Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fashioning Armenians in Lebanon, 1946–1958
by Nalbantian, Tsolin, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2011, 321; 3451500
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation employs Armenian media sources in Lebanon to track the shifting dynamics of internally and externally constructed identifications of the Armenians in Lebanon from 1946–1958. I describe and analyze the debates that informed evolving conceptions of individual and collective Armenian identity in Lebanon. I focus on the public discourse surrounding four particularly significant episodes in this twelve-year period, the 1946–1949 "Repatriation" Movement to Soviet Armenia, the 1956 Catholicos Elections of the Cilician See (the Catholicos being the highest official of the Armenian Apostolic Church), the 1957 Lebanese Parliamentary Elections, and the 1958 Civil War and its associated intra-Armenian violence. These events generated a vast body of discourse in the Armenian press in Lebanon, much of which featured attempts to produce various constructions of an Armenian identification into the Lebanese public sphere. This study seeks to recover and delineate the space between Armenian and Lebanese nationalist conceptions of identity and the everyday experiences of Armenians in Lebanon.

To expand the boundaries of both Armenian and Lebanese historiographies, I have chosen to profile the series of historical events enumerated above. At first glance, some of these events may appear to be of exclusive concern to Lebanon's Armenian community. As my analysis reveals, however, they throw into relief the interaction of multiple struggles for power between authorities from different nation-states. Yet, these events constituted particular challenges for the Armenian population of Lebanon, forcing them to revisit and reevaluate the issues of homeland, nation, and membership in the national community. The Armenian popular press constitutes the only available source through which we can follow discussions and debates between and Armenians on the boundaries of the nation, the locations of the homeland, and the hypothetical qualities and attributes of "the Armenian." The multiple projections deployed in the press also demonstrate that the concepts of homeland, nation, etc., which the extant historiography assumes were fixed and clearly bounded, actually remained extremely fluid and mutable during this period.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Khalidi, Rashid
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Armenian, Beirut, Lebanon, Newspapers, Parliamentary elections, Repatriation
Publication Number: 3451500
ISBN: 978-1-124-56757-0
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