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Between Statelessness and the Printed Word: Reimagining the Western Armenian Language in Dispersion
At the turn of the 20th century, the Young Turk regime’s massacre and deportation of Ottoman Armenians living in the empire’s eastern provinces ruptured the burgeoning literary community of the empire’s capital as well. Constantinople, which had served as the site for Western Armenian’s modernization efforts, was emptied of its Armenian intellectuals, who were arrested and later executed. In the aftermath of the Armenian genocide, surviving writers from the Ottoman empire gathered in various cities across the world and attempted to produce Western Armenian intellectual thought in dispersion. In this paper, focusing on the ways print culture helped to center communities of dispersion, I discuss the literary activity of emergent transnational spaces following the genocide. More specifically, I analyze the manifestos and announcements of literary journals published in Paris, Boston, Beirut, Aleppo and Cairo to distinguish between the post-genocide linguistic and literary development’s early transnational orientation and later consolidation around the concept of diaspora. Framing Western Armenian as a “stateless language,” I suggest that in the long run, directly linking language maintenance with a narrative of return proved detrimental to literary production in the diaspora, especially following Armenia’s 1991 Independence.
Geographic Area
North America
The Levant
Sub Area