Reproduction of Armenianness in Diasporic Spaces: A Comparative Analysis of Armenianness in Turkish, Lebanese and British Cases
Ustun, Mustafa Tayfun
Date: 3 August 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Ethno-Political Studies
Ethnicity is one of the powerful concepts in social sciences. It encourages social scientists coming from different academic disciplines to think over its roles, influences and power within communities which are shaped at various level. Particularly in the globalised world, traditional approaches such as primordalism, essentialism or ...
Ethnicity is one of the powerful concepts in social sciences. It encourages social scientists coming from different academic disciplines to think over its roles, influences and power within communities which are shaped at various level. Particularly in the globalised world, traditional approaches such as primordalism, essentialism or instrumentalism have difficulty to provide a powerful framework to understand complexity and power of ethnicity in diasporic spaces which host different identity formations, experiences and cultural hybridisation. Accordingly, these traditional approaches miss differences among human beings who associated themselves with certain ethnicities. For this reason, social scientists tend to understand the concept of ethnicity with alternative approaches. Unlike traditional approaches, social constructionism does not seen ethnicity as fixed, stable homogeneous things. Rather, ethnicities refer to a cognitive process which is shaped by people’s attitudes, perceptions or interactions. Approaching to ethnicity as a cognitive process allows us to go beyond universality and sharp definitions of ethnicity. Also, it emerges out various interpretations in diasporic spaces where ethnicity can be reproduced in various ways. By relying on this theoretical framework, this research seeks to understand the reproduction of Armenianness in diasporic spaces. Through focusing on Turkish, Lebanese and British Armenians, it searches answers for following questions a) What are the components of Armenianness in Turkey, Lebanon and Britain? b) How are the components of Armenianness interpreted in diasporic communities in Turkey, Lebanon and Britain? c) How is Armenianness reproduced among Armenian youngsters in Turkey, Lebanon and Britain? It is hypothesised that Armenianness is not a holistic form, it can be observed as “a patchwork” consisting of various patterns and colours. In order to materialise research aims and goals, the research was supported by field works in Istanbul, Beirut and London between 2011 and 2013. Throughout the data collection period, in-depth interviews, ethnography and participant observation were preferred to not only identify components of Armenianness, but also to create datasets for comparing and analysing the cases. The datasets have been analysed by ANCO-HITS to demonstrate similarities and differences among various reproduction forms of Armenianness in numerical ways. As a result of the ANCO-HITS analysis, Armenianness was ranked in each case according to participants’ scores. Later on, two participants (having the most negative and positive) were introduced through referring findings and fieldwork notes which derived from ethnography. This research shows that Armenianness is observed in various forms. It is highly heterogeneous in diasporic spaces and experienced in different ways. Interpretations of youngsters are varied. It sometimes seems to be ethnic, nationalist, political, moderate or congregational. It also demonstrates that attitudes, perceptions as well as interactions of youngsters with Armenians and non-Armenians can be effective parameters differentiate Armenianness in diasporic spaces.
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