Contemporary Azeri Autobiographies

In recent years, specially after the Islamic revolution, a number of memoirs and autobiographical accounts have been written by members of Iran's different ethnic groups and regions. The memoirs written by Azerbaijanis, who count perhaps one third of Iran's population, can be divided into two distinct categories: those that are not noticeably different from memoirs and autobiographical accounts written by Iranians in general; and those that are specifically about events in Azerbaijan or, if not written in Azeri, focus on the ethnic, linguistic, cultural characteristic of Azerbaijan and its political and social developments.

The author begins by discussing two autobiographical accounts of the fighting in Tabriz between the Royalists and Constitutionalists during the constitutional revolution at the turn of the century. The memoirs of Seyyed Hasan Taqi Zadeh, Ahmad Kasravi, and Mohammad Sa'ed Maraghe'i, who played a prominent role in Iran's political and literary life in the first half of the 20th century, are also surveyed in the first part of this article.

In the years following the establishment and fall of an autonomous government in Azerbaijan in 1945-46, headed by Seyyed Ja'far Pishevari, a number of its supporters published their memoirs. Most of these memoirs depicting either the events leading to the birth and demise of the Pishevari's government or the personal lives of their authors were published in the Northern Azerbaijan and, along with those published in Iran, constitute a special category within this genre.

Some of the Azari memoirs discussed in this article specifically deal with either the Mosaddeq and oil nationalization period or the political ascendence of the Shah. Part of Gohlam Hoseyn Sa'edi' interview in the Harvard University's Oral History Program as well the reminiscences of Morteza Negahi based on his recent travels to Iran, have also been surveyed by the author.

Hasan Javadi
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