The proliferation of studies in international migration, transnationalism, and diasporas over the past three decades has raised a number of questions, prompting scholars to significantly reconsider former essentialist approaches to communities and identities. If earlier scholars of Armenian studies have often treated the Armenian diaspora as a collection of independent, self-sufficient communities, limiting their studies to mostly descriptive observations, a new generation of scholars has focused on the diversity, flexibility, and context-dependence of diasporic communities, individual lives and identities, as well as on investigating the changing roles and impacts of homelands and homeland-diaspora relations on the ways in which diasporas function.
The 1915 genocide of the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire resulted in an outflow of refugees and survivors; this, combined with the independence acquired on a small piece of the Armenian homeland in 1918, the Sovietization of Armenia in 1920, and the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, created the conditions in which modern and contemporary Armenian diasporas have functioned, embedded in a new era in the history of Armenians. The nature of Armenian diasporic communities, the agendas of diasporic institutions, varying perceptions of the Armenian homeland and the republics of Armenia, intracommunal identities, conflicts and cooperation, and other elements of Armenian diasporic life took shape after the post-Lausanne disappointment, under the influence of changing conditions in host countries and a complex international political context. Conceptions of what diasporas and diasporic identities are, and how they should function, developed heterogeneously in specific diasporic communities, in the homeland, and, more recently, in diaspora studies. This workshop will be dedicated to exploring the competing and sometimes conflicting conceptions of how the Armenian diaspora, with its various communities and identities, has functioned and is functioning in the challenging transnational environment of modernity and globalization as well as in relation to the transformations of the homeland.
This workshop on Armenia and Diaspora 1918-2013 is sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Armenian Studies Program and is organized by Vahe Sahakyan, a graduate student in that Program with faculty advisors, Professors Kevork Bardakjian (University of Michigan) and Khachig Tölölyan (Wesleyan University), and seeks to bring together younger scholars (graduate students engaged in research or those who defended their dissertations in the last three years) who work on diasporas within a variety of disciplines.