BELMONT, Mass.—The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) will host an in-person and online program, “The Armenians of Abkhazia: Identification and Self-Identification in the Early 21st Century,” presented by researcher Zadig Tisserand, on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, at 7:30 p.m., at the NAASR Vartan Gregorian Building, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA. This program will be presented under the auspices of the NAASR / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues.
This will be an in-person event and also presented online live via Zoom and NAASR’s YouTube channel. For those attending in person, NAASR recommends the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Having arrived in successive waves on the shores of the Black Sea in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Armenians of Abkhazia today constitute over 20 percent of the population of the de facto Republic of Abkhazia. The Armenian community of Abkhazia, the members of which self-identify as “Hamshen,” emigrated from northeast Turkey and have preserved their traditions and dialects, which they still use in the private sphere.
Thirty years after the war in Abkhazia (1992-1993), the Armenians of Abkhazia are embedded in the fragile process of Abkhazian national construction. Within this young ethnic democracy, they are thus regularly questioned on several aspects of their identity: Are they Abkhazians or Armenians? Are the Hamshen and Armenian identities contradictory? How do they identify themselves and how are they identified by the Abkhazian State? Finally, what might their relationship to the Republic of Armenia be?
Tisserand received a BA in political science (2018) and an MA in political theory (2020) from Sciences Po Paris. His master’s thesis, based on six months of field research in the de facto state of Abkhazia, examined the political mobilization of Abkhazian Armenians within that ethnic democracy. He continues to study the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. An article on the Persian Gulf-Black Sea Transit Corridor is forthcoming in the academic journal Confluences Méditerranée.
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