Memories Don’t Burn: Soviet Censorship and the Azerbaijani Bard

American Research Institute of the South Caucasus in cooperation with Azerbaijan State Culture and Art University invites you to the presentation

Memories Don’t Burn: Soviet Censorship and the Azerbaijani Bard

by Anna Oldfield, ARISC Fellow, Coastal Carolina University

Venue: 2nd floor, 39 Inshaatchilar Ave., ASCAU
Date: 23 May, 2019
Time: 2:00 PM

Overview: In written literature, defiance of censorship in the USSR took many forms, such as coded language and underground publishing. This presentation considers epic singing in Soviet Azerbaijan to examine how ashiq bards were able to evade, fool, or defy mechanisms of state censorship. During the presentation we will look at how ashiqs expected to be “national in form, socialist in content” kept alternative histories alive and engaged in coded public conversation on censored subjects such as religion and cultural repression. By examining how ashiq bards in Soviet Azerbaijan worked with, around, and in defiance of censorship, we can better understand the role of culture as alternative dialogue, even in powerful states.

Lecturer’s bio: Anna Oldfield has been working with musical folklore and epic singing in Azerbaijan since 2004.  She has held Fulbright grants in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and continues to work in and write about the region. Oldfield is active in cultural exchange initiatives such as with the British Library, the Azerbaijani Sound Archive, Smithsonian Folkways, and most recently the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus. Oldfield teaches World Literature as an Associate Professor at Coastal Carolina University.

* This event is free and open to the public. ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran.

** Funding for this fellowship is provided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a grant to the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC).

For additional information, please contact us at