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The Armenian transnation as unified in opposition to its Ottoman past

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  1. Armenian 'transnation' is self-defined and ultimately unified by the Armenian genocide of 1915.
  2. Republic of Armenia's villainization of its Ottoman past.
  3. The fledgling Republic of Armenia.
  4. Dispersion scholars such as Khachig Tololyan.
  5. The Armenian transnation's victim psychology.
  6. The most notorious Armenian villainization of the Ottomans.
  7. Pushing a policy of genocide recognition.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Armenians were already a dispersed people; one scattered around the world but primarily divided between the Ottoman and Russian Empires. Their dispersion, however, became part of their self-conception as a people in 1915, when the Ottoman Armenians found themselves being systematically deported from their homes to other remote parts of the Empire by the powerful Turkish nationalist faction the Committee of Union and Progress. Whatever the intent of the CUP Armenians deportations was, the result was manifested in the suffering and ultimate death of approximately anywhere from 600,000 to one million Armenian men, women, and children. Since then, to use the words of Armenian scholar Lorne Shirinian, Armenian people around the world have refused to forget their ?destruction? at the hands of the Ottomans, ?[absorbing] catastrophe, wandering, exile, diaspora and rebirth? into their very self-conception. And yet, in 1991, almost a century after the genocide of 1915, this self-proclaimed ?wandering people? was officially granted its own nation-state, the fledgling Republic of Armenia. Accordingly, the issue has become how this new Armenian ?Homeland? is supposed to define itself?that is, how it is to supposed to unite itself with what is often referred to as the Armenian ?transnation,? or the five million Armenians born and living outside of the Republic's borders

[...] Appendix Armenian Genocide of 1915: Estimating the Losses Halacoglu (2002) 56,612 Gürün (1985) 300,000 Sonyel (1987) 300,000 Ötke (1989) 600,000 Toynbee (1916) 600,000 McCarthy & McCarthy (1989) 600,000 Kévorkian (1998) 630,000 (my own estimate) Courbage & Fargues (1997) 688,000 Steinbach (1996) 700,000 (median) Zürcher (1997) 700,000 Morgenthau (1918) 800,000 Suny (1998) 800,000 Lepsius (1919) 1,000,000 (mean) Ternon (1981) 1,200,000 Dadrian (1999) 1,350,000 Kazarian (1977) 1,500,000 Karajian (1972) 2,070,037 To give the reader a better idea of the necessary ambiguity involved in any discussion of the Armenian genocide I have reproduced in the appendix a list of genocide estimates compiled by scholar Guenter Lewy on page 240 in his book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005). [...]


[...] The unity, then, of the Armenian transnation, or that which unifies the millions of dispersed Armenians despite fundamental differences in places of birth or residence, is the Ottoman genocide of 1915? its construction and propagation in transnational Armenian collective consciousness as well as the battle for its recognition.[6] Consequently, self-identification as being Armenian, as ?belonging? to the Armenian transnation, is often equated with possessing knowledge of the forced relocation, ultimate genocide and permanent dispersion of the Armenians under Ottoman rule, including a continued ?deep sense of loss and moral outrage? at the genocide's being vehemently denied today by Turkey and generally ignored by the global community.[7] Indeed, the Armenian language itself reflects this kind of self-generated and pervasively self-propagating Armenian ?victim psychology? in the very fact that the two intuitively distinct English verb conjunctions be persecuted? and be driven out of the homeland? are the same, single verb in Armenian: haladz-el.[8] Placing Armenian victim psychology thus at the center of transnational Armenian consciousness, of the ?social and personal boundaries that identify [the Armenians as a single entity],? the unity of the Armenian transnation comes to necessarily depend upon both its ?absorption? of and continual reaction to the genocide of 1915.[9] The Armenian transnation's victim psychology is rooted in Armenians' own active construction of their Ottoman past as a period of undeserved oppression at the hands of villainously caricatured Ottomans, an oppression which both revolves around and culminates in the genocide of 1915. [...]


[...] In a 2004 address to the Armenian community in Sweden, current Prime Minister Andranik Margarian candidly told his ?compatriots? to ?come to Armenia, invest and get profits,? including in the same speech several comments on the ?deep emotion at the bottom of [his] heart? for the ?pain and ordeals? of that ?horrible crime? that drove their ?ancestors? from the ?Homeland? in 1915.[26] Thus, the Republic of Armenia's villainization of its Ottoman past serves as part of a larger mechanism with the aim of bringing together and drawing moral and financial loyalty back into a single ?Homeland,? the Republic. [...]

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