Armenian Identity in a Changing World

(ISBN: 1-568-59185-3)
2006 Costa Mesa
406 pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Language(s): English

The 16 chapters and 67 subchapters of the book are composed as the main and the forking paths of different ages and lengths that eventually compose the park/garden of the Armenian identity. This park-identity model is outlined in the Preface. We start with the path that defines the four types of genealogical national trees or models of national-identity formation correlating with the Russian, Armenian, Georgian, and Azerbaijani approaches to history and identity. The second and the third paths discuss the strategies of naming and renaming as a kind of “semiotic nationalism” both in medieval and modern times. The fourth path observes a wide spectrum of language nationalism – from language policies to the “alphabet identity” and cult of translation and books in the present-day Armenia. The focus of the fifth, the musical, path is the r‘abiz musical style, which has grown into a characteristic of social stratification and into an identity factor. The sixth path discusses the many aspects of faith in Armenia, from the adoption of Christianity early in the fourth century to ethnoprotective mechanisms of national survival and modern neo-paganism. In the seventh path, which deals with the tradition-oriented aspects of Armenianness, an Armenian nationalism is supposed to be constructed in early medieval times to be resurrected in 11th-12th and later in 18th-19th centuries. The eighth path tries to reveal the hidden archaic society under the modern rhetoric – both Soviet and post-Soviet. In particular, the imagined and the real Soviet society are discussed in the context of Armenian culture and identity. The next two paths discuss the royal code in Armenia in a wider context of the mythology of Soviet and post-Soviet leaders. The eleventh path discusses the national/social rallies in Yerevan in the late-1980s (the Gharabagh movement) as a kind of festival and tries to make political/cultural predictions on the base of the changes in the social structure before, during, and after this political “festival.” The twelfth path discusses the roots and the development of the Gharabagh conflict in the context of the “culture” of violence in Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is outlined in a wider context of the typology of aggression and national violence in the former USSR. A special forking path also observes the paradoxes of the ecological movement, its development from the fight for clean environment into ethnic cleansings. The thirteenth and fourteenth paths are both discussing memory as nation-sustaining factor. The different aspects of memory activation and manipulation are shown in case studies of such national-identity key symbols as monuments and museums. The last two paths discuss the different aspects of the dispersion of the Armenians: its historical, psychological, cultural, and symbolic manifestations. The last pages are dedicated to the curious “fate” of Armenians (doomed to be on the shifting borderline between East and West), and the cost of being “in between.” The Epilogue sums up this “walk” in the park/garden of Armenian identity, and considers the possibility that it can be transformed either into a blossoming garden or into a dead-ended labyrinth.

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