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Sossie Kasbarian

Abstract

Post-genocide Armenian diasporic communities are historically structured around the same diaspora institutions which act as transmitters of traditional identity. Broadly speaking these are: the Churches, schools, the political parties and their offshoots (clubs, associations, media, youth groups, cultural groups etc). These transmitters effectively create and control the infrastructure and ‘public space’ of the diaspora community, espousing what is often in substance a prescriptive ‘Armenianness’. The linear, fixed versions of ‘Armenianness’ represented and perpetuated by the leaders and elites ‘from above’ tend to alienate various groups of people, whose voices are marginalised and not represented in the official, hegemonic history and identity of the diaspora or the community. This paper focusses on four distinct groups of Armenian Cypriot and Lebanese individuals (identified as the Dislocated, the Assimilated, the Outsider and the Disillusioned) and makes substantial use of ethnographic interviews in order to allow these authentic voices to be heard. The findings reveal that the voices from below or from the side-lines are gaining legitimacy and influence through dynamic dialectical encounters with the host state structures, the transnation and the homeland, being rooted and routed in alternative new spaces and possibilities carved out by the process of globalisation.

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Keywords

diaspora, Cyprus, Armenians, Lebanon, identity, community

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