An Overview of the Infamous Armenian Genocide

Categories: Armenian Genocide

Armenian, American, Korean, Filipino, African American, Japanese, and Italian. No matter whether one has traveled, read about in books, or had face to face interaction, it is clear that each group has their unique and rich culture. It is in the different activities, traditions, and cultural gatherings that the old generations have attempted (most of the time successfully) to teach and pass down their culture to upcoming new generations. Yet, in the case of Armenian youth, many find themselves taking part of Armenian Genocide protests, and hunger strikes just for the sake of authenticating and being part of the Armenian community.

Many of these youth are not there for the cause; they are there to socialize and to, prove. Nee that they are true Armenians that have not forgotten about their dark past. It is indeed a fact, that Armenian history has been a reoccurring cycle of bloodshed, war, and diaspora. Fortunately, even with the abundance of these horrific events, the natives of the country and their distant relatives in other foreign countries have stuck together to rebuild the country and to keep the rich culture alive.

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In more recent days, I have found myself taking active rolls in protests and marches to get the Turkish government as well as the American government to recognize that genocide did indeed occur in 1915. I know that my intentions and passion are pure and real, but I consistently find myself surrounded by teenagers and young adults that differ on how they care about the cause and the preservation of the Armenian culture.

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In moments that should be serious, I find certain individuals laughing and fooling around. It is due to my observations as an observer and active participant that I make my claims. Although, I know that I carry with me a personal cultural bias in judging my own people, I try to distance myself and take a more critical approach in order to truly try to comprehend the intentions and actions of other members of the Armenian community. They may know about what their ancestors have suffered, but I still question whether they truly care. In trying to find the answers to the questions that I ask myself in my head, I went about and conducted interviews with a few participants at the 8 mile march that was taken on March 24, 2007 from Costa Mesa, California to Westminster, California.

In conducting my interviews, my positionality was affected by the relationships I had with each individual. By this mean, that my observations and conclusions were impacted by the existing relationships between the observer (me) and the participants (the people who I interviewed). In addition to, my ability to further relate to each participant, and my verbal interaction with each subject served as a form of expressing the fact that entering the anthropological field is indeed an intersubjective matter. Yet, most importantly, it is not a matter of when and how the research was done, but rather how it was all brought together to create the final document. It is this use of thick description, rather than thin description that allows each reader to get a full 360 ‘N” look at the construction and representation of the authentic Armenian identity. With the subjects chosen for my study, I received a variety of responses to some open ended questions that would allow me to gain a deeper understanding about the topic.

In all my interviews, the first question I asked was, What makes you Armenian? -, No. The most interesting response I received was from a 16 year old boy named Shahan who was quick to respond, – l am Armenian because I eat Armenian food, I go to Armenian Church, and because I hang out with Armenians. No Although I wanted to interject, I knew that I was there to discover the reasons as to what he thought defined an Armenian. I thought to myself, eating a certain type of food does not define what culture you belong to. In other words, the people one associates with, and the cuisine one enjoys dining on does not necessarily authenticate or provide ones racial identity. For example, I love eating Italian food and I have numerous Asian friends, but does that make me an Italian or an Asian. Moving on to my next subject, I approached a 21 year old girl Talar and asked her the same question. After a very long moment of silence and a look on her face as if I were some freak of nature, she responded, I am Armenian because I speak the language, and date Armenian guys. No Once again, I received a similar response. If the languages I spoke defined or authenticated the ethnic group 1 belonged to, then I would consider myself to be a Mexican, American, Lebanese, Armenian, and Russian.

In Talar&,cs case, I observed a typical Armenian young adult who really was lost in what identified her as an Armenian; there was no reference to her lineage or even the slightest hint to the pain that her ancestors suffered. Next on my long list of questions, I looked to answer the question of identity construction and the definition of Armenian authenticity. When asking Shahan the question, What to you defines Armenian authenticity? Noe he responded: This question is very complex, and I really donâ,ct know the correct answer, if there even is one. There are many factors that combine to define an Armenian. Yet, most of the things that authenticate Armenian culture, or even any other culture, are in reality only stereotypes. For example, Armenians listen to Armenian music, they all like to cheat the government, they are stubborn, and most importantly they live in small apartments but drive expensive cars. These are some of the things that authenticate an Armenian, and serve as criteria Noe to be considered a, true No Armenian, responses seemed humorous at first, but seemed to follow with the same perception that many Armenians that I stereotypes and go find themselves authentian culture is like any on other words, ality traits, the people find themselves slate to gain a valid unde knew of held. His response made me more aware of my own mistakes; many times we as a society use stereotypes to classify and categorize people into specific ethnic groups.

Yet, the difficult and most important note to remember is that in order to be a good anthropologist one must be able to put aside all stereotypes and go in with a clean slate to gain a valid understanding of a group of people. Although frequently, people find themselves authenticating based on stereotypes regarding actions or personality traits, the truth of the matter is that Armenian culture is like any other culture; it has been molded and is continuing to be molded by the interaction with other cultures. In other words, the authenticity is not defined in one way but rather is the product of a constructive ongoing process. Moving forward with my personal belief that all cultures are created constructively, I seek to gain some insight on the effects of the Genocide on the development of Armenian culture. Through the numerous interviews conducted, the most intriguing and mentally stimulating response came from a 26 year old Armenian teacher named Raffi. Both hearing and feeling his emotion and passion in his voice and facial expression he stated: The Armenian Genocide was back in 1915, but its effects on our culture and racial identity will never be lost or forgotten. At a time when, an entire ethnic group was trying to be eliminated from the face of this earth, Armenians tried to keep their culture alive through music, prayer, and literature.

A lot of the Armenian literature of that era reflects the Russian and French landscape. These interactions with foreigners have helped construct and evolve modern Armenian cuisine, language, music, and dance. If this genocide were not to have happened, who knows what Armenian culture would be like today. It is because of this genocide that Armenians spread all over the world, and it is this interaction with a multitude of cultures that has helped create this rich and intriguing Armenian culture…We can not forget our past. It is a part of who we are today. We must stick together, speak our native language, give homage to our ancestors who shed blood, and work hard to keep the Armenian spirit alive. Raffi’s comments introduced a more historical look on Armenian authenticity. His knowledge and emotion that he conveyed made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. It was clearly evident that his main reason of participating in this cultural event was not for creating social networks.

Rather, the anger in his voice, the teary eyes, and his powerful words expressed his true passion for the Armenian culture. He did not mention stereotypes to authenticate his racial identity. Rather he used a historical timeline to trace and define the construction and representation of modern Armenian culture. As the 5 hour protest came to an end, so did my questioning and observing of the various subjects. Although a difficult task, I worked hard to rid myself of any positionality that would have affected the outcome of my research. I knew that my existing relationships with most of the subjects, and my personal biases of being an Armenian would play a role in the final outcome. Yet, I worked extremely hard to minimize their effects. Through this process, I was able to gain a better understanding on a culture that I thought I already knew everything about. This amazing experience, gave me the opportunity to discover the perceptions that other Armenians held in regards to the construction and representation of racial identity and authenticity. I learned that Armenians,perceptions of their own racial identity varied from person to person.

The question still remained whether there is a single definition of an authentic Ne Armenian, and if so, which one was the right one. On the other hand, I succeeded in gaining insight into the minds of young Armenians. These individuals find themselves living in a world that is rapidly changing and evolving, and how they are coping with the struggles of keeping and authenticating their racial identity. As Raffi brilliantly worded it, I am not more Armenian than someone who does not participate in these social or political events. I am Armenian because I know where I come from and will never forget it. It may sound ridiculous to some people out there, but I know that I was born as an Armenian, live as an Armenian, and will die as an Armenian.

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An Overview of the Infamous Armenian Genocide. (2022, Feb 15). Retrieved from

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