The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars

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The Armenians traces the evolution of Armenia and Armenian collective identity from its beginnings to the Armenian nationalist movement over Gharabagh in 1988. Applying theories of national-identity formation and nationalism, Razmik Panossian analyzes different elements of Armenian identity construction and argues that national identity is modern, predominantly subjective, and based on a political sense of belonging. Yet he also acknowledges the crucial role of history, art, literature, religious practice, and commerce in preserving the national memory and shaping the cultural identity of the Armenian people.

Panossian explores a series of landmark events, among them Armenians' first attempts at liberation, the Armenian renaissance of the nineteenth century, the 1915 genocide of the Ottoman Armenians, and Soviet occupation. He shows how these influences led to a "multilocal" evolution of Armenian identity in various places in and outside of Armenia, notably in diasporan communities from India to Venice. Today, these numerous identities contribute to deep divisions and tensions within the Armenian nation, the most profound of which is the cultural divide between Armenians residing in their homeland and those who live in the United States, Canada, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Considering the diversity of this single nation, Panossian questions the theoretical assumption that nationalism must be homogenizing.

Based on extensive research conducted in Armenia and the diaspora, including interviews and translation of Armenian-language sources, The Armenians is an engaging history and an invaluable comparative study.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs - Robert Legvold

Inspired and thoughtful.

The Weekly Standard - Christopher J. Walker

[A] fascinating and important book.

The European Legacy - Leon Torossian

"Panossian's present work...succeeds in conveying the convoluted evolution of Armenian nationalism."

Nationalism and Ethnic Politics - William Safran

A first rate piece of scholarship.

Slavic Review - Levon Chorbajian

Remarkably balanced, empirically sound, and theoretically engaging.

American Historical Review - Ralph M Coury

The most meticulously researched and scholarly study of the development of Armenian national identity ever written.

Foreign Affairs
Inspired and thoughtful.

— Robert Legvold

The Weekly Standard
[A] fascinating and important book.

— Christopher J. Walker

The European Legacy
Panossian's present work...succeeds in conveying the convoluted evolution of Armenian nationalism.

— Leon Torossian

Nationalism and Ethnic Politics
A first rate piece of scholarship.

— William Safran

Slavic Review
Remarkably balanced, empirically sound, and theoretically engaging.

— Levon Chorbajian

American Historical Review
The most meticulously researched and scholarly study of the development of Armenian national identity ever written.

— Ralph M Coury

International Journal of Middle East Studies

The most sophisticated and comprehensive analysis of the development of self-understanding.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231139267
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 492
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Razmik Panossian is the director of programmes and policy at Rights and Democracy in Canada.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. IntroductionTheoretical considerations and definitions

2. The Initial Building Blocks: From the 'Beginning of Time' to the 17th CenturyMyths, kings, Christianity and the Ethnie from Noah to Movses Khorenatsi The next thousand years...

3. Merchants, Diasporan Communities, and Liberation Attempst: the 17th to the 19th CenturyPreparing the Groundwork, I: Merchant communities and diasporan centersPreparing the Groundwork, II: The Mkhitarist brotherhoodPreparing the Groundwork, III: Early attempts at liberation and Russian rule

4. The Multilocal Awakening: The Consolidation and Radicalisation of Colletive Identity in the 19th CenturyThe Multilocal Argument-Language-Literary Culture-Political Ideology

5. Revolutionary Parties and Genocide, Independence and Sovietisation: Late 19th and Early 20th CenturiesNationalism through others: reliance on external forcesThe 'religious' dimension in secular nationlismPolitical and revolutionary organisationsRevolutionary activitiesThe genocideThe independent republic and sovietisation

6. Differing Identities: Soviet Armenians, Diaspora Armenians, 1921-87Dynamics in Soviet ArmeniaCreating a diasporan national identity

7. Strengthening National Identity, Soviet style, 1921-871965: A turning pointThe key factos and mechanisms in building national identityRepatriation and formal Armenia-diaspora relationsStagnation and dissatisfactionIdeology as a game

8. Conclusion: a Multilocal Nation Continues


Columbia University Press

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