Petrol Prayers: Gas Station Prayer-houses and National Identity in Azerbaijan

Michael J. Ernst, ARISC Fellow, PhD student, Temple University

November 30, 2022, 7:00-8:30 PM Baku time

Overview: This talk will look at gas station prayer-houses in the Azerbaijan Republic.  Along several of the highways in Azerbaijan are to be found rest stops focused around the gas station, often with a small prayer-house attached for Muslims to pray namaz.  These prayer-houses help to illustrate one of the different, and sometimes competing, national narratives in Azerbaijan, that is to say a new, cultural narrative that focuses on Azeri culture and Islam as the majority ethnic group and religion, while still positing Azerbaijan as a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional country. 

Speaker: Michael J. Ernst is a Ph.D. student at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art where he studies Islamic Art History. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s work at the University of Pennsylvania in History and Middle East & Islamic Studies. Ernst’s research focuses on contemporary Islamic visual culture in the former Soviet Union, especially the Caucasus and Central Asia.

This event is sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). Lectures are free and open to the public. Learn more at

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, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.