Doctoral Research Proposal

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Doctoral Research Proposal
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
Bibliography
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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30
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31
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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32
Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
35
Doctoral Research Proposal
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik
Memory and the Politics of Construction of the Armenian Homeland
Submitted to:
The Doctoral School in Sociology and Social Research
University of Trento
Submitted by:
Turgut Kerem Tuncel (MA)
Address: Via Melpansada, 90
38123 Trento, Italy
Phone: +39 389 1298147
E–mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
1) Statement of the Problem1
The terrible events of 1915; the Armenian Genocide according to Armenians, and intercommunal strife and the relocation of Armenians according to Turks2, while dramatically
altering the demographic structure of Anatolia, determined the destiny not only of the
generation which lived through this tragedy, but also of later generations.
First, although Armenian Diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient diasporas (see for
instance, Sheffer, 2003), formation of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora was principally
an outcome of the 1915 tragedy. In that sense, this tragedy can be conceptualized as the
“objective constitutive moment” of the contemporary Armenian Diaspora3. Second, even a
brief survey of the literary works, internet websites, newspapers, journals, academic
publications and commemorative events reveals that the tragedy of 1915 is the “chosen
trauma”4 of the Armenian people, which has been the formative component of the Armenian
1
Mayr Hayastan Im Hairenik in Armenian literally means “Mother Armenia My Fatherland”. In the popular
Armenian nationalist discourse, today’s Armenia is referred to as Mayr Hayastan (Mother Armenia). On the
other side, the so-called historical (greater) Armenia, expanding roughly from the Caspian Sea in the East to
Cilicia in the West is referred to as Hairenik (Fatherland). For the maps of the so-called historical (greater)
Armenia, Western (Ottoman) Armenia, Soviet Armenia and today’s Armenia see appendix 1. See, also footnote
11.
Note that the maps of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia and Western (Ottoman) Armenia are just
approximate and different versions can be found in different sources.
Although in the Armenian historiography the so-called historical (greater) Armenia is presented as the territory
occupied by the Armenian King Tigran the Great’s (95-55 BCE) Kingdom, it is a construct that refers to the
aggregate of all the territories that ancient Armenian kingdoms had ever occupied. In other words, no Armenian
state has ever occupied the so-called historical (greater) Armenia at once alone. Alternatively, the so-called
historical (greater) Armenia can also be thought as the geography that Armenian communities had lived through
out the history approximately until 1920s.
Western (Ottoman) Armenia is a geographical name used by Armenians to denote the provinces that Armenians
were living within the Ottoman Empire. Note that much of the so-called historical (greater) Armenia overlaps
with Western (Ottoman) Armenia.
2
Surely, there are Armenians and Turks who interpret the events of 1915 in different ways. Therefore, it may be
misleading to talk about a monolithic Armenian and a monolithic Turkish view. Here, my aim is to point out the
hegemonic discourses among Armenians and Turks rather than implying a concurrence.
3
Today Armenian worldwide population is estimated at around ten million, only three million of which is living
within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Although, the remaining seven million also includes temporary
migrants, who cannot be conceptualized as diasporic, Diaspora constitutes the large majority of the Armenians
living outside of Armenia. Therefore, it is safe to argue that Diaspora Armenians constitute the majority of the
worldwide
Armenian
population.
For
the
Armenian
population
worldwide
see,
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 12.10.2010)
4
Chosen trauma is a psychoanalytical concept developed primarily by Vamık Volkan. Volkan (1999, 46) defines
chosen trauma as follow: “Chosen trauma refers to the mental representation of an event that has caused a large
group to face drastic losses, feel helpless and victimized by another group, and share a humiliating injury… I
believe that it reflects a group's unconscious "choice" to add a past generation's mental representation of an event
to its own identity. A chosen trauma is linked to the past generation's inability to mourn losses after experiencing
a shared traumatic event, and indicates the group's failure to reverse narcissistic injury and humiliation (Volkan,
1991, 1992, 1997; Volkan & Itzkowitz 1993, 1994).
1
collective memory both in Armenia and Diaspora5. Hence, the 1915 tragedy has been both the
objective (physical dispersion of Armenians from their homeland) and the subjective (the
trauma consequent to the 1915 tragedy that was culminated in the Armenian collective
memory) condition which brought about the transformation of the Armenian diasporic
identity into its contemporary form6.
Analytically, but not categorically, subjective condition of the emergence of the contemporary
Armenian diasporic identity, i.e., the resultant trauma of the 1915 tragedy and its culmination
in the collective memory, can be divided into two constituent components; “the loss of the
people” and “the loss of the homeland”. While the 1915 tragedy resulted in the perishing of
indefinite number of souls7, it also meant the almost total erasure of the Armenian presence in
the historical homeland. Consequently, the collective memory of the 1915 tragedy, diverse
from that of the Jewish Holocaust for example, has always had a constituent component of
“the lost homeland”8.
Although each individual in a traumatized large group has his or her own unique identity and personal reaction
to trauma, all members share the mental representations of the tragedies that have befallen the group. Their
injured self-images associated with the mental representation of the shared traumatic event are "deposited" into
the developing self-representation of children in the next generation as if these children will be able to mourn the
loss or reverse the humiliation. Such depositing constitutes an intergenerational transmission of trauma. If the
children cannot deal with what is deposited in them, they, as adults, will in turn pass the mental representation of
the event to the next generation”.
5
For example, Lorne Shirinian (1990) through an analysis of the Armenian-North American literature argues
that Genocide is the common theme in this literature.
6
Ramik Panossian (2006, 242) puts it, ““The genocide itself (including its denial) became the defining moment –
the founding ‘moment’ – of contemporary Armenian identity. Post-1915 Armenians, particularly in the diaspora,
saw themselves as ‘the first Christian nation’ and ‘the first victims of genocide in the twentieth century’”.
7
The number of the human looses of the 1915 tragedy is a point of dispute among historians. While official
Turkish historians tend to assert smaller numbers between 300.000 and 500.000, Armenian historians tend to
magnify this number. Other than that, it can be clearly observed that each passing day Armenian historians and
public figures argue for a greater number of looses. Accordingly, while once it was 1.000.000, today some talk
about 2.000.000 souls.
8
During an interview, as a part of the a field research I conducted in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, between
16 September-1 October 2008, Tigran Mkrtychyan, an analyst and staff of the European Stability initiative made
a comparison between the Armenian and the Jewish cases that explicated the dimension of “the lost homeland”
in the Armenian collective memory. During the interview Mkrtychyan said:
“We lost our forefathers and also fatherland. Jews only lost people in Europe and
after Holocaust they returned to homeland. We lost everything.”
The fetishization of Mount Ararat, Lake Van, City of Ani that remain within the border of Republic of Turkey
can be argued to be the result of the trauma of the loss of the homeland. What Artsvi Bakhcinyan (artist &
philologist), a well-known figure among the Armenian artistic community said during an interview during the
same field research well illustrates the fetishization of the “the lost homeland”.
2
The establishment of the third (independent) Armenian Republic, The Republic of Armenia,
on 21 September 1991 after a sequence of events that began in 1988, opened up a new phase
in the Armenian history9; except for the existence of the independent Democratic Republic of
Armenian between 1918 and 1920, Armenians gained an independent state after more than
600 years10. The opening of this new phase in the Armenian history brought about both
opportunities and challenges to the Armenian world. Among various opportunities and
challenges that Armenians face, attempts targeting the discursive re-construction of the
homeland of diasporan Armenians as the territory occupied by the young Republic of
Armenia are interesting and of crucial importance for their theoretical and political
implications and outcomes11.
On this account, investigating the attempts of discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia by various political and civil
society actors in the Republic of Armenia and diaspora, and the resultant tensions and
struggles, while demonstrating some currently emerging relations between states and
“I cannot visit Western Armenia. I am not ready for that. This would be an emotional
shock for me…even if my ancestors are from there and I have always dreamed about
Van… Akhtamar…I have been thinking about Lake Van since my childhood. I have
always wanted to have a Van cat. I have always wanted to own a house by the Lake
Van. But I am not ready emotionally. I cannot stand seeing the portrait of Mustafa
Kemal at Akhtamar…Going to a place that you know everything about…Seeing no
trace of the Armenian culture…being in my country and being a foreigner
there…Seeing Armenian converts there would wound me.”
9
These events are the devastating earthquake in Soviet Armenia in 1988, the kick-off of the Karabakh
movement and its transformation into a full fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan between 1988 and
1994, and the collapse of the USSR.
10
The last sovereign Armenian state before 1918 was the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1199-1375). For the
geographical location of the Kingdom of Cilicia see the map of the historical (greater) Armenia in Appendix 1.
11
As a matter of fact, the great majority of the diasporan Armenians are the descendents of the Eastern Anatolian
Armenians. Eastern Anatolia is today’s Eastern Turkey. By the eighteen century, Armenian world was divided
into two between Western (Ottoman) Armenia (e.g., Eastern Anatolia or today’s Eastern Turkey) and Eastern
(Russian) Armenia (today’s Armenia and Southern Caucasus) which resulted in two culturally diverse Armenian
populations. This separation even resulted in the emergence of two Armenian dialects known as Western and
Eastern Armenian. Therefore, in objective terms the homeland of majority of diaspora Armenians is Eastern
Anatolia (Eastern Turkey; Western Armenia), not Eastern Armenia (Southern Caucasus or the territory occupied
by the Republic of Armenia). Moreover, as mentioned above Eastern Anatolia has remained as the homeland in
the diasporic Armenian collective memory through out the twentieth century. For example, the Armenian
nationalist Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization ASALA’s (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of
Armenia; founded in Lebanon; active between 1975-1986 in Turkey, USA, Western Europe and the Middle
East) main goals were to compel Turkey to recognize “the Armenian Genocide” and liberate the “Turkishoccupied Western Armenia”.
3
diasporas in the global politics, and, what I call, de-territorial nation building, would also
constitute an illustrative case study for the collision of history, memory, ideology and politics.
2) Review of the Relevant Literature
The research I propose would follow two literatures: the literature on diaspora studies, and the
literature on collective memory.
2-1) Literature on Diaspora Studies
Diaspora, an ancient Greek word, which above all had been used to define the scattering of
the Jewish communities, gained popularity by late 1960s and attracted a revived interest in
1990s (see, Brubaker 2005; Phil Cohen,1999).
The expansion of the diaspora literature by the 1990s is correlated to the amplification of
translocal networks consequent to globalization process(es). Translocality refers to formations
and relations, which are neither limited to social, political or economic relations that structure
the local nor locked up by the local space itself. In other words, translocal networks are not
confined “within the inside”. Given that in the modern era, “the inside” is ultimately defined
by the borders of the nation-states, translocal networks necessarily refer to formations and
relations that are not confined by the borders of the nation states. Mandaville’s definition of
translocal politics helps to understand what is meant by translocality.
…I prefer to speak of translocal politics rather than, for example,
‘transnational’ politics in order to make the point that it is often the
hegemony of the territorially cohesive nation-state which is challenged
by these politics. These are people and processes which do more than
operate across or between the boundaries and borders of nations;
rather, they actively question the nature and limits of these boundaries
by practising forms of political identity which, while located in
geographical space, do not depend on the limits of territory to define
the limits of their politics…Thus locality, in the sense of a locatedness
within geographical space, is still crucial for understanding the forms
and meanings of political identity — hence my emphasis on
translocality. This trend suggests, however, that territory in its classic
sense — which I understand as a sphere delimited by the exclusive
jurisdiction of a particular political hegemony — may no longer
constitute the primary space of the political (Mandaville 2000).
Besides this background, specific reasons of the recent boom in diaspora studies can be
identified. First, the failure of the modernist expectation of minority groups’ assimilation into
the wider society led to an epistemological break and motivated social scientists towards a
4
search for new paradigms (Anteby-Yemini and Berthomiere 2005). Second, ethno-national
clashes during and after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc attracted scholars to the field of
ethnicity and nationalism studies. In this process, the term diaspora was also recognized and
used as an illustrative term (Sheffer 2002, 197). Third, the readiness of new nation states to
intervene into ethno-national conflicts in favor of their co-ethnies living in other countries
added a new impetus to the discussion (see, King and Melvin, 1999-2000). Fourth, the
growing hegemony of the human rights discourse and political liberalization legitimized
diasporic groups and enabled them to voice their affinity to their kin groups and/or kin states
(see, Sheffer, 2002). Fifth, nation-states, particularly the peripheral states of the Global South,
began utilizing their kin diasporas’ lobbying activities in the influential host countries to
initiate policies which would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et
al., 1994). Last but not least, the increasing interest in “new hybrid identity formations” as an
effect of global flows directed the attention of many scholars to diasporas. In general, the
concept of diaspora was glorified as it was seen as the loci of formation of heterogeneous,
diverse and hybrid identities challenging the homogenous, essentialist and “pure” identities
intended by nation-states (see, for instance, Appadurai and Breckenridge, 1989; Boyarin and
Boyarin 1993; Gilroy 1987: 1993; Hall 1990; Mercer 1988).
The volume of the literature on diasporas correlates to the increasing recognition that
diasporas receive in terms of their role in the global culture, economy and politics. As the
literature on diasporas expands, sub-literatures also emerge with different conceptualizations,
diverse approaches and research agendas. For example, Vertovec (1997), outlines three
general meanings of ‘diaspora’ which have emerged in the literature as 1) diapora as a social
form, 2) diaspora as type of consciousness, and 3) diaspora as mode of cultural production.
Mishra (2006) categorizes diaspora studies into three as those which focus on 1) dualterritoriality, 2) situational laterality, and 3) archival specificity. Nonetheless, two main and
rival approaches can be identified within diaspora studies.
First, there are studies conducted from within the postmodern paradigm12. Postmodern
scholarship regards diasporas as the exemplars of the evaporation of all sorts of boundaries
and borders and the flourishing of hybrid and fluid identities in the global era. Consequent to
this understanding, “being here and there simultaneously”, “rootlesness”, “routes rather than
12
Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabba, Paul Gilroy and James Clifford can be distinguished as the pioneers of the
postmodern scholarship on diasporas (see, Baumann, 2000, 324)
5
roots”, “disputing the essentialist ethno-national identities that are associated to the nationstates” are the reoccurring themes and emphases in this scholarship. Stuart Hall’s definition of
the diaspora below illustrates the postmodern understanding of diaspora.
Diaspora does not refer to those scattered tribes whose identity can
only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they
must to all costs return. This is the old, the imperializing, the
homogenizing form of “ethnicity”.... the diaspora experience as I
intend it here is defined not by essence or purity, but by the
recognition of a necessary heterogenity and diversity; by a conception
of identity which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by
hyridity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing
and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and
differences (Hall 1990, 235).
Criticisms can be directed to postmodern diaspora studies from different angles. First of all,
postmodern diaspora studies are grounded on and reproducing a perception of duality between
so-called fixed, exclusionary, essentialist, homogenizing ethno-national identities fostered by
nation-states, and fluid, hybrid heterogeneous diasporic identities. However, such dichotomy
is indeed itself essentialist as it attributes fixed characteristics to nation-states and diasporas,
which results in sightlessness to the transformations that ethno-national identities and nationstates undergo. Secondly, postmodern scholars’ conceptualization of diasporas as hybrid,
heterogeneous and fluid are not consistent with facts as many studies has displayed that
indeed it is often diasporas that re-produce the essentialist ethno-national consciousness and
ideologies (see for instance, Skrbis 1999). Lastly, as Fredrik Barth shows in his edited volume
Ethnic Groups and Boundaries : The Social Organization of Culture Difference (1969), with
respect to ethno-national imagination cultural changes and transformations are not necessarily
followed by the eradication of the boundaries between groups. In other words, hybrid cultures
may flourish but this does not inevitably transform into hybridization of identities. Therefore,
cultural flows and interactions may result in similar ethno-national cultures, yet, as long as
ethno-national imagination persists, hybridization of the cultures does not accomplish any
political significance.
The second approach in diaspora studies can be labeled as socio-political diaspora studies.
Socio-political diaspora studies reflect on diasporas as sociological formations within the
context of the global capitalism and in relation to nation-states as the major, but not
uncontested, actors in the global capitalist system. International migration, political-economy,
6
and political science and international relations are the three main academic fields that
approach to the question of diasporas from this angle.
Socio-political studies often attempt to define the characteristics of diasporas as sociological
formations. William Safran (1991, 83-84), for example, points out the following six
characteristics of diasporas to construct a Weberian ideal type of a diaspora.
1) They, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from an original
“centre” to two or more foreign regions;
2) They retain a collective memory, vision or myth about their original
homeland including its location, history and achievements;
3) They believe they are not-and perhaps can never be- fully accepted
in their host societies and so remain partly seperate;
4) Their ancestral home is idealized and it is thought that, when
conditions are favorable, either they, or their descendants should
return;
5) They believe all members of the diaspora should be committed to
the maintenance or restoration of the original homeland and to its
safety and prosperity; and
6) They continue in various ways to relate to that homeland and their
ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are in an important way
defined by the existence of such a relationship.
Likewise, Robin Cohen (1997, 26), inspired by Safran, suggest a nine-item list as the
following:
1) Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or
more foreign regions;
2) Alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in
pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3) A collective memory and myth about the homeland including its
location, history and achievements;
4) An idealization of the putative ancestral home and collective
commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity,
even to its creation;
5) The development of a return movement which gains collective
approbation;
6) A strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and
based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in
the common fate;
7) A troubled relationship with host societies suggesting a lack of
acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might
befall the group;
8) A sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other
countries of settlement; and
9) The possibility of a distinctive yet creative and enriching life in host
countries with a tolerance for pluralism.
7
Both Safran and Cohen highlight the theme of homeland as one of the major aspects of
diasporas as sociological formations. Physical dispersion from the homeland, mystification of
the homeland in the minds of the diasporic individuals through collective memory and myths,
the construction of the “us” on the idea of the common homeland are the points that the idea
of homeland turns central for the formation of diasporas. In brief, what distinguishes diaspora
as a sociological formation from other sociological categories such as minority, native,
migrant etc. is the centrality of the idea of homeland. Baumann (2000, 327), explicates this
point as the following:
...the relational facts of a perpetual recollecting identification with a
fictious or far away existent geographic territory and its culturalreligious traditions are taken as diaspora constitutive. If this
identificational recollection or binding, expressed in symbolic or
material ways, is missing, a situation and social form shall not be
called “diasporic”. Importantly, a diasporic colouring” or dimesion is
not a quality per se, but a nominalistic assignment attributed by the
scholar or the member of the diaspora community.
Last but not least, Gabriel Sheffer provides the most sounding definition of diaspora within
the socio-political approach as the following:
An ethno-national diaspora is a social-political formation, created as a
result of either voluntary or forced migration, whose members regard
themselves as of the same ethno-national origin and who permanently
reside as minorities in one or several host countries. Members of such
entities maintain regular or occasional contacts with what they regard
as their homeland and with individuals and groups of the same
background residing in other countries. Based on aggregate decisions
to settle permanently in host countries, but to maintain a common
identity, diasporans identify as such, showing solidarity with their
group and their entire nation, and they organize and are active in the
cultural, social, economic, and political spheres. Among their various
activities, members of such diasporas establish trans-state networks
that reflect complex relationships among the diasporas, their host
countries, their homelands, and international actors (Sheffer 2003, 9).
In Sheffer’s definition, the adjective ethno-national is accommodating for pointing out a
central yet sometimes overlooked characteristic of diasporas; diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. Diaspora is eventually an entity, the members of which imagine themselves
within a broader yet particular ethno-national collectivity. However, as mentioned above, as
the postmodern scholarship started to celebrate the term diaspora in opposition to the terms
that they consider as essentialist, fixed, and hegemonizing, the inevitable ethno-national
component of this term became less emphasized. Besides adding the prefix ethno-national,
8
Sheffer also points out the fact that the term diaspora suggests a certain level of ethno-national
solidarity. This observation is important because of revealing the fact that diasporas are not
only “in themselves”, that is not just an empirical social reality, but also “for themselves”,
which means diasporas are potentially active and conscious actors. Adjacent to calling for
attention to the manifest ethno-national characteristic of diasporas, Sheffer also highlights
their trans-state nature as a corrective to a conceptual confusion in the literature13. Besides
these, Sheffer also implies the homeland as one of the central aspects of the term diaspora.
As a matter of fact, ethno-national diasporas typically seek to establish real or virtual contacts
with the homeland. Likewise, as mentioned above, homelands, too, often seek to establish
such links. Yet, the characteristics of the real or virtual diaspora-homeland contacts differ for
diverse reasons. Similarly, it is wrong to expect permanent companionate relations between
diasporas and homelands. Rather, diaspora-homeland contacts are often composed of ups and
downs, and structured by different and contradictory motivations and goals on the side of both
diaspora and the homeland in different conjunctures.
Nation-states seek to establish contacts with their kin-diasporas, and, at times, actively
advocate their interests for a combination of idealistic and instrumental reasons. The idealistic
reasons surface from the ethno-nationalist ideology and narratives in the public and political
spheres that are largely a function of the ethno-national discourse. On the other side,
instrumental reasons are the incentives of the nation-states to utilize their kin-diaspora’s own
resources or its lobbying activities in the influential host countries to initiate policies which
would yield economic and political returns (see, for instance, Basch et al., 1994).
Similarly, both idealistic and instrumental reasons motivate diasporas to seek establishing ties
with the homeland. The myth of (return) to the homeland is one of the characteristic features
of the ethno-national diasporas, which is both a reason and a result of perceiving the
homeland as a mystical heaven. Such psycho-social inclination becomes more salient when
life conditions are arduous and social problems such as discrimination and exclusion are faced
13
For the translocal nature of diasporas, the term diaspora is often used interchangeably with the term
transnationalism. Transnationalism is a term that is generated by adding the prefix “trans” in front of the word
“nationalism”. “Trans” is a Latin prefix that means "across", “over”, "beyond" or "on the opposite”. Therefore,
transnationalism refers to an entity that is over and beyond the nation. However, diaspora is ultimately an ethnonational category. For this reason it is a mistake in the literature to use the term transnationalism interchangeably
with the term diaspora
9
in the host country. As a consequence, a drive to establish contacts with the homeland
intrinsically surfaces among many ethno-national diasporas. Such drive intensifies whenever
diasporic actors perceive a security threat to the homeland (see Shain and Barth 2003, 454457). In addition to these, one of the most cardinal concerns of diasporic communities is the
preservation of ethno-national identity in face of the perceived danger of assimilation. Most
often than not, diasporic elite perceive mobilization of the diasporic community around the
homeland related matters as an effective way to keep the diasporic community intact and
preserve the ethno-national identity (see, Shain 2002, 279).
As regards to the instrumental reasons, Patterson (2006, 1897) claims “in a world where
ethnicity matters, there is a material interest in having one’s ethnic group elevated in the
world’s hierarchy” and adds “the hierarchically ranked status of a nation in some ways reflect
the hierarchically ranked status of its diaspora in the United States” (1891) and vice versa
(Henry, 1999; Hewitt 2000, in Patterson 2006, 1893). Similarly, Shain and Barth (2003; 454457) argue diasporic actors seek to have an influence on homelands as they believe the
foreign policy of the homeland has effects on the interests of all the constituent elements of
the ethno-nation both in and outside of the homeland with respect to ethno-national identity,
solidarity and ethnic kinship sentiments, preservation of the ethno-national heritage and
economic matters14.
Gillespie et. al. (1999) argue while altruistic impulses may also become a factor, it is the
prospect of having an “ethnic advantage” that motivates diasporic actors to make economic
investment in the homeland. Economic investment, in return, is likely to result in a deeper
engagement with extra-economic homeland affairs. Similarly, certain diasporic groups may
engage in homeland affairs to pursue their own particular interests and political agendas in the
diaspora (Shain and Barth 2003). Last but not least, the literature on international migration
reveals sub-ethno-national kinship and family networks constructed on the bases of both
psycho-social and instrumental motivations may have a more than expected cumulative effect
on diaspora-homeland connections (see, Schiller & Fouron 1998; Smart&Smart 1998).
Although the will of the diasporic and homeland actors is crucial establishing real or virtual
diaspora-homeland contacts, literature mentions several factors as the determinants of the
14
Note that Shain and Barth do not make a categorical distinction between identity related issues and economic
matters.
10
effectiveness of those contacts. The organizational strength of the diaspora is one of those
factors. Simply put it, the wider and deeper organized the diaspora, the more effective ties
between it and the homeland (Laguerre 1999; Shain and Barth 2003). As an external
dimension, the socio-political context of the host country significantly affects the
organizational strength of the ethno-national diaspora (see, Shain 2002, 279; Sheffer 2003;
2002). Definitely, homeland’s institutional infrastructure is also another factor in diaspora and
homeland relations. Unless homeland has functioning institutions, constructing effective links
with diaspora cannot be achieved, no matter how organized the diaspora is. Although not in
absolute terms, the willingness of the homeland for establishing ties with the kin-diaspora is
what determines the building of the proper institutional infrastructure for diaspora-homeland
relations.
Diasporas may also have indirect influence on the homelands through the foreign policies of
the host countries vis-à-vis homelands. By means of lobbying, diasporas may aim to orient the
foreign policy of their host country with respect to the homeland. Such an indirect influence is
contingent upon the openness of the host country’s political system to the influences of the
interest groups and the status of the diasporic group in the socio-political sphere in the host
country (Shain 2002). Lastly, diasporas may engage in lobbying activities targeting supranational bodies such as United Nations or European Union to have an indirect influence on
their homelands.
2-2) Literature on Collective Memory
Similar to the literature on diaspora studies, literature on collective memory, too, has been
proliferating since 1990s and such expansion brings about points of controversy and different
approaches to collective memory15. One of the main approaches in collective memory
15
With respect to controversies, first, terminological confusion can be mentioned. Different scholars coin
different terms to define fairly the same phenomenon in order to highlight slight differences in their
conceptualizations. Consequently, the literature is overwhelmed by terms such as social memory, collective
memory, collective remembrance, popular history making, myth and cultural memory etc. (see respectively,
Fentress and Wickham, 1992; Winter and Sivan, 1999; Rosenzweig and Thelen, 1998; Gedi and Elam, 1996;
Assmann, 1995; 2001). On the other hand, although collective memory and other terms in the same family are
widely used in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political science, social memory remains
underconceptualized, which leads to theoretical and methodological contradictions and confusions (see,
Kansteiner, 2002). Secondly, the debate over the discrepancy between history and memory is another
contentious matter. While scholars, such as Nora (1989; 1997), Yerushalmi (1989) and Halbwachs (1980) make
a categorical distinction between memory and history, other scholars such as, Novick (1988), Veyne (1984) and
White (1973) criticize such a strict separation by questioning the objectivity claim of history as a science (see,
also, Bakic-Hayden, 2004; Burke, 1989; Hutton, 1993; Iggers, 1997). Thirdly, as a consequence of such
underconceptualization the debate on the proper loci of focus of colective memory studies can be mentioned.
11
scholarship is the approach that is sustained by the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship.
The presentist school of collective memory scholarship is primarily concerned with the
relationship between memory and (socio) politics. Put differently, the main emphasis of the
presentist school is the relationship between collective memory and social, political, cultural,
economic context of the remembering. The motto of the presentist school is that collective
memory is a construct of the present-day rather than the unmediated recollection of the past.
Presentist scholars stress that content of the collective memory transforms contingent to
social, political, cultural, economic characteristics of the historical era. Consequently,
presentist studies focus on the relationship between the emerging collective memor(ies) and
the socio-historical context.
Misztal (2003, 56-61) argues Hobsbawm and Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition is the
inspiration of the presentist school. In this volume Hobsbawm (2006, 12) argues invented
traditions target at 1) social coherence and sense of group belonging, 2) legitimization of the
existing institutions and the relations of status and authority relations, and 3) socialization,
instilment and transmission of beliefs and value judgments. In fact, these three are the
functions that presentist scholars attribute to social memory.
While focusing on the construction of the collective memory, presentist social memory
studies highlight the politico-ideological functions of social memory. Furthermore, majority
of the studies conducted from within the presentist perspective considers the emergence of
collective memory as a construction process consciously carried out by three different (socio)
political actors, namely, 1) the states, 2) the elite, 3) the non-elites. Those studies which draw
attention to the states as the primary memory agents often reflect on educational institutions,
state radio and televisions, cultural policies that are possessed or controlled by the states as
Scholars such as Assmann (2001), Funkestein (1993), Nora (1989: 1997), Schudson (1994), Terdiman (1993),
and in a more nuanced way Olick (1999) regard collective memory as a system of signs, symbols, and meanings
stored in monuments, museums, archives and texts, which following Nora (1989; 1997) can be called “sites of
memory”, and claim these artifacts are the loci of the social memory. On the other hand, scholars such as
Confino (1997), Crane (1997, Fentress and Wickham (1992), Kansteiner (2002), Klein (2000), Schwartz and
Schuman (2005), by arguing that the only carriers of memory are individuals, highlight the problem of reception
of what had already been stored in artifacts by individuals. However, as it can be observed, for example in
Schwartz and Schuman’s (2005) article, the heavy emphasis on the individual actors undermines the
“collectivity” of memory and reduces collective memory to what can be called ‘collected memory’ of
individuals.
12
the tools for memory construction (see, for instance, Carrier 2002; Gur-Ze’ev 2001). These
state-centric studies focus either on the domestic socio-politics or on the international politics,
or both (see, for instance, Herf 1997; Zerubavel 1995; Ram 2000). Especially those studies
which refer to international politics expand the scope of collective memory studies and reveal
the wide-range of the factors that make an impact on the construction of the collective
memories. However, state-centric studies, by putting the emphasis on the states and macro
politics usually neglect the minor memory agents and the struggles going on among those
agents, and between those agents and the states. The second set of memory actors is the elite.
It is argued that by virtue of having access to and control over the resources in a society, elite
posses a considerable advantage in asserting their preferred version of collective memory (see
for instance, Funck and Malinowski 2002; Wiesen 2002). Thirdly, studies that employ terms
like counter-memory, public-memory, unofficial memory etc., which can be named as popular
memory studies, point out the non-elite as the memory agents and mention the below-to-top
processes. One important advantage of the popular memory studies is their higher
receptiveness to different memory agents in their analyses. Consequently, more complex
accounts of memory construction processes, often including struggles, can be found in these
studies. Furthermore, popular memory studies are more disposed to acknowledge the
possibility of existence of multiple memories in a single society (see for instance, Todorova
2004)
Approaching the processes of collective memory construction from a conflictual-dynamic
perspective necessarily leads one to “the politics of memory” or, to use Canefe’s (2004, 80)
term, “chronopolitics” (see, Mizstal 2003, 64-66; also see Confino 1997, 1393-1395 for
struggles over construction of the past). Chronopolitics refers to “the elements of choice,
negotiation and contestation that come into play for the ultimate determination of what is
remembered”16. The contribution of the literature on chronopolitics is to seek answers to the
questions, collective memory ‘by whom’, ‘for whom’, ‘against whom’, ‘for what’, ‘against
what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘where’. Lastly, this literature can be un-categorically
divided into two as those studies focusing on high-politics and international context and those
studies which put the emphasis on the “domestic” conditions. Yet, it goes without saying that
this distinction is an oversimplification, and must not lead to ignorance to the ultimate
16
Fraizer’s (1999) “memory as praxis” is also another term which nicely signifies the politics of memory
13
inseparability of the two. Yet, for analytical purposes such categorization might be helpful
given that one keeps in mind the disclaimer.
Either through focusing on the memory agents or the ipso facto processes, presentist school of
collective memory scholarship touches upon the (socio) political aspects of collective
memory. Accordingly, by means of revealing that “past” is never past per se, but a product of
the present, a result of the conflicts and struggle of the contemporary (socio) political actors,
presentist school makes significant contributions to our understanding of the memory
construction processes. However, presentist school is not sheltered against criticisms. The
sternest criticism to presentist school might be that it has a politico-ideological reductionist
core17. That is to say, presentist school, at the final analysis, tends to equate memory to
ideology and reduces it to false consciousness. Mizstal (2003, 60-61), rightly argues presentist
school bears this problem as a consequence of its focus on the conscious, planed, informed
practices of the memory agents, and ignorance of the psychological, social, linguistic, and
political processes which are beyond the control of the memory agents, yet have an influence
on the memory construction processes. Mizstal (2003, 60) justifies her argument by posing
the question why some of the constructions of the past done by the politically powerful actors
gain acceptance by the society, whereas some do not. Consequently, Mizstal (2003, 61)
concludes politico-ideological reductionist and functionalist analyses of memory are stricken
by serious limitation. It can be claimed that Mizstal’s criticism holds stronger especially for
state-centric presentist studies, while popular memory studies, as they focus on the struggles
among memory agents, may advance some answers to Mizstal. Yet, popular memory studies,
too, are restricted by politico-ideological and functionalist perspective and not enough
considerate to the factors beyond the (socio) political ones (Mizstal 2003, 67). However, to
make justice to the presentist school it has to be admitted that presentist studies, which are
attentive to the ipso facto processes of collective memory construction are more receptive to
psychological, social, linguistic, and political processes beyond the control of memory agents,
yet do not openly put attention on those factors in their analysis.
Secondly, presentist school often fails to distinguish ideology and interpretation, and do not
question if collective memories are always constructed according to ideological perspectives
of the memory agents, or collective memories are constructed in a certain way because
17
As an example of the politico-ideological reductionist studies see Achugar (2008).
14
memory agents interpret the past in a certain way. In other words, the question is to what
extent memories are constructed from an ideological standpoint and to what extent memory
agents construct memories without any conscious ideological purposes? Is it all ideology or
does it include some unconscious and/or apolitical processes on the side of the memory
agents? Are the differences in constructed memories results of ideological differences or of
different interpretations?
Apart from points vulnerable to criticisms, presentist school provides important insights into
the collective memory research. First, as I demonstrated above, some presentist studies bring
high politics and international context in the research agenda. This is an important
contribution to the sociological literature on memory for bringing new perspectives and
widening the horizon of the sociological discipline. Secondly, as different presentist studies
focus on different memory agents, their interrelations, as well as ipso facto processes, they
provide insights on multi-level and multiple collective memories in a single society. Lastly,
those presentist studies, which focus on multiple memory agents and the memory-struggles
among these agents reveal the fact that all memory construction processes are also the
processes of memory destruction. As new collective memories are constructed, the already
existing ones are modified or eradicated completely. Moreover, the powerful memory agents
while implementing their preferred memories in the social life, denies the same thing to other
memory agents. What presentists rightly suggest, therefore, is to examine the social memory
processes as a sequence of construction, deconstruction, destruction and reconstruction.
3) Objective of the Research
All through the twenty years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, there have been de
jure and de facto attempts of both the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia to establish links
between each other. On the side of the Republic of Armenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
organized various Pan-Armenian events including Armenia-Diaspora Conferences in 1999,
2002, 2006 to strengthen and prosecute relations with the diaspora. Hayastan All-Armenian
Fund was established in 1992 to ensure, sustain, and regulate diaspora’s financial aid. To
promote intellectual and academic exchanges between diaspora and Armenia, Department of
Armenian Diaspora and Communities was founded within the Institute of History at the
National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan18. Dual Citizenship legislation that targets
18
The roots of the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Communities go back to the Department of History of
the USSR and the Republics of People Democracy that was founded in 1959. Later the name of the department
15
Armenians in diaspora was passed in 200719. On the same tract, a separate Ministry of
Diaspora Affairs was established in 200820. Apart from these de-jure initiatives, several
diasporans were invited to Armenia to hold important positions21. On the side of the diaspora,
traditional Armenian diaspora political parties and organizations22 have lunched various
initiatives to provide economical support and political advice to Armenia (Policy Forum
Armenia, 2010).
On the concrete/practical level, all these efforts target establishing ties between the Armenian
diaspora and the Republic of Armenia mainly to canalize the economic and political support
of the diaspora to Armenia23. However, on a more abstract/theoretical level the very same
efforts can be unserstood as the practices targeting the construction of, what I call, “deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation”. Interesting enough, through out the construction of the deterritorial Armenian ethno-nation an implicit process of re-territorialization is going on as the
territory of the Republic of Armenia is defined as the homeland of diasporan Armenians,
was changed to the Department of Armenian Diaspora and Historical Relations. Finally, the recent name was
adopted.
19
Dual Citizenship legislation was signed into law in March 2007 2007. Accordingly, individuals of Armenian
descent aged 18 and higher, who have inhabited permanently in Armenia for three years, speak Armenian, and
are familiar with the constitution are eligible for obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia. Voting
rights, military service, and taxation are the most controversial aspects of this legislation. Although Dual
Citizenhip legislation was put to force with hopes to attract diaspora’s economic, political and human capital to
Armenia, until now there have been no sign of fulfillment of these expectations. Moreover, the relevant
regulations for application to the Dual Citizenship have not yet been made clear by the Republic of Armenia.
20
Prior to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of the
relations with diaspora. Last but not least, the fact that The National Security Strategy of Armenia mentions
diaspora as an important factor for the national security is an example of the perceived significance of the
diaspora on the side of the Republic of Armenia.
21
Gerard Libaridian (Armenian-American; University Professor; 1991-1997, adviser and then senior adviser to
the former President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian; 1993-1994 first Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs),
Raffi Hovhannisian (Armenian-American; repatriate; 1991-1992 first Minister of Foreign Affairs; since 2005
chairman of the Heritage Party in Armenia), Sebouh Tashjian (Armenian-American; 1993-1995 State Minister of
Energy), Vardan Oskanian (Armenian-Syrian; 1998-2008 Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the most well-known
diasporans who held the most important positions in Armenia.
22
The three traditional Armenian diaspora political parties are Social Democratic Hunchakian Party, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutyun, and the Armenian Democratic League (the Ramkavar-Azadagan
Party). Today, Social Democratic Hunchakian Party is just a minor party, whereas the other two, particularly
Dashnaksutyun, are active both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian General Benevolence Union (headquarter in New York, USA; worldwide offices), Armenian
Assembly of America (USA), Armenian National Committee of America (USA), European Armenian
Federation (Brussels) are the important diaspora organizations among numerous others.
23
It is interesting to note that whereas until the late 1980s Soviet Armenia had been perceived as the party that
sustain and support diaspora, after 1988, diaspora was encumbered to support the young Republic of Armenia
economically and politically (Policy Forum Armenia, 2010).
16
which contradicts both historical facts and the century-long sedimented collective memory of
the diasporic Armenian communities.
On this background, 1) rejecting the premises of the postmodern approach to diasporas for the
reasons mentioned above, 2) adapting the general agenda of the socio-political diaspora
studies, and 3) adjusting the framework of the presentist school of collective memory
scholarship, this study aims to problematize the re-definition of the homeland of the diasporan
Armenians as the territory of the Republic of Armenia and explore:
1) the ways in which the homeland has been constructed discursively since the 1990s by
different political and social actors.
2) the tensions that this discursive construction creates in relation to collective memory of the
diasporic Armenian communities and among different socio-political actors in the Armenian
world.
3) the discursive strategies of different socio-political actors in diaspora and Armenia to
master these tensions.
4) Methodology
This research aims to explore the discursive re-construction of the homeland of diasporan
Armenians. Hence, the re-construction process will be approached as a discursive practice.
Discursive aspects of the re-construction of the homeland will be the focus of the study.
Public discourses of the socio-political actors circulated via the internet will be the primary
sources of data. Critical discourse analysis will inform the method of data analysis.
4.1) The Data
Four main actors which are engaged in the discursive construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians can be identified as:
1) The State of the Republic of Armenia
2) Political parties in Armenia
3) Civil society organizations in Armenia
4) Diaspora communal organizations in diaspora.
Accordingly, public discourses (newsletters, booklets, articles, texts, visual materials, public
statements etc.) produced by these actors and circulated via the internet will be the data of this
study.
17
Public discourses circulated via internet are certainly the easiest to access for the individuals
all over the world. Through internet, say, a housewife in New York and a businessman in
New Delhi may have access to the same material at the same time. Hence, for the globally
dispersed diasporas like the Armenian diaspora, internet is an indispensible means of
communication and the materials broadcasted in the internet websites are much more
accessible and influential than the locally-published hard-copy materials in the global level.
Moreover, recently many hard-copy materials are transformed into soft-copies and
broadcasted in the internet. For these reasons, public discourses circulated via the internet will
be employed as the data in this research24.
Having defined four main actors, it is needed to indicate the specific organizations and
institutions that are most relevant to the discursive re-construction of the homeland of
diasporan Armenians. Below, specific organizations and institutions are listed.
The State of the Republic of Armenia:
1) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2) Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
3) Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (semi-governmental)
Major political parties in the Republic of Armenia:
1) Republican Party of Armenia (Nationalist-conservative)
2) Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Radical nationalist)
3) Heritage Party (Liberal)
4) Armenian National Congress (Oppositional catch-all party)
Major NGO, think-tanks and foundations in the Republic of Armenia:
1) International Center for Human Development
2) Center for Proposing Non-Traditional Conflict Resolution Methods
3) Armenian International Policy Research Group
4) Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives
24
Scholars of diaspora and transnationalism often mention the advances in communication and transportation
technologies as the factors facilitating diasporic/transnational networking. For some studies on diaspora and
internet see Bernal (2006), Brinkerhoff (2009), Hiller and Franz (2004), Horst (2002), Ignacio (2005), Parham
(2004).
18
5) Caucasus Institute
6) Civilitas Foundation
7) Analytical Center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation
8) Armenian Center for National and International Studies
9) Modus Vivendi
10) Ararat Center for Strategic Research
11) Genocide Museum-Institute
12) Noravank Foundation
Major diasporic political and advocacy organizations25:
1) Armenian National Committee of America
2) Armenian Assembly of America
3) Armenian General Benevolence Union
25
To achieve an analytical understanding, it is necessary to distinguish sections and layers of the contemporary
Armenian Diaspora. Basically, the contemporary Armenian diaspora can be grouped into layers in terms of the
period of diasporization, and into sections in terms of the country of residence.
In terms of the period of diasporization, Armenian Diaspora can be layered into three, i.e., pre-modern, modern
and late-modern. Pre-modern diasporization of Armenians can be dated back to the downfall of the Bagratuni
Dynasty in 11th century. By this century, Armenians began to scatter to today’s Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and
Cilicia region in Turkey. Modern Armenian Diaspora, which was flourished mainly in North and South
Americas, Middle East and some European countries, was an offshoot the 1915 tragedy. The establishment of
the independent Armenia in 1991 marks the birth of the incipient late-modern Armenian Diaspora. With respect
to layer of the Armenian Diaspora, one important point to be retained is that different layers often coexist in a
single diasporic setting as a result of continuous diasporization and re-diasporization processes.
In terms of country of residence Armenian Diaspora is truly widespread. Poetically, yet realistically, it can be
argued that large and small, mature and incipient, vibrant and stagnant, Armenian Diaspora is dispersed from
Calcutta to California, all around the world. As regards to sections of the Armenian Diaspora, it has to be noted
that in every historical epoch one or more locations gain and/or loose importance. It is also worth mentioning
that in a single historical epoch intense migrations of Diaspora Armenians from one diasporic location to another
can be observed. For example, the civil-war in Lebanon resulted in emigration of Lebanese Armenians to
Western countries, as a result of which Armenian communities in the West expanded while once the cultural and
political center of the Armenian Diaspora, Lebanon, lost its centrality.
Although, Armenian diaspora communities in the Russian Federation and Europe, which are proliferating as a
consequence of the post-independence emigration from Armenia, are gaining importance for their rising cultural,
economic, and political hegemony. Armenian diaspora communities, which flourished between the midnineteenth century and the 1920s in the USA continue to be the most vocal and politically most effective
sections of the Armenian Diaspora. For these reasons, this study mainly focuses on the Armenian diaspora in the
USA.
19
Diasporic organizations with a specific agenda to foster diaspora-homeland relations:
1) Birthright Armenia
2) Armenian Volunteer Corps
3) Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
4) Armenian Youth Federation
5) Christian Youth Mission to Armenia
6) Diaspora Armenia-Connection
7) Fund for Armenian Relief
8) The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia
9) Land and Culture Organization
Besides the websites of these organizations, the following Armenian newspapers and
magazines, which broadcast in internet will be scanned and relevant news and articles will
also be included in the data.
1) Arka News Agency (http://www.arka.am/eng/)
2) Armenia Liberty (http://www.armenialiberty.org/)
3) ArmeniaNow (http://www.armenianow.com/)
4) Armenpress (http://www.armenpress.am/)
5) Asbarez News (http://asbarez.com/)
6) Armtown (http://www.armtown.com/)
7) Azg Armenian Daily (http://www.azg.am/EN/)
8) Aysor (http://www.aysor.am/en/)
9) A1+ (http://www.a1plus.am/en)
10) Hetq Online (http://hetq.am/en/)
11) Lragir (http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/home.html)
12) Noyan Tapan (http://www.nt.am/news.php?p=1&h=1&l=l0&LangID=1)
13) Panorama.am (http://www.panorama.am/en/)
14) The Armenian Mirror-Spectator (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/)
15) The Armenian Reporter (http://www.reporter.am/)
16) The Armenian Weekly (http://www.armenianweekly.com/
17) Yerkir (http://www.yerkir.am/home/)
20
4.1.2) The Secondary Support Data
The analysis of the discourses produced and circulated by the above mentioned institutions
and organizations will reveal the answers of the questions of this research. Yet, to gain a
deeper understanding, interviews with the representatives of these organizations will be used
as the secondary support data.
There are different types of interviewing such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured,
narrative, non-directive, clinical etc. (see, for instance, Corbetta 2003). In this research semistructured interviews will be conducted. While the main theme of semi-structured interviews,
i.e., discursive construction of the homeland, will remain the same, order of the topics,
wording of the questions, points to be emphasized will not necessarily be the same in all
interviews. Rather, these will be determined separately for each interview after analyzing the
main data. By this way, the case-specific points will be grasped better as the interviews will
be adapted to each single case.
The process of semi-structured interviews will consist of six steps as follows:
1) Contacting the interviewees: From the websites of the institutions and organizations,
contact information of the representatives of these institutions and organizations will be found
and interview requests will be sent via email. For this purpose, the PhD board of the Doctoral
School in Sociology and Social Research at the Faculty of Sociology in the University of
Trento will be asked to send official letters to the prospective interviewees in the name of the
researcher in order to facilitate the interviews. Besides, personal contacts will be activated to
reach the prospective interviewees26.
2) Interviews: Semi-structured interviews will consist of two phases. The first phase will be
the interview itself. During this phase, interview will be type-recorded. The second phase will
consist of an informal conversation after turning off the type-recorder. During this informal
conversation questions about the delicate points that appear in the data and the interviews will
be raised. Although the type-recorder will be turned off, researcher will take notes during this
step.
26
Upon request names, institutional affiliations, and contact information of the personal contacts can be
provided.
21
3) Transcription: The type-recorded semi-structured interviews will be transcribed into a
written text27.
Besides, general rules of interviewing will be followed during the semi-structured interviews
such as reflective note taking to use later on to be correlated with data gathered through the
semi-structured interviews. Field notes will also be utilized as support data. Whenever
needed, proceeding interviews will be conducted with the same informants.
4.2) Data Analysis
Step 1) Analysis of the Discourses: The analysis of the discourses gathered from the websites
of the above mentioned institutions and organizations will be informed by Siegfried Jager’s
approach to critical discourse analysis. Jager’s approach involves exploration of the below
aspects of a given text (Meyer, 2001, 25)28.
1) the kind and form of argumentation.
2) certain argumentation strategies.
3) the intrinsic logic and composition of texts.
4) implications and insinuations that are implicit in some way.
5) the collective symbolism or `figurativeness', symbolism, metaphorism,
and so on both in language and in graphic contexts (statistics,
photographs, pictures, caricatures and so on).
6) idioms, sayings, clichés, vocabulary and style.
7) actors (persons, pronominal structure).
8) references, for example to (the) science(s).
9) particulars on the sources of knowledge, and so on.
27
There is a broad agreement on the constructed and interpretive nature of transcription, although this matter is
mostly ignored in the empirical studies. Alas, there are no concrete and universally recognized transcription
techniques, but just families of general guidelines. Therefore, researchers have to construct their own technique
of transcription with respect to their research objectives. Therefore, I will decide the appropriate level of
detailing of the transcription with respect to my purposes in this research. For perspectives on transcription see,
Atkinson and Heritage (1984), Grumperz and Berenz (1993), Langford (1994). See also, Davidson (2009) for
working with transcribers.
28
It is commonly acknowledged that no discourse analysis method or approach is/can be “The discourse
analysis method or approach”. Discourse analysis manuals unanimously stress that discourse analysts have to
adopt the already existing/used methods and/or approaches of/to discourse analysis to their own data. In other
words, each discourse analytic research has to develop its own discourse analytic method after getting
acquainted with the data. For this reason, it is not realistic to pre-determine the exact method/approach of/to
analysis before taking the data in hand. Accordingly, it has to be underlined that Jager’s approach will be utilized
as a framework, not as the exact method of discourse analysis.
22
Step 2) Comparison of the Discourses: The results of the analyses of the discourses will be
compared in order to arrive at an understanding of the similarities, differences, and internal
and external tensions within and among the discourses. This will help to build discourse
typologies and to unveil which actors construct what kind of discourses. Secondly, displaying
the internal tensions within discourses is likely to provide insights on the contradictions
arising from the negation between ideology and politics (i.e., de-territorial nation building
through “re-territorialization” of the homeland), and memory (i.e., the centuries-long
sedimented collective memory of Armenians). Lastly, revealing the external tensions among
discourses will unmask the “politics of memory” (i.e., diverse constructions of the homeland
by different socio-political actors and the struggles among them).
4.3) Conclusion of the Research
To finalize the research, findings of the analysis will be contextualized in order to provide
insights into social, political and historical factors behind specific discursive strategies of
different socio-political actors and the struggles among them in re-constructing the homeland
of the diasporan Armenians, which will constitute the final argument of the research.
As a general rule, following the assertions of humanist and feminist researchers that
researcher is a subjective and interested actor rather than an impartial or detached observer
and the debates on “situatedness of the researcher”, in each step of the research, it will be
made clear how interpretations and meanings are placed on findings (see, for instance,
Hammersley 2000, Plummer 1983, Stanley & Wise 1993).
5) Proposed Contributions of the Research
This research aims to contribute the literature in several ways. First, although Armenian
diaspora is acknowledged as one of the ancient and prototypical diasporas, there are few
academic studies on Armenian diaspora in English language. Furthermore, majority of the
existing studies are historical studies focusing on the formation of the modern Armenian
diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in addition to few ethnographic
studies. However both historical and ethnographic studies are, at best, a little more than
descriptive. That is to say, these studies do not relate their findings to substantial theoretical
problems nor do they link those to wider socio-political issues. For these reasons, their
contribution to social sciences remains limited. Lastly, especially those studies conducted by
23
Armenian and Turkish scholars are often highly biased that hardly fulfill the
academic/scientific requirements of minimal objectivity in the Weberian sense.
This research focuses on the post-1991 Armenian diaspora. To the best of my knowledge,
there are no book-length studies on post-1991 Armenian diaspora. Therefore, focusing on the
contemporary Armenian diaspora per se is likely to be a contribution to the literature for its
empirical content.
Secondly, this study is not a descriptive ethnography. Quite the opposite, it is a theoreticallydriven research and aims to contribute to the theoretical literature at the end. In specific, this
research aims to contribute to the theoretical literature on 1) construction of (ethno-national
diasporic) identities, 2) diaspora-homeland relations, 3) de-territorial nation-building, 4)
territoriality and national identities, and 5) collective memory. Accordingly, this study targets
not only the students of Armenian Studies but also the students of sociology and political
science, in general, and students of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity,
diasporas, and collective memory, in specific, as its readers.
Thirdly, with respect to the collective memory literature, this study aspires to contribute to the
presentist school of collective memory scholarship with its focus on the case of Armenian
diaspora and complex relations among history, memory, ideology and politics. Furthermore,
by exploring the actual processes of memory construction, deconstruction, destruction and
reconstruction, current study hopes to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of
ethno-national conflicts wholly or partially rooted in (traumatic) historical legacies, such as
the Bosnian War or the recent problems arising in Baltic countries between the ethnic
Russians and Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians.
Fourthly, as this research is informed by the highly theoretical and abstract critical discourse
analysis in its method, it seeks to provide to this literature an empirical application of its
premises.
24
Lastly, Armenian Diaspora emerges as a powerful actor vis-à-vis the Republic of Armenia29.
Therefore, Diaspora appears to be an important non-state actor in the prospect of ArmenianTurkish reconciliation. Since, “the retrieve of the lost homeland” is one of the issues that has
been uttered by the Diaspora as a latent pre-condition of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation,
understanding the transformations in the perceptions of the homeland would help to develop
middle and long term policies both by Armenia and Turkey.
29
The power of the Diaspora vis-à-vis Armenia results from the economic and political vulnerability of the
Republic of Armenia, political strength and efficiency, and economic prosperity of some sections of Armenian
Diaspora, and thirdly, the advantage of of being hosted by the powerful countries.
25
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German Society and Culture, Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche (eds), Urbana and
Chicago, University of Illinois Press, pp. 196-213.
Winter, Jay and Emmanuel Sivan. 1999. War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yerushalmi, Yosef H.. 1989. Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory. Seattle: University
of Washington Press.
Zerubavel, Yael. 1995. Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli
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Internet sources:
http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html (last access 21.06.2009).
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Appendix I)
Map of the so-called Historical (Greater) Armenia
Map of Western (Ottoman) Armenia
33
Map of Soviet Armenia
Map of the Republic of Armenia
34
Appendix II)
Tentative Time Table of the Course of the Doctoral Research (upon completion of the
first year of the doctoral program-approximately the last 23 months)
A) Desk Research (Total 3-4 months-already underway)
1) Finalizing the draft of the theoretical and methodological chapters.
2) Review of the previous research and written materials on the Armenian Diaspora and
Armenia.
B) Data Collection and Analysis (Total 12-14 months)
3) Analysis of the discourses produced by the above mentioned institutions and organizations
and broadcasted in internet.
4) Conducting the semi-structured interviews.
5) Analysis of the semi-structured interviews.
6) Comparison of the results of discourse analyses.
C) Finalization of the Dissertation and Defense (Total 4-5 months)
7) Completing the final version of the dissertation and defense.
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