A 'nation in exile': the renewed diaspora of Syrian Armenian repatriates

Marisa Della Gatta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis in 2011, almost a fifth of Syrian Armenians in Syria have fled to Armenia. Most of them are descendants of the Armenian Genocide (1915) victims, who found shelter in Syria a century ago. Contrary to expectations on ethnic repatriation, their displacement and attachment to Syria emerge. The study assesses this peculiar case of the origin and return of a ‘traditionally diasporic’ community by combining models offered by diaspora studies with analysis of qualitative research on Syrian Armenian returnees who fled war-torn Syria. Continuing on the pathway initiated with the ‘Great Repatriation’ of Armenian diasporans to Soviet Armenia of 1946, the return to Armenia is a prolonged trajectory of diasporic displacement. Syrian Armenians returning to Armenia experience a conflict-generated diaspora of diaspora in the supposed homeland of Armenia. Explanations include the dissociation between the imagined Armenian homeland and the legally constituted one in present-day Armenia, and between the latter and the motherland of Syria. This challenges the essentialist account of the Armenian diaspora and, ultimately, the hypothesis surrounding Syrian Armenian marginalization and gradual ‘exit strategy’ in Syrian society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-357
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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