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The Armenian Diaspora

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calvo View Drop Down
Chieftain
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    Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 09:18
The Armenians are a people who are dispersed across the globe, and have been so for a century or more.
There are important Amenian communities not only in the Republic of Armenia and neighbouring Georgia, but also in Iran, Lebanon, Greece, France, Toronto, Los Angeles, and even in Jerusalem there is a small community of just 5000.

How have these dispersed Armenian communities managed to maintain their cultural identity for so many generations? By spending so many generations apart, do members of the geographical dispersed Armenian communities (for example, those of L.A. and those of Lebanon) feel any affinity?
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Caliph
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 12:07
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

The Armenians are a people who are dispersed across the globe, and have been so for a century or more.
There are important Amenian communities not only in the Republic of Armenia and neighbouring Georgia, but also in Iran, Lebanon, Greece, France, Toronto, Los Angeles, and even in Jerusalem there is a small community of just 5000.

How have these dispersed Armenian communities managed to maintain their cultural identity for so many generations? By spending so many generations apart, do members of the geographical dispersed Armenian communities (for example, those of L.A. and those of Lebanon) feel any affinity? 

They are one of the "cockroach" nations as I call them (in a positive way). Undying nations of extremely strong tradition that have survived thousands of years. The same applies for other people of the region e.g Assyrians. As for those who claim the modern Armenians are not the Armenians of the old Kindoms, it is typical bullsh*t...

FΑΝΑΚΤΟΥ ΜΙΔΑ ΓΟΝΟΣ
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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The church, once they convert they lose everything connecting them with Armenia and are general outcasted by society forcing them to assimilate (as is the case in Syria where alot did convert).
 
The Hemsins are as Armenians as those of Armenia yet since most of them are muslims and live in Turkey the Dashnak apparently doesn't consider them Armenian since their Turkish leaders aren't invited to Armenian diaspora conferences.
 
Al-Jassas
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calvo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 13:56
Do Armenians only consider someone to be of their nationality if he belongs to the Armenian church?
Are the Armenian-speaking Muslim communities not considered to be Armenian?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 14:19
An Armenian speaking church, the answer is yes as far as I know. Nearly all churches that Armenians profess use Armenian in their liturgy. Armenians have their own catholic and protestant denominations that use Armenian instead of Latin or Greek.
 
As for Armenian speaking muslims, the answer is a little more complicated. From what I know in the Arab world Armenian converts to Islam (and to a lesser extent other non-armenian denominations) are outcasted by their society. This is quite easy because Armenians live in their own villages, their own neighbourhoods, they marry only from within the society and don't be surprised to find a 3rd generation Armenian in Lebanon who doesn't speak Arabic or speaks it with an accent. People who leave the society assimilate quickly and become Arabised.
 
Muslim Armenians (the Hemsins) are a difficult catagory to judge. Despite keeping their language and traditions (which have a lot of christian roots) just like christian Armenians not all Armenians view them as such nor will you find Dashnak loving people among them either. Officially they are Armenian and the Armenian state recognise them but for Armenian activists things are not so since they fought for the wrong side in WWI.
 
Maybe an Armenian Survival will explain better.
 
Al-Jassas
 
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ArmenianSurvival View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2011 at 05:45

Lots of questions and issues to cover. Al laid out some good general information about the church.

 

Armenian diaspora communities are structured around churches, which either double as or branch out into, learning institutions such as Sunday schools, elementary schools, high schools, and even colleges. The church is also an instrument to foster local political organization.

 

Its easy for outsiders as well as for some Armenians to misunderstand the dynamic of the Armenian church in regards to Armenian society. Many Armenians who respect the institution of the Armenian church are not even believers. The importance that most Armenians (including seculars and atheists) place on the church is due to the fact that the Armenian Apostolic church, despite being the oldest living Christian institution in the world, is first and foremost a national and cultural institution. In our church, we have made saints of important figures in Armenian history, mainly those who shaped our culture and defended the nation. The church also uses the now-extinct Classical Armenian language, which is an important relic that connects us closer to the original Indo-European language and to our distant ancestors. Ancient artistic symbols are preserved, some pre-Christian holidays still survive, and our ancient architectural styles are preserved in the church itself. These and other cultural relics help us Armenians keep the connection to our ancestors such as the Urartians, Hurrians, Mitanni, Nairi, and others.

 

Just as important, during times of national crisis, like the Arab invasions, Turkic/Seljuk invasions of the middle ages, and the genocide, the church has been a strong protector of Armenian culture and political organization. So, the church in our societies is a common ground for those interested in theology and spirituality, but more so for those who have more secular and pragmatic concerns like politics and the shape of the local (and global) community.

 

Armenian Protestant and Catholic churches use the Armenian language, and they also have schools in various communities. So even though the Catholic and Protestant institutions are not Armenian in origin, theyre still able to keep a sense of Armenianism through the language. Again, it goes back to cultural preservation.

 

 

 

Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

How have these dispersed Armenian communities managed to maintain their cultural identity for so many generations? By spending so many generations apart, do members of the geographical dispersed Armenian communities (for example, those of L.A. and those of Lebanon) feel any affinity?

 

Theres a long and short answer to this question. Ill keep it short and say that generally Armenians are fine with each other and consider each other of the same nationality no matter where they are from, although cultural differences do exist based on what country each person is from. When I refer to what country each person is from, Im not only talking about any two individuals in question, but also where those individuals parents and grandparents came from, and even where the great-grandparents originally lived on the Armenian Highland. Its not unusual in an Armenian family to have 3-4 consecutive generations grow up in 3-4 different countries, so that can create some interesting habits in regards to the way each family incorporates Armenian culture with whatever foreign influences theyve been exposed to.


But no matter where two Armenians are from, if they are remotely in tune with Armenian culture, theyll have many similarities for sure. Even a lot of behavioral habits and mental tendencies are similar in Armenians who are worlds apart geographically and culturally speaking, even those who are only Armenian by name (assimilated). I personally believe those behavioral and mental tendencies were greatly shaped through thousands of years of exposure to the geographic realities of the Armenian Highland, and passed down genetically and/or behaviorally.

 

 

 

Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

Do Armenians only consider someone to be of their nationality if he belongs to the Armenian church?

 

Not necessarily, but then again pretty much every Armenian is baptized in one church or another.

 

 

 

Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

Are the Armenian-speaking Muslim communities not considered to be Armenian?

 

If youre referring to Hemshins then yes theyre Armenian. They speak a dialect of Armenian, use the Armenian alphabet, and have many customs and traditions which have their roots in ancient and medieval Armenia. 

 

 

 

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

As for Armenian speaking muslims, the answer is a little more complicated. From what I know in the Arab world Armenian converts to Islam (and to a lesser extent other non-armenian denominations) are outcasted by their society.

 

Thats an extremely rare occurrence. But youre right; they would be outcasts if they married a Muslim and had Muslim children. I have no qualms about having those types of people become outcasts in Armenian society... they already showed how much they care about the Armenian community, which is zero. Hemshins get a free pass as far as most Armenians are concerned because they were forced to convert at the pain of death. 

 

 

Originally posted by <SPAN style=COLOR: black> Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Muslim Armenians (the Hemsins) are a difficult catagory to judge. Despite keeping their language and traditions (which have a lot of christian roots) just like christian Armenians…

 

This is true.

 

 

 

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

not all Armenians view them as such nor will you find Dashnak loving people among them either.

 

Thats only partly true; Ive talked to pro-Dashnaks who consider Hemshins to be Armenians.

 

 

 

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Officially they are Armenian and the Armenian state recognise them

 

Also true. I even read a story in 2007 where they talked about a publisher in Armenia who printed Korans in the Armenian language, probably as a means to integrate Hemshins into the worldwide Armenian community. You have to remember that the main reason Hemshins are not active in the diaspora is their geographic isolation and the fact that most of them are not affluent enough to travel outside the country.

 

 

 

Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

but for Armenian activists things are not so since they fought for the wrong side in WWI.

 

No, no, no. They never fought for the Turks against their Armenian brethren. The only reason Hemshin Armenians converted to Islam was so the Young Turks would spare them from the bloodbath. Remember, even though the Young Turks were nationalists, they knew the power of using Islam as a political tool to convince ignorant peasants in the country-side to carry out massacres against "infidels". Many Armenians were given the choice between conversion to Islam or death, and most of them chose death. The Hemshins converted, which is why they still exist. And besides the Hemshins who are mainly situated in Pontus, there are many thousands of crypto-Armenians today who are scattered all around western Armenia, who are openly Muslim since they live under Turkish rule. However, most of them know what their family history is and what their roots are. Some of them secretly pray to Jesus while remaining Muslim in public life, believe it or not.



Edited by ArmenianSurvival - 26 Jan 2011 at 05:49
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