to enhance the children’s and youth’s imagination and understanding of war. The children meet with eye-witnesses of the war, who tell them stories, read excerpts from books, show films, etc. This provides an opportunity to promote among children a sense of citizenship; ask questions as to why they love the motherland; who are Armenians; who is a better citizen; what is their civic duty; when and how did the Khojaly tragedy happen; etc. (Central Library: Methodological Department, 2008).

There are special training courses organized by the Ministry of Education for teachers to implement the practical use of the textbooks. The teachers are expected to provide additional materials to students outside of textbooks. In addition, according to the Textbook Assessment Criteria the lesson should be planned in a way that develops critical thinking, comprehension, and self-assessment. Thus, while the Textbook Policy of Azerbaijan tells about the trainings for the correct use of textbooks, in the Assessment Criteria reference is made to the right of teachers to give additional materials other than the textbooks (“Azerbaijani Textbook Policy”, 2006; “Azerbaijani Textbook Assessment Criteria”, 2009).

It is important to mention that the Armenian Law on Education prohibits political propaganda in schools, clearly stating that “engaging in political activities or carrying out political propaganda in educational institutions shall be prohibited” (RA National Assembly, article 4.8), while the corresponding Azerbaijani Law on Education there is no mention of such prohibition.

Textbook analysis

In order to find out whether history textbooks in Armenia and Azerbaijan are used as a propaganda tool to create a negative image of the “enemy”, the content analysis of history textbooks of both states was conducted. The content analysis measures how the two states portray the image of each other in the history pages and to what extent these images of one another instill a feeling of hatred in the learners. It is important to note that the content analysis is not conducted in a way of comparing the textbooks of the two states, as long as the sections allocated to one another in the textbooks are not equal. The method used to conduct the analysis is that all the words referring to the other nation are collected and categorised in 3 groups in accordance with their severity in portraying the enemy and instilling hatred towards them. And the number of words and phrases in each group will determine which type of words each state uses the most while denoting the other, thus the severity in denoting and referring to the other.

In Armenia, the first mention of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis in history textbooks appears in the ninth grade, while the history teaching begins in the fifth grade. Before that the only mention is in the eighth year textbook in the chapter about the Armenian-Tatar 1905-1906 War, where Tatars are referred to as Azerbaijanis (Barkhudaryan, 2007, 125-126). Later Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis are mentioned in the ninth grade history textbook. In the 163-page textbook there are only two chapters dedicated to Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan, which cover the Karabakh Movement, the War, and the whole process of Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s independence declaration. Along with these two chapters, there are also other sections in the textbook that briefly touch upon Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

In Azerbaijan, unlike the case of Armenian history textbooks, the image of Armenia and Armenians appears from the fifth grade, which is the first year of national history instruction. First appearing in the fifth grade the image of Armenians develops in each year textbook and reaches its culmination in the eleventh and last year textbook.

The content analysis of history textbooks will be discussed below. Words and phrases used referring to the “enemy” are classified into three groups in accordance with their severity in denoting the enemy. According to the number of words and phrases in each group the severity in denoting and referring to the “enemy” will be determined.

  • The first group includes words and phrases that may appear in every description of a war scene, which do not instill hatred in the reader.
  • The second group comprises words and phrases that depict the “enemy” in a bad manner, characterizing it with negative qualifications.
  • The last group represents words and phrases that qualify and present the enemy to an extreme such that the “enemy” is dehumanized (See Tables 1 and 2).

The first group of words and phrases appear mostly in those sections of the textbooks that describe military operations. They are considered neutral as they also appear in other sections of the textbook that address another party involved in war. Consequently, every depiction of war, no matter who is on the opposite side, is referenced as the enemy. However, the reader may draw some negative feelings when reading that his/her homeland was attacked, looted, invaded, or bombed by another nation, especially when these actions took place in the recent past. Along with this, some phrases, such as provoked or initiated the war, military aggression, or the lost pleasure of freedom because of the enemy put every responsibility of the start of the war on the opposite side and blame them for being the aggressor. These neutral phrases appear in both states’ textbooks.

The second group comprises words and phrases that characterize the enemy with negative qualifications and instill negative attitudes and feelings in the reader towards the enemy. For instance, reading about a certain nation how brutal or cruel they were performing vandalism and violence and killing or injuring one’s nation will naturally instill negative attitudes towards that nation, especially when the exact number of killed or injured is provided.

The Azerbaijani history textbooks refer to Armenians as faithless people, dressed in black. First, this appears in the fifth grade textbook in the form of a collective image of Georgians and Armenians several times in sections where the Azerbaijani people struggle against Armenian and Georgian feudal lords and their patrons, which are referred to as faithless people, dressed in black (Mahmudlu, Halilov, et. al., 2003). After, the term is used to refer only to Armenians. A separate section in the seventh grade textbook is titled “The struggle against the gyavurs (faithless) dressed in black in the epic”. Byzantine, Armenian, and Georgian feudal lords were called gyavurs, who tried to set Turks against each other, conducting the policy of their self-extermination (Mahmudlu, Yusifov, et. al., 2001).

Later in the textbooks, Armenians are labelled as fascists and chauvinists because of whom the Azerbaijani people lost two-three generations of their best people. Everywhere in history textbooks Armenians are referred to as traitors, liars, treacherous, hypocritical, or conspirators, who always express black ingratitude and have dirty purposes (Mahmudlu, Yusifov, et. al., 2001; Mahmudlu, Halilov, et. al., 2003; Mamedov, Valiev, et.al., 2002; Gafarov, Mamedov et al, 2002).

The third group includes a group of words and phrases that dehumanize the enemy to the extreme. Use of such words promotes building an image of the enemy, which is inhuman and remorseless in the minds of the readers. In the Armenian textbooks we come across the words massacre and ethnic cleansing (“հայաթափում”) of Armenians by Azerbaijanis (Barkhudaryan, 2008). In the Azerbaijani history textbooks Armenians are described as bloodsuckers, saying that they committed bloody crimes swallowing blood everywhere and choking with blood. They are remorseless and show no mercy; they kill everyone, even children, pregnant women, elderly people and after killing they even mutilate the corpses. These phrases are common in the sections describing genocides of Azerbaijanis by the Armenians (Gafarov, Mamedova et al, 2002).

In the eleventh grade Azerbaijani history textbook a separate section in entitled “Genocide of the Azerbaijanis in March 1918” and the second genocide of Azerbaijanis by Armenians took place on 25 February, 1992 in Khojaly.

At 21:00 hours on 25th February, 1992, Armenian armed groups, together with Russian 366th mechanized regiment… attacked Khojaly… A total of 613 people were killed in the Khojaly massacre, 487 were injured, 1,275 were taken captive, six whole families were killed and the town was burned. Many women, children and elderly people who managed to leave the town on the snowy frosty night were intercepted and killed by the Armenian fascists. The cruel enemy even mutilated the corpses (Gafarov, Mamedova et al, 2002).

Table 1. Words and phrases in the Armenian history textbooks

Words and Phrases Describing War Negative Connotations of the Enemy  

Words and Phrases Used to Dehumanize the Enemy

attack/ed by… brutal massacre
lootings by… vandalism ethnic cleansing
invaded/conquered/annexed by… killed/injured by…
confiscated property we should punish them
criminals anti-Armenian policy/propaganda
military aggression
displaced people
threat
provoke/initiate
9 5 2

Table 2. Words and phrases in the Azerbaijani history textbooks

Words and Phrases Describing War Negative Connotations of the Enemy Words and Phrases Used to Dehumanize the Enemy
attack/ed by… cruel massacre
lootings by… violence ethnic cleansing
invaded/conquered/annexed by… killed/injured by… they showed no mercy
confiscated property an old enemy cannot become a friend they drank blood
bandits fascists they choked with blood
bombed by… dirty purposes terror
occupiers Because of Armenians Azerbaijani people lost 2-3 generations annihilate
lost pleasure of freedom evil genocide
treacherous bloody crimes
  traitors mutilated the corpses
  conspirators many people who managed to leave the country were killed
  notorious for their deceitfulness they did not even spare pregnant women
  liars  
  hypocritical  
  death blow to the independence of the state  
  displayed their meanness until the last moment  
  aggression  
  tragedy  
  black ingratitude  
  destroy/ruin  
  chauvinists  
  faithless  
8 22 12

Survey analysis

The survey was conducted with the aim of measuring what is the prevailing attitude towards each other in the Armenian and Azerbaijani societies and if the prevailing attitude is the result of education. As already mentioned in the methodology of the research, the survey was conducted online on a voluntarily basis.

 Azerbaijan

A respondent writes…

“After I met a lot of Armenians, I realized that it is a waste of time to try to change history (their version of the truth).”

The Attitude towards Armenia and Armenians: The survey results indicate that negative attitudes towards Armenians prevail in the Azerbaijani society. The results show that many more people have had negative first impression of Armenia and Armenians than positive. In addition, the majority of those that have had positive first impression have subsequently changed their opinion. And the majority of those that have had negative first impression did not change their attitude. Thus, the negative first impression stayed unaltered, and the positive turned to negative, suggesting that negative attitudes prevail. The most common answer for changes in opinion is the way they see things changed or they got more knowledgeable.

The preferences to meet and know an Armenian were distributed in a way that about 46% of the respondents would not like to meet and know an Armenian, and about 32% of them would like to meet and know an Armenian, while 20% being neutral in this regard. As to the reason for meeting and knowing an Armenian the majority of the respondents (47%) stated that there is no specific reason for that; and about 23% said that “one should know one’s enemy well”. As to the question on what their attitude will be when they meet an Armenian, half of the respondents answered positively that it would be interesting and also it depends on the person, and the other half answered that they would not trust any Armenian and will dislike one. Only 2 people said that they would beat or kill the Armenian they meet.

The majority of respondents said that they would not marry (44.2%) or would never fall in love with an Armenian (23.1%); and 38.5% responded that they would not live next door to an Armenian; 37.5% responded that they would never work with an Armenian; and an equal percentage stated that it depends on the person. Accordingly, the respondents consider possible business relations with Armenians, while completely denying close relations.

A respondent writes…

“I want to meet an Armenian to show that we Azerbaijanis are not bad people, contrary to what they were taught in their schools. We were good neighbors for many years. Azerbaijanis always shared everything with them: bread, salt, cotton, oil, gas during the Soviet period. But their nationalists started an undeclared war against Azerbaijan, occupied Karabakh with surrounding districts, and committed the Khojaly genocide against Azerbaijanis.”

The respondents were asked to rank in order who they consider their personal enemies. The majority of the respondents or 43.5% ranked first that their enemies are those who cause pain to their nation. Clearly, the vast majority or 75.6% of respondents said that Armenia and Armenians are a threat to their country. Similarly, 86.8% answered that they consider Armenia an enemy country; 92.3% answered that Armenians consider Azerbaijanis their enemy; and 92.3% posit that Armenians hate Azerbaijanis. From the respondents that think that Armenians hate Azerbaijanis, the majority or 54.5% stated that their attitude will change if Armenians treat Azerbaijanis well.

The vast majority of the respondents or 66.3% said that they want hatred between the two nations to be eliminated and 52.2% stated that the two nations could coexist peacefully. The majority of those respondents that consider Armenia an enemy indicated that they’d prefer to see the conflict resolved peacefully, including “forgetting everything and live in peace thereafter; finding mutually acceptable solutions; establishing committees to discover the truth or to reach compromise”. Considerably less people preferred to destroy the enemy or to win the war; an equal number of respondents that considered Armenians to be the enemy stated that they would negotiate, compromise, and reach agreement; and that one day they would become friends as opposed to fighting against the enemy; protecting their motherland from the enemy; killing them; or relying on God to punish them.

The Impact of Education on Society’s Attitude: An analysis was conducted to find out if there is a cause and effect relationship between education in schools and the impression of youth about Armenia and Armenians, i.e., if there is hatred or tolerance among the new generation of Azerbaijanis. The vast majority of respondents from Azerbaijan learnt about Armenia and Armenians during their school or pre-school years. More specifically, the majority of them have learnt about Armenians from their family and peers/teachers from school. The negative correlation of -0.718 (Table 3) indicates that the more people remember what they’ve learnt in school on history, the less likely it is to have positive first impression about Armenians. In addition, the vast majority of people that said they have their current knowledge of national history from school had negative first impressions about Armenia and Armenians, rather than positive.

Table 3. Correlation between the positive first impression and knowledge of history

Positive impression of Armenians
I remember what I have learnt in school on the history of Azerbaijan Pearson Correlation -0.718**
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.006
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level of confidence (2-tailed).

In order to measure the impact of education on people’s attitude, several variables concerning the way people learnt history were selected, including (a) if the current history knowledge of people is from school; (b) if people have acquired history knowledge elsewhere besides school; and (c) if they had analysed or simply memorized the textbook content. Further, only those respondents that have learnt about Armenia and Armenians first in school were grouped for analysis. A larger number of these people have had a positive first impression than negative. The “negative impression” included the impression that “one should be wary to protect the motherland from Armenians; that Armenians are enemies and are in conflict with them”.

As Table 4 illustrates there is a strong correlation between the way people think the enemy should be treated and the method of learning about their national history. Although rather weak, a positive correlation exists between respondents that have read other books, watched other programs and films on history, and acquired knowledge from family besides school, and how they think the enemy should be treated. This reveals that additional sources of acquiring history knowledge affect positively the way people think the enemy should be treated.

Table 4. Method of learning history v. attitude towards the enemy and approach to resolving the conflict

I have read other books about history of Azerbaijan, besides my history textbook I have watched other national history programs or films, besides my history textbook Besides school, I have learnt history of my country from my family
What should be done to the enemy? _ positive Pearson Correlation 0.269** 0.274** 0.269**
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000 0.000 0.000
Stop conflict_positive Pearson Correlation 0.279** 0.260** 0.219**
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000 0.000 0.002
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level of confidence (2-tailed).

Similarly, the positive correlations in Table 4 indicate that the more people acquire knowledge from sources other than school, the more they think that the conflict should be solved in a peaceful manner.

Taking yet another look, Table 5 indicates that there is a strong correlation between the manner in which people acquire history knowledge and the way they view the enemy and conflict resolution. The negative correlations of -0.413 as well as -0.371 show that if respondents’ knowledge of national history is from school, they are less likely to consider treating the enemy more positively and solving the conflict peacefully.

Table 5. Manner of acquiring history knowledge and view of the enemy

What should be done to the enemy _ positive Stop conflict _ positive
My knowledge of national history is from what I learned in school Pearson Correlation -0.371** -0.413**
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.000 0.000
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level of significance (2-tailed).

Table 6 indicate that there is a strong correlation between memorizing the content of history textbooks and attitude towards the enemy and ways of solving the conflict. The positive correlations of 0.220 and 0.473 show that people that have memorized their history textbooks are more likely to treat the enemy negatively and want to stop the conflict by fighting and by force.

Table 6. Memorizing content of history textbooks v. attitude towards the enemy and approach to solving conflict

    Stop conflict _ negative What should be done to enemies? _ negative
We were required to memorize the content of the history textbook Pearson Correlation 0.220** 0.437**
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.002 0.000
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level of significance (2-tailed).

Although these correlations show that school education has negative impact on individual attitudes towards Armenians, there are exclusions. The cross tabulations reveal that the majority of respondents that have acquired history knowledge from sources aside textbooks consider Armenia and Armenians a threat and an enemy of Azerbaijan. These people also think that Armenians hate Azerbaijanis and consider Azerbaijanis their enemies. In addition, the majority of those that did not acquire knowledge from any other source aside from school have the same opinion and attitude. And the vast majority of all respondents want the hatred between the two nations eliminated. Thus, besides school, other ways of acquiring knowledge, such as history books, programs, films and one’s contacts (family and friends) play a significant role in the formation of attitudes towards Armenia and Armenians. Negative feelings may be shaped through either way.

Armenia

The Attitude towards Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis: The results of the survey indicate that the vast majority of respondents from Armenia have had a negative first impression about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis than positive. However, the majority of those that have had a positive first impression have changed their opinion in time. And the vast majority of those that have had a negative first impression did not change their attitude, which means that currently negative attitudes prevail in Armenian society. The most common reason for change of opinion that people cite is the changing of the way they see things or acquiring additional knowledge in time.

In Armenia, the desire to meet and know an Azerbaijani was distributed as follows: about 46.7% of respondents would not like to meet and know an Azerbaijani and about 39% would. The overwhelming (46.9%) reason cited is that they would want to know an Azerbaijani to check if they have got the right opinion of them or not and about 22% stated that they “ought to know the enemy well”. The majority of respondents stated that they would be interested in meeting an Azerbaijani and also that their attitude depends on the person they meet; the majority also stated that if they were treated right they would also treat them well in return; 23.3% said that they would probably become friends; the rest stated that they would not trust any Azerbaijani and would definitely dislike one; and only three people said that they would beat or kill the Azerbaijani they meet.

The vast majority of respondents said that they would not marry (38.3%) or would never fall in love (29%) with an Azerbaijani. The majority also thinks that they would not live next door (42.2%) to an Azerbaijani, however, the majority would consider possible business relations with Azerbaijanis.

The vast majority (91.6%) of respondents in Armenia considers Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis a threat to Armenia and 89.7% considers Azerbaijan an enemy; and 96.3% believe that Azerbaijanis consider Armenians their enemy. Among those respondents that think that Azerbaijanis hate Armenians, the majority (61.6%) stated that their attitude will change if they were sure that Azerbaijanis do not hate them and treat Armenians well. The majority of respondents (48.6%) indicated that they would want the hatred to be eliminated and 83.1% said that the two nations could coexist peacefully.

The majority of respondents that consider Azerbaijan an enemy prefer to solve the conflict in a peaceful manner, such as “forget everything and live in peace (15.6%); find mutually acceptable solutions (67.7%); or establish committees to discover the truth” (27.7%); a much fewer number of respondents would opt to “destroy the enemy (9.4%) or win the war” (24%). Further, 66.7% of those respondents that consider Azerbaijanis the “enemy” said that “the two nations should negotiate and find a solution; and that one day they might become friends” (9.4%); others think that they should “fight against the enemy (18.8%); protect their motherland from them (26%); kill them (8.3%); or God will punish them” (16.7%).

The Impact of Education on Society’s Attitude: The majority of respondents in Armenia learnt about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis in their pre-school period and another large segment learned in school. However, more than half stated that they have learnt about Azerbaijanis from family and the rest learned from the media, university or friends. Similar to the Azerbaijani case, people who have learnt about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis in school were selected to conduct further analysis with, which measures the impact of school in shaping people’s attitudes.

Table 7. First positive impression v. learning history in school

I remember what I have learnt in school on the history of Armenia
First impression _ positive Pearson Correlation -0.103
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.291
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Quite similar to the pattern of responses from Azerbaijan, the vast majority of the respondents in Armenia had negative first impressions of Azerbaijanis. Table 7 indicates that there is no correlation between what people remember from what they have learnt in school v. their first impression of Azerbaijanis.

Similar to the analysis of the survey data from Azerbaijan, the same variables were used to test the impact of education on the people’s attitudes.

Table 8. Learning history in school v. what should be done with the enemy

What should be done to the enemy _positive What should be done to the enemy _negative
My current knowledge of history of my country is from what I acquired in school Pearson Correlation 0.058 0.119
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.551 0.223
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The same set of correlations was used to test the data collected from Armenia. Table 8 and 9 show that there is no correlation between the fact that people have acquired their current history knowledge in school and negative or positive attitudes toward conflict resolution; or stopping the conflict in positive or negative ways.

Table 9. History knowledge from school and attitudes toward conflict resolution

Stop conflict _ positive Stop conflict _ negative
My current knowledge of history of my country is from what I acquired in school Pearson Correlation 0.071 -0.169
Sig. (2-tailed) 0.857 0.664
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

There is also no correlation between the tendency of people to analyze (Sig. equals 0.311) or memorize (Sig. equals 0.347) their history textbooks and the way they think the enemy should be treated or the conflict resolved.

A series of cross tabulations support the idea that school has no impact on the attitude towards Azerbaijanis revealing that the majority of respondents who acquired history knowledge from school think that the conflict should be solved in a peaceful manner and the enemy should not be treated with force (See Table 10).

We should fight against the enemy We should kill the enemy We should find mutually acceptable solutions We should forget everything and live in peace
My current knowledge of history of my country is from what I acquired in school 5.6% 12.5% 55.4% 51.2%

Table 10. History knowledge from school and attitudes toward the ‘enemy’ and conflict resolution

A number of cross tabulations show that the vast majority of respondents that have learned about their national history from school consider Azerbaijan an enemy and a threat to Armenia; they also think that Azerbaijanis hate Armenians and consider them the enemy. Similarly, respondents whose history knowledge is not from school only also think that way.

Meanwhile, he cross tabulations revealed that the vast majority of people that acquired their history knowledge elsewhere besides school, such as other history books, movies or family, also stated that they consider Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis a threat to and an enemy of their country. These people also think that Azerbaijanis hate Armenians and consider them enemies. Accordingly, other ways of acquiring history knowledge play a significant role in shaping negative attitudes towards Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis.

In addition, the cross tabulations show that other sources of learning history have higher impact on the way that people think the enemy should be treated and the conflict resolved. The vast majority of those respondents who acquired history knowledge elsewhere aside from school tend to be more negative about the ways of treating the enemy and solving the conflict. In contrast, most people that comparably did not learn history from any additional source tend to want the conflict resolved peacefully. Thus, again the impact of other sources on the formation of negative attitudes is high. And the school’s impact on the negative opinions is either positive or slim.

Findings

In order to test the first and second hypotheses posed by the research – that history textbooks promote hatred by creating a negative image of the enemy – it is important to find the degree to which the state controls the process of educating the young generations. The document analysis provided an opportunity to analyse the process of adopting history textbooks and find out if there is state intervention in the process. Subsequently, the analysis of history textbooks helped uncover whether there is a negative or dehumanized image of the enemy in those texts.

H1: Azerbaijan uses the history textbooks to promote hatred against Armenia by creating a negative image of the enemy.

The document analysis revealed that the Azerbaijani history textbooks are assessed by the government, according to government-established criteria and the government controls the whole process of textbook adoption. Accordingly, the government controls the whole process of textbook selection and adoption.

The document analysis showed that instilling negative attitudes towards the “enemy” in Azerbaijan is done through teaching patriotism in a way that the aggressor Armenians should be kept in focus. In addition, children should know everything in detail about the war, about the genocide committed by Armenians.

Further, the textbook content analysis helped to measure whether Azerbaijan creates a dehumanized or evil image of the “enemy”; through history textbooks. The analysis revealed that neutral words and phrases are the least frequent in Azerbaijan. Instead, negative and dehumanized qualifications of Armenians are much more frequent, the inhuman qualifiers being as dominant as to depict Armenians as showed no mercy, drank blood, mutilated the corpses, did not spare pregnant women, etc. Thus, Azerbaijani history textbooks are intense in creating a dehumanized image of Armenia and Armenians as their enemy.

To sum up, the content of the textbooks is approved by the state, and the content of textbooks includes severely dehumanized images of Armenians as the enemy of Azerbaijan. Accordingly, hypothesis 1 is accepted.

H2: Armenia uses the history textbooks to promote hatred against Azerbaijan by creating a negative image of the enemy.

The document analysis revealed that the government of Armenia controls the publication and choice of history textbooks. The final decision to select the winning textbook and adopt it is made by the Ministry of Education, according to the state education standards. Thus, the whole process of textbook selection, assessment, and adoption is controlled by the state.

The textbook content analysis showed, that the most frequently appearing words and phrases in the Armenian textbooks are in the first group, which are rather neutral, war-describing words. These words are double more than the words in the other two groups separately, which are the negative and dehumanizing qualifications. However, there are only a few sections in Armenian history textbooks referring to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis. The reason for this is that according to Armenian sources the state of Azerbaijan was created only after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the people before that were called Caucasus Tatars and were spread throughout the Caucasus.

In the Armenian history textbooks, the words brutal, vandalism are the most negative qualifiers of Azerbaijanis and their most negative actions are the anti-Armenian propaganda; the killings of Armenians; massacre and ethnic cleansing.

To conclude, the process of textbook selection and adoption is controlled and the content is approved by the state, but it does not include a dehumanized image of Azerbaijanis. Accordingly, the second hypothesis is rejected.

H3: As a result of the state education policy, there is a prevailing negative attitude towards Armenians and Armenia in the Azerbaijani society.

As the survey results indicate, the prevailing common attitude towards Armenians in Azerbaijan is mostly negative. Data analysis revealed that the more people’s knowledge of history is from school, the more they tend to think that the enemy should be treated harshly and the conflict solved by force. This shows that the school builds strong racial animosity and makes people have more aggressive and negative feelings towards the enemy. However, data analysis also shows that both those who have used other sources to learn history and about Armenia and Armenians and those who have not used other sources, perceive Armenians as the “enemy” and think that they hate Azerbaijanis. Accordingly, other sources amplify negative feelings preserved at school or create new ones.

Accordingly, though the school has a significant role in growing hatred towards the enemy, external sources outside of school also influence and even magnify shaped hatred towards Armenians. Thus, the third hypothesis is partially accepted.

H4: As a result of the state education policy, there is a prevailing negative attitude towards Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan in the Armenian society.

The survey results show that currently negative attitudes prevail in the Armenian society. The data analysis, specifically the correlation analysis showed that school history education has no impact on shaping opinion and attitudes towards Azerbaijanis. The prevailing negative attitudes have not been formed in school. In addition, as data analysis proved other sources of learning history or about Azerbaijanis have impact on the formation of negative attitudes and intolerance towards Azerbaijanis. Accordingly, the fourth hypothesis is rejected as school education has no dominant impact. This fact may also be true because in Armenian schools children start to learn about Azerbaijanis only in the ninth grade, and the curriculum allocates very few topics for learning about Azerbaijan and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This research has shown that the state of Azerbaijan uses history textbooks to create a negative and dehumanized image of Armenians and disseminates that in society. The survey conducted in Azerbaijan discovered that negative attitudes, distrust and intolerance towards Armenians prevail in the Azerbaijani society. As such, the role of history education is shown to be benefitting it. However, other sources for learning history and getting information about Armenia and Armenians have a huger impact on shaping attitudes.

In the case of Armenia, the study revealed that Armenian history textbooks, sponsored by the state, do not play a significant role in creating a negative or dehumanized image of Azerbaijanis. The impact of school history education in the formation of negative attitudes towards Azerbaijanis is slim to none. However, the survey showed that negative feelings and distrust towards Azerbaijanis are dominant in the Armenian society and other sources of information have a higher impact on shaping negative feelings.

As the survey analysis revealed that the impact of other sources of information on the formation of negative attitude towards one another is high, it might be useful to look into the impact of these other sources, using larger samples.

As the survey in both states showed, the vast majority of Azerbaijanis and Armenians, 66.3% and 48.6% respectively, want the hatred between the two societies to be eliminated. The majority of both respondents said that if they were sure that the opponent treats them well, their attitude will also be positive. 54.5% in Azerbaijan and 83.1% in Armenia think that the two nations will be able to coexist together without conflict. Evidently, despite the fact that negative attitudes prevail, there are many people in both societies that are ready to cooperate and communicate, and most people naturally do not want war and want to solve the conflict peacefully. However, the lack of trust towards each other, the dominance of the negative image of one another are obstacles in this regard.

Accordingly, these feelings may be lessened by eliminating the negative images in both societies through more intense and systematic communication. These will make the people of both states know each other and break the rooted stereotypes and the concocted image of the perceived “enemy” and start building mutual trust. Communication can take the form of capacity-building projects between the representatives of the two societies, youth projects in a third country, conflict transformation seminars, and other projects. The peaceful coexistence of the two nations in society level is important in terms of eliminating the rooted hatred and peace-building. As Carl Sandburg wrote in his poem “What if they declare a war and nobody came?” (Sandburg, 1936).

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Appendix 1. List of Documents Used

Armenia

  • Law of the Republic of Armenia on General Education, 2009.
  • The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, July 05, 1995.
  • Ghukasyan, A., 2007, “Armenian History 8-9: Guideline for teachers”, Yerevan: Manmar, Approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia (Ա. Ղուկասյան, “Հայոց Պատմություն 8-9” Ուսուցչի ձեռնարկ, Մանմար, Երևան, 2007, հաստատված է կրթության եվ գիտության նախարարության կողմից)
  • am, 2013, “Criteria, Program and Planning of Armenian History and World History”, http://www.aniedu.am/attachments/school/method_matterials2014-15/patmutyun.pdf (Հայոց Պատմություն և Պատմություն Չափորոշիչ, Ծրագիր, Պլանավորում, 2013).
  • Order 20.01 N39 of the Minister of Education and Science, 2012, “Criteria and Program of Armenian History subject in the secondary school (6-9 grades)”, (Հանրակրթական հիմնական դպրոցի Հայոց Պատմություն առարկայի չափորոշիչ և ծրագիր (6-9-րդ դասարաններ), Հավելված 1, ՀՀ կրթության և գիտության նախարարի 2012թ. 20.01 N39-Ա/Ք հրամանի).
  • Ministry of Education and Science, 2009, “Textbook competition through new mechanism”, http://edu.am/index.php?id=3393&topMenu=-1&menu1=-2&menu2=-1 (Դասագրքերի մրցույթը` նոր մեխանիզմներով, 26-11-2009).
  • am, 2009, “Seven textbooks for high school”, (Յոթ դասագիրք` ավագ դպրոցին).
  • Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, 2009, Order N 752 of the Minister of Education and Science on providing schools with textbooks, publishing textbooks and formation of the committee for the evaluation of the compliance of the textbooks with official education criteria (ՀՀ կրթության և գիտության նախարարի հրաման N 752-Ն, ՀՀ հանրակրթական ուսումնական հաստատությունները դասագրքերով ապահովելու, հանրակրթական առարկաների դասագրքերը հրատարակելու եվ հանրակրթությանպետական չափորոշչին դասագրքերի համապատասխանության գնահատման առարկայական հանձնաժողովների ձեվավորման կարգը հաստատելու մասին).

Azerbaijan

  • Education Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan, December 10, 2002.
  • “Azerbaijani Textbook Policy”, Approved by the executive order Nr.33 of 23 January, 2006, (http://edu.gov.az).
  • “Azerbaijani Textbook Assessment Criteria”, Approved by the executive order on 08.01.2009, (http://edu.gov.az).
  • “General Education Concept (National Curriculum) in Azerbaijan Republic”, approved by decree n 233 issued by Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Republic on October 30, 2006.
  • “Methodological guidelines for working with the text during history lessons 5-11 grades”
  • Teaching Aid “The role of libraries in the education of children in the spirit of patriotism”, 2008, Sumgait, Central Library: Methodological Department
  • “Assessment Concepts for the general education system of the Azerbaijan Republic”, decree of the cabinet of ministries of the Azerbaijan republic on approval of the assessment concepts for the general education system of the Azerbaijan republic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Baku, January 13, 2009, N. 9, edu.gov.az

Appendix 2. List of Tables

Table 1. Words and phrases in the Armenian history textbooks

Table 2. Words and phrases in the Azerbaijani history textbooks

Table 3. Correlation between the positive first impression and knowledge of history

Table 4. Method of learning history v. attitude towards the enemy and approach to resolving the conflict

Table 5. Manner of acquiring history knowledge and view of the enemy

Table 6. Memorizing content of history textbooks v. attitude towards the enemy and approach to resolving conflict

Table 7. First positive impression v. learning history in school

Table 8. Learning history in school v. what should be done with the enemy

Table 9. History knowledge from school and attitudes toward conflict resolution

Table 10. History knowledge from school and attitudes toward the ‘enemy’ and approach to resolving conflict

 

Appendix 3. Survey Questionnaire

  1. Gender
  • Male
  • Female
  1. Age
  • Below 15
  • 15-25
  • 26-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-60
  • Above 60
  1. Residence
  • Capital city
  • Other city
  • Village
  1. Level of Education
  • Kindergarten
  • Secondary school
  • High School
  • Vocational school
  • Bachelor
  • Master
  • Doctorate
  • None
  • Other_______
  1. Occupation
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
  • NGO (Non-governmental Organization)
  • Self-employed
  • Student
  • Unemployed
  • Other___________
  1. Have you received education in Azerbaijan? (If you have left school during this period, write in “other”)
  • Yes
  • No
  • Other________
  1. Your medium grade in school?
    • Bad
    • Satisfactory
    • Medium
    • Good
    • Excellent
  1. Your medium grade on national history in school?
  • Bad
  • Satisfactory
  • Medium
  • Good
  • Excellent

Please, indicate to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates that you totally disagree and 5 indicates that you totally agree

  • I remember what I have learnt in school on history of Azerbaijan/Armenia
  • I know the history of my country very well
  • My current knowledge of history of my country is from what I acquired in school
  • We were learning history of Azerbaijan/Armenia through textbooks in school
  • Our history teacher was giving additional information except of the textbook text
  • We were required to memorize the content of the history textbook by heart
  • We were analyzing and debating the content of each topic in the textbook
  • I have read other books about history of Azerbaijan/Armenia, besides my history textbook
  • I have watched other national history programs or films, besides my history textbook
  • Besides school, I have learnt history of my country from my family
  • I want to learn more about specific events in our history or delve into more detail
  • I have never searched for other sources to learn more about the history of my country
  • I believe in what was/is taught in school
  • I have confidence in our education system
  1. Where have you first learnt about the Nagorno Karabakh conflict?
  • From my family
  • From my friends and acquaintances
  • In school
  • At university
  • Mass media
  • No single source, rather a combination of all of the above
  • I don’t remember
  • Other________
  1. Where have you first learnt about Armenia and Armenians/Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis from?
  • From my family
  • From my friends and acquaintances
  • In school
  • At university
  • Mass Media
  • No single source, rather a combination of all of the above
  • I don’t remember
  • Other (please specify) __________________________________________
  1. When have you first learnt about Armenia and Armenians/ Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis?
  • In pre-school period
  • During my school period
  • After graduating the school
  • I don’t remember
  1. What was your first impression about Armenia and Armenians/ Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • I don’t know Armenians/Azerbaijanis or about Armenia/Azerbaijan that well
  • They are a nation like us
  • Positive impression
  • They are our neighbors
  • They are the ones that we have conflict with
  • They are our enemies
  • They are the ones that we should be wary of
  • They are the ones that we should protect our motherland
  • I am indifferent about Armenia and Armenians/Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis
  1. Has the way you feel about Armenia and Armenians/Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis changed over time?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. If yes, why have it changed? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • I got more knowledge
  • I met an Armenian/Azerbaijani and knowing him/her changed the way I feel
  • The way I see things changed
  • Other_______
  1. Have you ever met or talked to an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • Yes, I have met an Armenian/Azerbaijani
  • Yes, I have talked to an Armenian/Azerbaijani
  • Both
  • None
  1. If yes, where have you met or talked to an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • During an international event
  • During my tourist trip
  • My friend/acquaintance introduced me
  • We were neighbors
  • We have talked by phone
  • We have talked via Internet
  • I don’t remember
  1. Has your opinion about Armenians changed after knowing an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. Would you like to meet and know an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. Why would you like to meet and know an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • To know if I have a right opinion or not
  • To establish business relations
  • You should know well your enemy
  • To harm him/her
  • There is no exact reason
  • Other (please specify) _____________________________
  1. If you meet an Armenian/Azerbaijani, what will be your attitude? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • It would be interesting to know him/her
  • I will be indifferent
  • I think we will become friends
  • If he/she treats me well, I will also treat him/her well
  • I will not trust any Armenian/Azerbaijani
  • I will be cautious
  • I will dislike him/her
  • I will beat or kill him
  • It depends on what kind of person he/she will be
  1. If you know and like someone, but later find out that he/she is an Armenian/ Azerbaijani, how will that change your attitude? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • I will like him/her even more
  • I will start to not trust him/her anymore
  • I will start to be cautious
  • I will start to dislike him/her
  • It will not make any difference for me
  • It depends on the relations we have had before
  • To know him/her will become more interesting
  1. If you choose friends of a foreign origin, which nationality would you rather exclude? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • Georgian
  • Armenian/Azerbaijani
  • Turk
  • Russian
  • Jew
  • Chinese
  • It depends on his/her personal qualities
  • All of above
  • None
  1. Have you or your parents had a neighbor or close Armenian/Azerbaijani family friend?
  • Yes
  • No
  • I don’t know
  1. If yes, would you like to communicate with them?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not so much
  • No
  1. If no, why not?
  • The relations of our state do not allow
  • I don’t trust Armenians/Azerbaijanis any more
  • Much time have passed
  • I am not sure they remember me
  • Other (please specify) ____________________________________
  1. Today, would you live next door to an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, if abroad
  • Yes, if in Azerbaijan/Armenia
  • I don’t know
  1. Would you work with an Armenian/Azerbaijani?
    • Yes
    • No
    • It depends on person
    • I don’t know
  1. Would you marry an Armenian/Azerbaijani if you fall in love with him/her?
  • Yes
  • No
  • I would never love an Armenian/Azerbaijani
  • If I love him/her I will
  • I don’t know
  1. Do you think you have enemies yourself?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  • I don’t know
  1. If yes, who are they? (Rank the answers, starting from the answers more important for you)
  • Those who deceive me personally
  • Those who cause pain to my nation
  • Those who try to take advantage of my kindness
  • Those who are rude to me
  • Those who have once cheated on me
  • Those who don’t like me
  • Those who hate me
  • Those who consider me as their enemy
  1. Do you think your state has enemies?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. If yes, who are they? (Rank the answers, starting from the answers more important for you)
  • Those who are a threat to the state
  • Those who act against the state’s interests
  • Those who would not support our nation or our development
  • Those who have a different religion
  • Those who we have had a war with
  • Those who we have a war with now
  • Those who have caused damage to our country in past
  • Those who consider us their enemy
  1. What do you think should be done to your enemies? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • God will punish them
  • We should negotiate and find common solution
  • We should compromise
  • We should fight against them
  • We should kill them
  • One day they will be our friends
  • We should protect our nation from them
  1. Do you think Armenia and Armenians/Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis are a threat to your country?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you consider Armenia/Azerbaijan an enemy country?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you think Armenians/Azerbaijanis consider Azerbaijanis/Armenians their enemy?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you think Armenians/Azerbaijanis hate Azerbaijanis/Armenians?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. If you were sure that Armenians/Azerbaijanis do not hate Azerbaijanis/Armenians and treat them well, will your attitude change?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. Do you want the hatred between Armenians and Azerbaijanis to be eliminated?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  • There is no hatred
  1. Do you think Armenians and Azerbaijanis would be able to coexist without conflict?
  • Yes
  • A little
  • Neutral
  • Not much
  • No
  1. What is the right way to stop the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan? (Indicate all possible answers)
  • To win the war
  • To destroy the enemy
  • To compromise
  • To find mutually acceptable solutions
  • To follow the advice of international mediators
  • To forget everything and live in peace
  • To establish committees to find the historical truth
  • To follow current state policies

 

[1] Age group sizes are based on Population Census of the Republic of Armenia, 2011 and UN Demographic Yearbook, http://unstats.un.org/,2012



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