The Feel Good Identity

The Feel Good Identity

New insights into third and fourth generation Brazilian-Armenians

For much of the 20th century, the prevailing force shaping the various Armenian organizations that made up diasporan life had been hayabahbanoum — literally, “Armeno-preservation.” Whether it was church, dance troupes, schools, newspapers, or scouts, the main point of such activities was to ensure that Armenians stayed Armenian, meaning the language was spoken, the food was eaten, and young Armenian men and women met and married one another.

Living a life as Armenian as possible, so to speak, was perceived as a duty, coming as it did in the wake of a rich and vibrant culture being almost completely annihilated in 1915. In some sense, this was a natural reaction. How it played out depended a great deal on where a given community ended up. In the case of Brazil, four generations in, the Armenians have become more than just inhabitants in a host country, rather they are fully actualized citizens of a nation, if not citizens of the world.

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The Armenian Genocide, Modern Times & The Surrounding Region

96The Armenian Genocide, Modern Times & The Surrounding Region

“Our hero enlightens himself on a topic that he really should know more about. Lets get educational.

Less lols this week but much more interesting and hopefully y’all can learn something.

As we hear in this episode, I personally, had never heard of the Armenian genocide. But years ago, outside a bar in Berlin – I heard someone reference it. And since then, it has kind of just stayed in my memory without really learning much about it.

Wouldn’t it be great if I had some form of vehicle where I could interview people and learn more about topics that I wanted to learn more about?”

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Անհնար է Սփյուռքի միասնական մարմին ստեղծել | A Unified Diasporan Representation is Unrealistic

Անհնար է Սփյուռքի միասնական մարմին ստեղծել

Վերջերս ՀՀ Սփյուռքի գործերի գլխավոր հանձնակատար Զարեհ Սինանյանը Սիվիլնեթի հետ հարցազրույցում շոշափեց «ամբողջ սփյուռքի միասնական մարմին ունենալու» գաղափարը: Նման միտք անցյալում էլ է հնչել, օրինակ 2010-ին` լոսնաջելեսահայ հայտնի սյունակագիր Հարութ Սասունյանի եւ նախկինում ավելի աշխույժ գիտական խմբակ Policy Forum Armenia-ի կողմից:

Այդ գաղափարն ինչքան էլ արտացոլի ազգային միասնականության զգացմունքը, իրականում բնավ իրատեսական չէ, մի քանի պատճառով:

կարդալ մնացածը

A Unified Diasporan Representation is Unrealistic

In a recent interview with CivilNet, the Republic of Armenia’s High Commissioner for Diasporan Affairs Zareh Sinanyan touched upon the notion of “having a body unifying the entire diaspora”. This idea has come up in the past, such as in a column by the well-known Los Angeles-based writer Harout Sassounian and in a report by Policy Forum Armenia, a formerly more active research group, both back in 2010.

As much as that idea reflects a feeling of national unity, it is not feasible in reality, for a few reasons.

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Making Room

Making Room

An influx of foreign residents and visitors is changing the face of Armenia

A quick walk from Republic Square, an LED sign lights up for a store. The place advertises itself in Armenian, English, Russian, and Farsi. Four languages, four entirely different scripts—a doubly literal and figurative sign of Armenia as a crossroads of cultures with a lively tradition of global trade cutting through borders.

Over the past decade and more, as Armenia and Armenians have reached out to the world for business, education, or tourism, foreigners have been beating a small, steady, and lasting path toward the country. According to the Migration Service of the Republic of Armenia, 18,856 foreign citizens had received temporary, permanent, or special residency status by the end of June, 2019, half of whom were from Russia, Iran, and India, with Syria and the United States trailing not too far behind. The numbers have been a bit erratic over the past five years (see figure), but a recent upward trend is notable.

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The US Congress’ recognition of the Armenian Genocide goes beyond trying to vex Turkey

92The US Congress’ recognition of the Armenian Genocide goes beyond trying to vex Turkey

Amidst all the ruckus over impeachment, Ukraine and whistleblowers at Congress, the House of Representatives took a landmark decision on Tuesday 29 October, to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide.

Various incarnations of the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly by 405-11, have appeared and been shelved on a number of occasions over the past few decades. Pushed forward by Armenian-American advocacy groups with the support of key representatives and senators, it was always countered by lobbying led by the Turkish government, often with the backing of the State Department or the defence establishment.

Although a majority of scholars have long agreed that the experience of the Armenians and other non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War amounts to genocide, the government of Turkey denies that designation, instead describing the massacres and deportations as general wartime catastrophes during which Muslim populations suffered and died as well.

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Armenia, Armenians & Armenian-ness

Episode 44 (1 of 2): Armenia, Armenians & Armenian-ness

In this first half of our two-part conversation with Nareg Seferian we speak about the Armenian Genocide, the modern state of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora, and Armenian identity.

listen to part 1

Episode 45 (2 of 2): Armenia, Armenians & Armenian-ness

In this second half of our two-part conversation with Nareg Seferian we speak about the Armenian Genocide, the modern state of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora, and Armenian identity.

listen to part 2

Book Review: The Dreamt Land

Book Review: The Dreamt Land

The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California
By Mark Arax
2019
576 pp., Knopf
$21.23 hardcover

For two summers in a row, I had the privilege of acting as an interpreter for a team of auditors of an international development organization which was involved in a reservoir and irrigation project in Armenia. My two big memories from that experience were the adage, “Water is life” and how rural individuals and groups in Armenia had it in them to get organized and advocate for themselves in the face of a rather rigid government and a major global donor. It was moving and impressive.

The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax has numerous such tales to share in the continuing saga of “Water is life” across a territory about 15 times the size of Armenia with a history of pipelines, wells, irrigations, dams and claims and counter-claims on land and land use that date back two centuries. The book is in part a history of California told through its management of water and other natural resources and a compilation of investigative reporting pieces, alongside profiles of notable figures past and present. There’s also plenty of social commentary, as well as autobiographical elements. It is a lengthy piece of writing – sometimes disjointed, often very much detailed – but always revolving around the same key question: Who gets to decide what to do with the land and the water in California, how and why?

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Home away from home

Home away from home

Mutig in die neuen Zeiten,
Frei und gläubig sieh uns schreiten,
Arbeitsfroh und hoffnungsreich.
Einig lass in Jubelchören,
Vaterland, dir Treue schwören.
Vielgeliebtes Österreich,
Vielgeliebtes Österreich.

The Austrian national anthem consists of three verses, each ending with a reverential description of the country – much-vaunted Austria, much-tested Austria, much-beloved Austria. The lyrics, composed after WWII, are telling. Austria, situated in the middle of the Continent, had had to re-invent itself as a republic following the fall of the House of Habsburg with the end of the First World War; and within two generations, had again to re-imagine its place in the world, in the aftermath of its wartime Nazi associations.

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Book Review: Mr Five Per Cent

Book Review: Mr Five Per Cent

Mr Five Per Cent: The Many Lives of Calouste Gulbenkian, the World’s Richest Man
Jonathan Conlin
Profile Books, 2019
416 pp.
$24.31 hardcover

As the title suggests, there is more than one Calouste Gulbenkian portrayed in this comprehensive biography by Jonathan Conlin. Two in particular stand out: Calouste the indefatigable man of business and Calouste the Armenian, who belongs to everywhere and to nowhere. For both and more, Conlin has put together a revelatory piece of writing, having gained access to the archives at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, among a broad variety of other sources. Combined with his adept skills as a historian and storyteller, Conlin’s work makes for engaging reading. (Some disclosure: I had the privilege and pleasure of assisting with archival research for this book.)

As far as the first Calouste goes, this book offers a detailed account of the life and efforts of a remarkable and influential man whose actions informed key aspects of the world’s economy in the 20th century. The development of the oil industry and the financial practices and networks associated with it owe a great deal to Gulbenkian, as does the shaping of commerce between the Western world’s powers and other regions at a time when European colonial empires were being challenged by a rising United States and an upstart Soviet Union.

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From “Intervention” to “Protection”: The Power of Discourse in International Affairs

Paper for a course on theories of power and policy (Chad Levinson)

From “Intervention” to “Protection”: The Power of Discourse in International Affairs

What is the relationship between discourse and power? Once an issue makes it to the agenda, how do its framing and the specific terms used to discuss it influence policy outcomes?

This paper will attempt at providing an overview of how discourse relates to power dynamics in international affairs by taking up in particular the concept of the responsibility to protect or “R2P” and how discourse on intervention preceding it shifted in the 20th century. Continue reading