The paper investigates the way architecture has been used in Azerbaijan to reshape post-soviet urban and national identities after the fall of the Soviet Union, and to link Azerbaijani cities to the global networks of capital and tourism. According to Benedict Anderson nations are imagined communities, where the past is being reinvented and narrated in order to accomplish political goals. Architecture clearly plays an important role in this process, providing the physical setting of such narrations. However, both nationalistic discourses and their architectural manifestations are products of their age: in the case of post-soviet Azerbaijan they a very recent products, in which the nationalistic discourse is linked to hyperreal fake urban spaces.
The first section the paper reconstructs the discourse on architecture and identity in Azerbaijan and in Baku, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The second section focuses on Azerbaijani national identity. The third section applies Anderson’s theory on imagined communities, and Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality to the interpretation of some recent urban and architectural developments in Baku and in other Azerbaijan cities. The conclusive section focuses on the urban and social impacts of such developments, which are perceived as distant from Azerbaijan society’s most urgent needs.