Greetings, and a warm welcome to you all. My name is Professor Ann Karagozian. And it is my pleasure and privilege as the director of the promise Armenian Institute at UCLA to welcome you to our third Distinguished Lecture of this academic year to be delivered today by Dr. Ronald Gregoire, Sunni on the subject of what does a small nation know Armenians and the wages of nationalism, with discussion commentary provided by Dr. soci Kasparian. What a profoundly important subject This is for this moment in Armenian history. Although we had hoped to be able to host events for the promise Armenian Institute in person by now, we are delighted that Professor Sunni has agreed to provide his Distinguished Lecture to us via the zoom online webinar platform and because of this, we are able to reach so many more of you from around the world with this lecture in real time. For today's Distinguished Lecture, I am grateful to note the CO sponsorship of the UCLA Richard hovhannisyan. Endowed Chair in modern Armenian history, the UCLA center for Near Eastern Studies, the National Association for Armenian studies and research, and the other that is skin museum. Thank you all for your partnership in our endeavors. My UCLA colleague, Professor Sevilla, Slovenian will provide formal introductions for our speakers in a moment. But first, let me note that for those of you who are watching live via the Xoom webinar platform, you have an opportunity to send us questions through the following mechanism. Click on the q&a button at the bottom portion of your screen and type in your question, please be sure to be as specific as possible. And we will direct as many of the questions as are practical to our lectures when they are finished speaking. We anticipate that the lecture itself will take around 50 to 55 minutes, and that the discussing commentary will take 10 to 15 minutes approximately, after which we will begin the q&a session. Please note that this lecture is also being recorded for future viewing at our promise Armenian Institute website. And now it gives me great pleasure to turn the webinar over to Professor Sevilla Slovenian of UCLA Department of History. Professor aslanian is the inaugural director of the Armenian Studies Center within the UCLA promise Armenian Institute, and has been the holder of the Richard hovhannisyan Endowed Chair in modern Armenian history since 2012, is the author of from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, the global trade networks of Armenian merchants from New julfa as well as numerous scholarly articles pertaining to early modern and modern Armenian history. sebou I'll now turn this over to you.
Thank you very much, and for that introduction. Hello, everyone. I am David rasanya, a professor of history and the holder of the original magnesium Chair of modern army and history at UCLA. I also have the privilege of acting as the inaugural director is and mentioned. I will provide first, a brief introduction for each of our distinguished for our distinguished lecturer, Dr. Ronald Sunni, followed by some remarks on is discussing Dr. soci Kasparian. We are truly honored and thankful to have them both join us in making this event possible. After my introductions, Dr. Sunni will deliver his talk for roughly an hour or less than an hour and then Dr. KASPARIAN will follow up with a discussion session with a series of illuminating comments. I ask the audience members and remind the audience members again that you should write down your questions and make them as succinct as possible and communicate them to us via the q&a option at the bottom of your screens. When the lecturing discussions have concluded, we will field as many audience questions as time will permit us them to doctors to me. So now for my formal introduction to doctors to me. Professor ronald reagan Sunni is the Charles Tilly collegiate professor of social and political history and the director of the Eisenberg Institute of historical studies. The University of Michigan, an emeritus professor of political science and history at the University of Chicago. He was the first holder of the Alex manoogian chair in modern army and history at the University of Michigan from 1981 to 1995, where he founded and directed the army and studies program. Professor Sumi is a prolific author with a long record of publications, mostly on the non Russian nationalities of the Russian Empire in the Soviet Union, particularly those in the South Caucasus. Just to name a few of his distinguished publications, I will mention the Baku camion 1917 1918 class and nationality in the Russian Revolution published by Princeton in 1972.
The making of a Georgian nation by Indiana University Press 1988 and 94 followed up with his looking towards art, Armenia in modern history. Also Indiana University Press 1993. The Revenge of the past nationalism Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union appeared from Stanford University Press in 1993. It's a very nice compact, small monograph followed by the Soviet experiment Russia, the USSR and the successor states that appeared through Oxford in 98. Most recently, he is the author of coat, they can live in the desert, but nowhere else, a history of the Armenian Genocide, published on the centenary of the genocide in 2015. He has received many awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim in the Middle East Studies Association academic freedom Prize for his work with Professor media go jek, also of Michigan in bringing Armenian and Turkish scholars together to further the study of the Armenian genocide. Professor Sunni is currently working on a book length essay on a recent upsurge of exclusivist nationalisms and authoritarian populism. We titled forging the nation, the making and faking of nationalisms. My introduction for Ron would be incomplete if I did not introduce a personal element into it. For as long as I remember, Ron has been a formative role model for me as a scholar and one of my as one of my inspirations for entering the field of Armenian studies. I first met him in the spring of 1990, while of a much younger man at McGill University. The essay I read by him and planned under under its surface was a profound and transformative experience. As I think about it in retrospect, and altered the way I look and understand the craft of history. I look at and understand the craft of history, and of course, Armenian studies and I have that essay right here. It's an especial 1983 issue of the army and review, edited by another mutual friend, JIRA, and libertarian. So, he's discussing today is Dr. Sophie Kasparian, a senior lecturer at in politics at the University of Stirling in Scotland. Dr. KASPARIAN earned her doctorate from the London School of Oriental and African Studies show us the University of London in 2006. She has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and has taught at SOS, the Graduate Institute of International Development Studies in Geneva, the University of Lancaster in England, in the American University of keidel. She is the CO editor of the prestigious journal diaspora, the Journal of transnational studies, and also a co editor of the collection of essays that appeared in 19 in 2015, titled The aspirants of the modern Middle East contextualizing community, Edinburgh University Press. She is current. She is currently the CO editor of the forthcoming volume, titled diaspora and stateless power, social discipline, identity formation, across the Armenian diaspora during the long 20th century, which is a volume in honor of Fauci colloquium based on a conference we had only a year or two ago at UCLA. Our current project is a comparative study of the different trajectories that transnational communities in the in the current in the contemporary Middle East embody and enact, focusing on the Armenian diaspora. I am proud to count her as well as Dr. Sunni as cherished friends and colleagues in this small but burgeoning field we call Armenian studies. So without further delay, and now I now invite Dr. Sunni to the floor, and then we will follow up with the comments in the discussion. Thank you.
And thank you, Sebo. And thank you and for this invitation. You guys have now now invited me three times the promise Institute, for me, at least personally is certainly fulfilling its promise. I've enjoyed these occasions, I've learned a lot. And it's been a really wonderful experience. So you're off to an incredible, great start. When I first came here to the University of Michigan to teach Armenian history, a long time ago, I tried as hard as I could to tell my students, the tragic and occasionally triumphant long story of how Armenians had appeared, have devolved, have fought to defend themselves in their lands, and how they managed to survive, much reduced in number and strength into the present time. I worked diligently to take the fragmented pieces of a disconnected past and put them together in some kind of mosaic that would tell a coherent story of a brave people determined to survive in a dangerous neighborhood, even though constantly threatened by great empires to the east, the West and the North. And then, as we all know, in the early 20th century, a desperate attempt by the Ottomans to eliminate them altogether in the genocide of 1915. That tail was indeed inspiring. And maybe it was for that purpose to inspire that the chair of modern Armenian studies at Michigan had been founded by the manoukian Foundation. But there was a problem, I could not successfully honestly weave the myriad and contradictory threads of that long delay of history into a unified story. What I was actually finding as I pursued the existing scholarship, and my own research, was not a tale of a single people, who over many centuries had fought the good fight to maintain their identity, integrity and homeland, but a much more complex and I would say, much more interesting story of disparate and often desperate attempts to survive by contending groups in alliance with others, of efforts by clerics and intellectuals to create a collective identity for Armenians. That identity was first based on a particular kind of Christianity. Armenians took our Universalist religion, Christianity and made it their own particular Christianity. And then that identity collective identity evolved into modern notions of a nation. Now, how do I tell this story? Because it seemed contradictory and disjunction, disconnected, but it was thought by many to be continuous, organic. And what I think was organic was the selection, the continuation, the promulgation, sometimes the Eurasia and the recovery of national traditions. As I wrote, in looking toward autodata book that said, boo mentioned, quote, pre modern Armenians conceived of themselves primarily as a religious community, and only much later of what we take to be a nationality today, was contained in this religious identification in earlier times, and transformed, then I would say, into different things in modern times. Armenians In other words, were not from their earliest appearances, to the present day, the same people, genetically racially or even culturally. But people who in different times, identified with being Armenian. And they adopted and develop traditions and ideas about what they took to be Armenian, this from the past, remembering and forgetting parts of what had been experienced, and then reinterpreting that experience in the light of their own time, and what was needed to survive and prosper. Armenians throughout history may have had similar or Share genes. In fact, with most human beings, we share the same genes.
But they also may have shared a different time, but in different ways, a way of life. But more important, I was thinking than any objective continuous characteristic was the subjective sense of self, of who they were. And that sense shifted, changed morphed over time. belonging to a nation, I was beginning to argue, is a matter of consciousness and feeling. It's an effective emotional affiliation, as much as a choice based on the context in which you were born and raised. at roughly the same time that I was going through these problems, trying to figure out what to say about Armenian history. My Courses and early articles on Armenian history were influenced by what you can call an epistemological revolution, a revolution in knowledge, a paradigm shift among scholars precisely about the question of what is a nation. In other words, I arrived in Michigan as a regular tenured faculty member in the fall of 1981. And roughly two years later, around 1983, serious intellectuals all around the world, many of the Marxists or Moxie salt turned to examine the subject of nationalism. And indeed, in that single year of 1983, three major books very influential on me, appeared that shaped the discussion about the origins of nations and the eruptions of nationalism. One was by an anthropologist and anti Marxist, Ernest gellner, another by a political scientist, who was a peculiar kind of Marxist, Benedict Anderson, the author of this incredible book, imagined communities and that concept of the nation being an imagined community just became universal among scholars. And then the Marxist historian Eric J. Hobsbawm. And his colleague, Terence Ranger, in a very interesting book called The invention of tradition, how traditions in fact, are conceived, invented, reinvented, and so forth. And there were others there was the philosopher Etienne Balibar, the sociologist, Emmanuel Wallerstein, these are all people engaged in a lively discussion in seminars on the intersections of the ambiguous identities of race, nation and class and across the globe. People were convinced that there was a kind of strange thing going on a retreat back to nationalism. So this discussion was also reflected, and was in fact inspired by what was going on in the real political world. People were moving away from cosmopolitanism, multi nationalism, even though those were being expressed and put forth into more ethno nationalism. There was in the late 80s and early 90s, the resurgence of the right, the font Nasional in France, there was the transnational fallout from the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. And there was a turn in the United States in Great Britain toward what would become a sustained neoliberal assault on the welfare state. nationalism, which many liberals Marxist and others had imagined was disappearing. Now with the end of the 80s and in the 90s, was boldly aggressively reappearing on the historical stage. Within a decade, the Soviet Union disintegrated. socialism was in retreat, and ethnic conflict, armed now with a new phrase, ethnic cleansing was rampant. So naturalism, and Empire along with it became new themes that the universities that the academy began to take up. Now, the first thing I want to say about nationalism as a subject and as a movement
is that it is a radical simplification of stubborn historical complexity. The great thinking, a breakthrough in thinking about the nation that I mentioned in the early 1980s entailed its denaturalization and its radical historicization. Those are two important concepts to me. denaturalization and radical historicization denaturalization meant that the nation was no longer a natural Organic, always existing phenomenon, but that it had been radically by the scholars and others historicized placed in the flow of history, the nation was a product of human activity of human beings in time and place, creating a new way of imagining political and cultural communities. The modernist writers, Marxist and non Marxist alight establish a social history of nationalism that increasingly insisted on bringing human beings into the story, politics and agency from a more essential his view of the nation is a real thing given objective natural and perhaps even primordial going back to primitive times in origins. A significant body of scholarship now argued that nations were humanly engineered political communities relatively modern in their origins, the products of hard intellectual and political work by activists and intellectuals, politicians, poets, historians, statesmen and women. Rather than simply the modern manifestation of communities of dissent or blood, as many ethno nationalists would have it, modern nationalities and nations were seen in again, Benedict gantos. Anderson's widely employed phrase as imagined communities based on subjectively experienced allegiances, and identities. Ernest gellner succinctly defined the subject for many social scientists who followed and wrote the following, quote, nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the National unit should be coherent, congruent, unquote. That is nationalist desire that the political unit mainly mainly meeting the state, and the National that is the imagined community, which is usually imagined as an identified with a ethnic or civic culture, they should go together, they should be congruent. This was a modern phenomenon, confidently proclaimed the constructivist modernist scholars who emphasize the nation's modern fabrication. And it was widely thought that if we could get this architecture right, and get culture ethnicity together with state and make one ethnicity have one state in every state of one ethnicity, or as near as we can get to it, we would have Harmony in the World. Of course, in order to achieve that utopian goal, what you have to do is probably forcibly assimilate people or ethnically cleanse them or carry out genocide for the next quarter century, the dominant paradigm then, in the study of nationalism, contended that nations are human rather than natural constructs, that the claims of nationalist to primordial origins of their nation organic continuity, and essentially harmonious, relatively consistent makeup of their constituent peoples were spurious. And that the nation state is a quintessentially modern political formation. This constructivist as it was called our modernist perspective, grounded nation formation in maybe capitalism as the Marxist did, or industrialization is earned skill needed, or the breakdown of trade of transnational, religious and dynastic realms and the introduction of print capitalism, as Benedict Anderson did, and with the vigorous interventions of intellectuals and state makers, as the Czech Marxist middle slot, but often
a discipline history that had been complicit in the very invention of national narratives and myths, was now opened up to a new generation of scholars who challenged these sacralized constructions of the nation's past. The scholarly achievements of this turn toward constructivism were enormous. Dozens of monographs on particular nationalisms rich theoretical debates on the role of the state on war, international politics, and a general shift from political to social to cultural explorations of the origins and enduring power of the nation form. Now is several mentioned Currently, I'm writing a book length essay on the history and they have nations and nationals are even titled it forging the nation, the making and faking of nationalism forging having those two meanings in English fate, making like forging steel and faking like counterfeiting money forging money in this work and I argue that earlier than modern times, the homophily that is birds of a feather flock together the similarities between people, the homophily of one's neighbors and relatives, and hostility toward foreigners are, as they're often called barbarians are common to almost any group, since greatness is always based on inclusion and exclusion. So those early communities, before modern times should not be called nations, where the central ingredient is that culture. Your civic or ethnic culture gives you the right to political representation, autonomy, a state of your own a piece of territory, a homeland, etc. The equation of culture and politics is what makes a nation from the old most ancient texts, distinctions that always existed between one people and another. Crucial, however, is how different is defined, not understanding the other can occur. As soon as the stranger who looked a lot like your countrymen opened his or her mouth. Think of the biblical verse, that gilia dites captured the Fords, I'm quoting here from the Bible Old Testament of the Jordan, leading to Efraim and whenever a survival of Ephram said let me cross over the men of gillean asked him, Are you an f4 mite? If he replied, No, they said, All right, say Shibboleth. And if he said simplefx, because he could not pronounce the show the word correctly. They seized him and killed him at the Fords of the Jordan 42,000 F forumites. were killed at that time, bizarre, right, but enough to make you another and be killed on basis of your identity. Not being able to speak what Russian said mimics a word unable to speak meant German for them could be fatal. To know the language of another was often in these communities and admission to being human. Now in all times, as gellner and others remind us mankind humankind has always lived in groups, groups have often persisted over time, the loyalty that people feel toward that group is important. And it has to exist with some traditions or myths, or history, a shared idea of origins, perhaps shared idea of fate, all of these things, which make up some kind of culture. But politics was outside this often, politics came from physical conquest, as in armies, we own we are now superior, and we control you. That's the nature of Empire, or came from paternity from dynasty. My dad was the boss here. And now I'm the king. So sorry about that. Or from, in fact, divine right? God made me the ruler in this area. That's very different from when your culture, the people themselves constitute as the nation give political power upward. Note that the nation the modern nation, also has implied in it, a notion of democracy and the notion of political Popular Sovereignty doesn't always realize that, but in its ideal form, that is basically what it is.
So basically, what these modernists are constructivists have been saying about the nation in the last three decades. And some were earlier saying this, like instrumental in the late 19th century, is precisely how are we defining what's new about nations? In the age of nationalism? What does it mean, when politics are primarily about people's organized as nations in a larger discursive universe, that is a big discussion, in which legitimacy of governments derives not from God, not from conquest, not from paternity, or, as in empires, superiority of one class over another, but from an imagined community of people, equal to one another horizontally equivalent to one another in the law, at least, if not in reality, that's designated as a nation and therefore provides the right to rule to a given government. That's the argument of the book. And that's the point I want to make. That's what makes nations unique, and that form the nation form has become hegemonic in the world in our own time. So I guess, to be clear, the nation in its full modern splendor, whatever you call it earlier, and you can use the term whatever you want, this is the way I'm understanding was only possible once a discourse of the nation a universe of available meanings, About the nation was cobbled together in the late 18th and 19th centuries, that the modern nation form, which would be the Hasan d'etat. And goal of nationalism is fundamentally about the coming together of culture as a justification for political self rule. It's a kind of rational passion. It's an emotion of fervor, the effective effective expression of national identity, which in the discourse of the nation, has to be fully realized in statehood, territory, that is the homeland, some piece of the world's real estate, and popular sovereignty. So I wrote this earlier, but it fits here, quote, whatever Greeks in the classical period, or Armenians in the fifth century were, however, they thought about themselves, they could not be nations in the same sense that they would be in the age of nationalism. The discourses of politics in earlier times, must be understood and respected in their own particularity, and not submerged in understandings yet to come. Unquote. We look into history to discover why meanings of terms used in the past are no longer what they mean in the present. And that's what I'm going to try to do in this book, and tried to show why the modern nation is so distinct from what was meant in all the various ways that that determination was used earlier, by the way, Edward Spencer, in Elizabethan times used nation to mean a flock of birds, it often meant a group of students from a foreign land, it could be used in all ways. But in the modern times, it's this peculiar particular combination of culture, giving in the group, the people, the nation, giving the right to rule to an elite of some kind. So nation is what I'm talking about. And that's why I'm distinguishing what happened earlier from from others from these earlier things. And I keep a loose idea of culture that I borrowed from a one of my friends and mentors, William H. Sewell, Jr. My real professorship at the moment is now named after him, that a culture is a system of symbols possessing a real but thin coherence that is continually put at risk in practice, and therefore subject to transformation. In other words, cultures are not like billiard balls on a felt Greenfeld table. They are porous, they are fluid, they move between, we borrow, we forget, we remember. And that was true of Armenians as well. So this group of people that imagines itself to be a political community, with a shared culture, it could be ethnic, as it is often with Armenians or civic in Switzerland, or the United States, distinct from the rest of humanity, then believes that it deserves human self determination, which usually entails self rule, control of the territory, and perhaps a state of its own. That is my argument about what nation is.
So what is nationalism then, nationalism is a sentiment or maybe a doctrine, maybe a movement that expresses primary or ultimate loyalty to and affection for a particular nation, and dedication to its promotion and advancement. So what could be wrong with that? nationalism is an affective disposition, a feeling, but a feeling with consequences? Or as Rogers brew Baker of UCLA puts it, nationalism can be thought of as a form of remedial political action. It addresses an allegedly deficient or pathological condition, and proposes to remediated unquote. Well, in my argument in this paper, I'd say there are real serious problems with nationalism. nationalism, I will argue, can either be progressive, as it is in anti colonial nationalism, at least for a while, or it can be reactionary, and highly dangerous, as an ethno nationalisms that tore apart Yugoslavia in the bloody, even genocidal wars. So I worry as a historian, about nationalisms radical simplifications, and I see nationalism as both the ally and the enemy of history and history and historians have long been complicit in the forming of nations, which to a large degree are based on the stories of origins and victories and defeats and triumphs, and long continuities between the past and the destiny of the nation. In other words, the organic narratives, the arc of historical books and texts, then influences the way people think about nations as well. Over time, nations and historians have worked together the one bolstering and supporting the other. But coincidentally, nationalism has also been the enemy of the historians true enterprise, which is the accurate recreation of the past, the objective as far as possible, examination and analysis of where we have come from, after more than a century writing narratives in the frame of the nation, often with barely suppressed natural impulses. Historians have begun to look beyond such an approach and and consider international transnational and global lenses to shake up unquestioned assumptions about well what constituted history. And here at UCLA, you have such a global vision in a historian that is in our own several asagna. But nationalism has infected history, particularly in the South Caucasus and among our meanings, as well as Georgians, Azerbaijanis, and Turks. nationalism, has a fatal quality ability to make you confident that your views are correct, that your cause is just that the others are enemies out to destroy you, that you must remain on guard against those across the border, or even inside the Academy, who are questioning your right to the land you live on, or where your ancestors lived, or what makes you genuinely whatever you are, I myself, have had the honor of being called many times by such nationalists, now by john Hyeme. in Turkish, that is trader. History must be written so the nationalists to reinforce the claims of the nation not to question them, and good scholarly critical history doesn't do that. History is by its nature, its subversive science. It undermines unquestioned assumptions, it raises new questions, it brings new material to the story, good history unsettles you trigger warning. And it is a job. That is its job to unsettle you. Its purpose is to question to criticize. It makes you question what you have simply thought was common sense. nationalism does the opposite. As I mentioned, it simplifies what's in fact far more complex, murky and contradictory. It covers over as manufacturers, usable paths, comfortable myths about your history that allow you to go on.
Let me turn now to the story of the Armenians themselves. Because in their millennial history, Armenians were far more affected not by nationalism, not by an idea of the nation, but by the structures, the conflicts and the competition of something different from nations and nation states, from empires. empires, these multinational structures, in which some people who consider themselves superior ruled over those they considered inferior. At times, Armenians had such empires as Undertaker and the great, but usually in most of their history, they were identified and lived within empires and Armenians through their history, had contradictory identifications, with those empires, sometimes resisting, sometimes accommodating them to to them. Now early in their history in the fourth century, early in the fourth century, they adapted a new particular brand of Christianity. They identified with different territories and local kings and Nobles called knockout on them. Until the early modern period, the leading clerics and intellectuals among Armenians did not identify primarily with ideas of culture, legitimating rulership, or the people being sovereign that would dominate in the modern nation that came only in the 19th century, that when ethno nationalists could begin to conceive that these multinational empires were doing and the future belong to ethnically homogeneous states, Vartan mykonian was not a nationalist. He was a defender of Christianity and of a particular brand of Christianity. A History of Armenian natural he would be borrowed later by nationalists right, and story would be told in a more national story. A History of Armenian nationalism then begins with the understanding of the nation in the nation. 19th century rather than in the distant past, and it comes from borrowing ideas already emerging in Europe. And these Armenian nationalists rejected steadily the multi lingual cosmopolitan Miss Polycom politan ism of empires, fearing that the loss of a primary national language was national death. How many times have you been told Armenians by your grandma's or your mom or your dad, that if you forget Armenians or don't struggle to learn Armenian, you will destroy the nation. Rather than acquiescing in the Imperial mixing of peoples, the nationalist began to draw Armenians away from the ethnically and religiously diverse world and conceived of a world made up of opposing national communities separated by unbridgeable Gulf. That's a quote, the organization of schools by nationalists was in part an effort to institutionalize and promote ethno national differences between the peoples of the Empire. Of course, it was also about creating organic intellectuals of the nation, the promoters of national ideals and to modernize a backward and traditional people. These nationalists were by their efforts normal as they may have been in their own conception, and in our own understanding, were in fact the sub murders of the multinational empires that kind of time bomb at the bottom of the Empire.
Now, second point I would want to make about Armenians besides being people in empires sometimes imperialists sometimes colonized, is that Armenians were mobile people, they moved around. They established communities from India to Amsterdam, as Sabu knows better than anyone, many assimilated into the dominant population, notably those who immigrated to Poland and Eastern Europe and converted to Catholicism, those who remained in Anatolia and caulk in the Caucasus, the Armenians of Persia, Russia and the Ottoman empires were conquered people, many of whom assimilated and lost their Armenian, this, and those who remain Armenian are those who refuse to accept a foreign religion. But they lost their control of their homelands. In the late Middle Ages of the last kingdom of cilicia. Already in the hands of a Frankish family, the Lucy neons was closed down in 1375 by the mamluks. So Armenians were people brutally colonized by a variety of invaders and settlers, to become a minority in their own height in their own fatherland. And you can hear this in the laments, they understood that they were subordinate to Imperial overlords, and either through acculturation, preservation and migration or just making do part of them maintain some form of Armenian identity, though that would change and develop over times, many, many others blended into the dominant population, converting to Islam or whatever, and losing what distinguish them for centuries as Armenians their allegiance to the Apostolic Church. So if we come into what was called the age of nationalism in the 19th century, first of all, I would, I would dispute that term. This is really the Age of Empires and empires are going to go on the great Age of Empires in the end of the 19th century, the scramble for Africa, and empires will continue to exist, right until after World War Two, when the real decolonization takes place. But there was a growing though minority development among Armenians of a kind of exclusivist, ethno nationalism, and even smaller nationalism, which wanted to separate from the Empires. That story doesn't really tell us much about Armenians, Armenian nationalists and political parties that developed at the end of the 19th century, were had to face the fact that Armenians both in the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire where the majority lived, were torn between those who sought a life within the Empire, who were ready to accommodate themselves to the Cosmopolitan Imperial setting, particularly if they could get some reform, some amelioration, some tolerance of their difference and their own way of life. They were on that was on one side. And those radicals, particularly influenced by Caucasian, that is Russian Armenians, and Western nationalisms nationalisms, who were intrigued by the possibility of greater self rule. Still, most Armenian political parties in Russia and the Ottoman Empire wanted some degree of rights, autonomy and protect From the Imperial state rather than full independence, the major independent minded party was the nunchuck party and Marxist party. What's been overlooked by historians, I would say to a fault until recently, this is something I tried to emphasize in my book on the genocide. They can live in the desert but nowhere else. What's been missed is the variety of ways Armenians accommodated to Russian, an ottoman society and worked in conjunction with the state. Some Russian historic Armenian historians, younger ones, like some of our students here from Michigan, Michigan, now teaching at USC, Richard antaranya. And, and our dear friends of mine out there Darian have emphasized in their work precisely this complex connection between their army meanness, and their Imperial Artemis. The long literary tradition and established presence in the highlands of eastern Anatolia and southern caucasia made it easy for many Armenians to identify with a homeland, that is the highlands of eastern Anatolia.
That was their hygienic and for Armenian intellectuals and many foreigners. Armenia was basically associated with the so called six Armenian villa. Yes, that was yet good. That was the homeland. And then the dispute among nationalists was how it ought to be governed, how it whether it should be autonomous, or Armenians should be independent. Okay, this developed, and this was an important element among these Armenian nationalists and the parties like the Dutch doxygen, the lunchbox, the Americans that I'm Guevara's that developed out of this media. The problem for Armenians was that all the efforts at reform in the Ottoman Empire in particularly less so in Russia, but even there as well, the tons of mot, the experiments of automatism, which policies that would be egalitarian among all peoples, those failures and the shift particularly in the Ottoman Empire, under Abdul Hamid the second in the late 19th and early 20th century toward policies preferable preferential to Muslims, arming of the Kurds who carried out predations against Armenians in eastern Anatolia, in the media regimens, these things only made the situation worse, made the nationalists a small number, though they were, we shouldn't exaggerate that, in these empires, made them more radical, more revolutionary, and Armenians late in the 19th century, turned to terrorism and to revolution. But interestingly enough, in some ways, Allied is often they were they particularly the Dutch dogs, with Turkish nationalism, young turks as well, as difficult it was when the young turk revolution occurred in 1908. The Armenian revolutionaries basically laid down their arms, they said, we're going to work within the Ottoman constitution, we're going to work for better rights, some degree of autonomy, recognition of the uniqueness of Armenians within our empires. Now, much of Armenian nationalism was quite radical, and could use bloodthirsty rhetoric, think of the novels of Rafi or indeed I'll give one example popcaan Young's poem, the tears of art, where the river itself laments that, quote, the filthy Turk or Persian unquote, lives along her shores and Armenians are scattered. My army, my own Armenian nation, the poet writes, is banished faraway, a godless barbarians, people dwells on our banks today. He's urging In other words, his fellow Armenians to march forth to battle without fear. This is not Donald Trump. This is Raphael Picabia. And if the worst befalls us, facing the phone like men, when back in death, our glory and sleep in silence then unquote. So these are people who are urging activity revolution, and even terrorism at different times. And there was a response in kind from the empire in other words, a vicious circle of Ottoman repression, Armenian resistance, and then more repression on top ultimately, genocide itself. In that nationalist imaginary in the way these nationalists and others thought about themselves, it has to be remembered that Armenians thought of themselves as superior to Turks and Kurds, and Christianity as superior to Islam. At the same time, the Muslims in the Empire, were beginning to resent the successes of the Armenians, the Armenians very successes to be the bankers, the head of the mint, the principal architect of the soul, time, only created more anger, fear and resentment toward the Armenians that would eventually generate in pogroms in route riots, in massacres, and eventually in genocide.
So this is a kind of difficult and hard circle to talk about in great detail. And I do try to explain it very well. In in my book, they can live in the desert, but nowhere else. But take for a moment the idea that the two sides fed on each other Armenians were of course victims, they were more powerless. There was no equivalency of agency between the rulers and the Muslims. And the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, or the Jews, in that Empire. And resistance, often organized by nationalists was, of course, something in a funny way noble, and respectable. And something that almost was inevitable that they would engage in at least up to 1908. And they again showed in 1908, that they were willing to work with the Turks with the Ottomans. If, in fact, if in fact, the reforms had been carried out. They were not. One more thing should be mentioned. And that is that by the end of the 19th century, in the beginning of the 20th century, for all kinds of social, political, cultural, and intellectual reasons, Turkish attitudes towards Armenians were hardening, were becoming more hostile. And vice versa. Armenian attitudes also were becoming to a point that it became more and more difficult for many of them to imagine some kind of accommodation with the church and yet, most Armenians, the Armenian Church, in the Ottoman Empire, many intellectuals people like Corazon rub a major member of the the Ottoman Parliament after 1908 we're still trying to find ways to live within their homeland, which was, in one sense, the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly enough, both turn of the century Armenian and Turkic nationalist rhetoric depicted their own people as victims, victims of degeneration, degradation and humiliation. Both Turkish and Armenian nationalism made the case for the protection, the preservation and advancement of their own people. The word Turk, at the turn of the 20th century, was not something that you'd be proud of invented bumpkin, a countryman, a low figure, and Turkic nationalists began to make into a proud national designation. Turkish nationalism came after Armenian nationalism and Turkish nationalism. The word Turk meant vulgar or wild kebab, that jambon the bunny is something that wasn't respectful and that began to generate and would only accelerate in the 20th century. Determined to save their empire. The Young Turks government, particularly the radicals, Talat Pasha and endure Pasha, who seized power, along with Jamal in January 1913. Those radical Young Turks, deeply influenced now by these Harbinger's of Turkic nationalism, thought now and feared the radical disintegration of their state. They suffered the losses in the Balkan Wars, they lost a lot, lots of their homeland, refugees were coming into Anatolia, and they began to conceive increasingly, of Christians, particularly Armenians and Greeks, as enemies as hostile internal enemies that have to be dealt with, in some radical way. The most radical one of the most radical of Turkish nationalism himself actually occurred. Zia Gaokao wrote to people is like a garden. We were supposed to be its gardeners. First the bad shoots are to be cut, and then the sky is to be grafted. Of course these Christians, particularly Armenians, were the weeds that this gardener would have to cut down.
The Young Turks started his optimists and then over time they became national imperialists, or if you prefer, Imperial nationalists prepared to take the most desperate and drastic actions measures to homogenize their state, while promoting some people's over others. I make a big time a big case in my book to argue that this is still not a nation state like the capitalist state. It is an empire but a more Muslim a more Turkic a more naturalized Empire. In my understanding the genocide of 1915 was neither religiously motivated nor a struggle between contending nationalisms. Each those were influences there, but rather the pathological response of desperate leveraged leaders like Talat an end there, who sought security for their people against the people that they had now constructed into enemies, and driven into radical opposition to the regime under which they had lived for centuries. In other words, the young turks drove and murdered some of their own subjects, their own people. In the genocide nationalism of a particular kind on both sides had hardened attitudes of hostility toward the other and undermined the discourses that sustained Empire or allowed for a more tolerant, egalitarian solution. Though, interestingly enough, as required by law, John's book shows the many Armenians to the bitter end we're trying to find a way to accommodate and live in their empire along with the Muslim peoples.
As I mentioned too many times in this lecture, and I'm coming now to the conclusion. nationalism is this radical simplification that divides what formerly had been complex Lee understood and interwoven, the Cosmopolitan subjects of Imperial societies were required by full blown nationalists to give their primary loyalty to the nation, usually to the exclusion of any other or to the Empire. lines were drawn more clearly, between people's nationalists police the boundaries of the ethnic community, deciding what rules applied, what conventions were to be observed, what traditions were authentic, and which were not. And as we've seen, empires, within which diverse communities manage in difficult conditions to live together, contribute itself inadvertently to the consolidation of nationalist discontent by repressing cultural expression. an unintentional collaboration between Imperial overlords and nationalist oppositionist reinforced the defining lines of difference that may conflict environments, more likely, and cosmopolitan coexistence increasingly more difficult. The overly capacious term nationalism, which has been promiscuously used to explain almost everything needs to be contained and understood in a more precise way. There are both benefits and costs of nationalism. And it's important and necessary to disaggregate to separate different forms of nationalist vision. Various imagined national communities overlap, overlap, competed, and succeed one another in rough in the roughly 100 years from tons of mock that the Ottoman is performed to the kemalist Republic. In late autumn in history, the efforts of autumn inist reformers to form an ottoman national community of relative egalitarianism that might be called a form of ecumenical or civic nationalism. But that effort has to be contrasted with what its successors Sultan Abdul Hamid did, to link Kurds and Turks together in a new national Islamic nationality. At the turn of the century, genuine Turkic ethnic nationalists proposed a greater infusion of Turkic elements into state governments and social arrangements, which then more and more excluded the Christians and the other peoples of the Empire and humiliated by the defeat of Christian by Christians, the defeat by Christians in the Balkan Wars of 1912 1913, the young turks adopted a more radical nationalist rhetoric of revenge, and Turkey suffocation Islamification of their population, yet all the time trying to maintain a multinational empire that would include the Arab Middle East parts of the caucuses which they hope to Congress, comfort, Congress, conquer, etc. They're also different. And here's another way Turks imagine their nationality, the kemalist, adopted after World War One, a form of organic integral ethnic nationalism based on European models to forge through state action from the top down a homogeneous Turkish nation that had not existed in that way before stretching from Somalia, and there may, through Anatolia to the board is a person. I also would argue that the choice of genocide was not inevitable. It didn't necessarily flow out of the young turk vision of a Heron folk, dominant by one nationality Empire, dominated by the Turks. Ultimately, genocide is a choice, that kind of extreme radical politics of trying to achieve absolute securitisation. That's something that the young turks brought upon themselves, destroying Armenians, they did it by their own choice in their own bizarre, pathological, perverse effect of disposition of creating Armenians as an external enemy within their country.
What I'm arguing here is that nationalism can serve positively at times to create a coherent, motivate, did mobilized bubble group striving for liberation from colonial oppression, and Armenian nationalism was that in the Dutch neck situation in the Hitchcock party and others, but it can also serve to create an imperial mentality that justifies and excuses the oppression of a favored group over another. When a national mentalities inclusive, tolerant, democratic in orientation, the kind of nationalism imagined by liberal nationalist it is likely to abhor violence over others, and one of the theorists of liberal nationalism. The Israeli scholar yell time here claims that national membership I'm quoting, unlike membership in a gender, class or region, thus enables an individual to find a place not only in the world in which he or she lives, but also in an uninterrupted chain of being nationhood promotes fraternity both among fellow members and across generations, it in gals human action with meaning that endures over time, thus carrying a promise of immortality, unquote. That's great. Not all Israelis, of course, believe in that kind of fraternal and harmonious view, and can in fact, engage in repression and occupation of Palestinians. When they work, nations must feel like a community with powerful subjective identifications of individuals with whole nations are always not felt as free individual choices as Margaret Canavan writes, but experienced as a destiny. And it's powerful. It's probably the most powerful modern identity we have. And nations work most powerfully precisely when people are unaware that they've made choices to be part of the nation and they feel they're acting in accordance with some natural order primordial ism, the constructed nature of the nation does by most people is suppressed and the nation becomes in the popular imagination, a product not of history, but of nature. calculation is suppressed feelings are heightened, like nationalism, create, right Stuart Kaufman is in some sense of religion for the nationalist the nation is God, a jealous God, to Whom one pays homage venerating its temples, monuments, relics, battle flags, and theology, including a mythical history and receiving in return a sort of immortality as a participant in what is conceived as an eternal, eternal nation, unquote. Both the naturalness and the supernatural immortality of the nation are experienced within and because of the hegemonic power of what I've called the discourse of the nation, which justifies nationalism. As a young Armenian, born in assimilating America, I had heard, as many of you may have heard all through my growing up, particularly from my grandparents and guardians of the community, about the importance of preserving ethnic culture. unsure about what that entailed. I came to understand that within a culture, there are things that are simply unthinkable in terms of reason and morality rather than strict bounded harmonious within and sharply marked off at the edges from the next culture. As I and Jeff Healey have written in a book called becoming national, what looks from outside and from a distance as a bounded group appears when you're in that culture much more divided and contested at closer range. Culture, I want to say is more often than not what people share. It's more often not what people share culture is more often not what people share. But what they choose to fight over. Unquote. Are you really an Armenian? You don't know Armenian? So Well, how come you don't go to church? What kind of Armenian are you? The problem with nationalism is the choice? What kind of nationalism? Is it to be a liberal intolerant nationalism based on love, empathy, inclusion and pride? Or is it to be based on exclusion, a sense of superiority, and another kind of pride.
nations as I've tried to show have to be made. They are not simply given by God, nature, even history, language or ethnic origins. So the real question for us is, how are they being made? How are they being imagined? What kind of Armenia do we want to live in? What kind of Armenians do we want to be? Thank you.
Namaste, I would like to invite our discussing Dr. KASPARIAN. So see the floor is yours. Thank you very much, by the way, also run for that wonderful talk. Thank you.
Thank you, Sabu. And thank you to the Policy Institute for honoring me with this invitation. And my thanks to Professor sunny for this wonderfully rich and thought provoking talk, and the longer paper to which I'll address my comments. So I was struck as I read your paper, as I am when I read good history, by the parallels with the present day. Indeed, many of the themes in your presentation resonate with present a narratives and understandings. There is a sense of deja vu, for example, when we hear of how Ottoman Armenians, so family for support from their disinterested European friends, and the lack of engagement by global civil society in the recent war in art saw the increasing isolation of Armenians caught between the Empires also resonated with the profound loneliness expressed by Armenians in the recent war. Viewing the war through the lens of the continuing unraveling of empires and its colonial legacies is also illuminating. Although the age of historic empires is over, imperialism is far from dead. For example, in the case of Turkey, projecting itself as a pan Turkic pan Islamic power, with a sphere of influence extending transnationally feelings of belonging and subscribing to a group are also of course claimed and shared beyond state boundaries, as in the case with ethnic diasporas, but also beyond national boundaries, when religion or other identities become the unifying feature. Like many I was surprised by the level of popular and popular support that Turkey and Azerbaijan commanded far beyond their borders from Pakistan to Nigeria. In social media messages of enthusiastic support for the war, founded on a proceed shared pan Islamic identity, as well as a cult like following yverdon. More broadly, the paper reminded me that nationalism and nationhood might be felt or experienced as instinctive and natural, and dare I say it primordial, but are always directed by geopolitical socio economic and political realities, who your neighbors are and how they treat you, and perhaps more so for small nations. I wondered also whether small nations as inherently lacking in power and influence, have always to comply or acquiesce or risk being disciplined or humiliated by empires or hegemonic What then are the implications for nationalisms, or nationalist projects of small nations? I really like this idea that nationalism is both an ally and enemy of history. So on the one hand, you showed us how nationalism helps to construct a coherent national story binds people together in meaningful ways, give some sense of belonging and so on. But on the other hand, nationalism also distorts and simplifies lived realities. I also really like this idea that good history on settles you. And I wondered whether could history also requires good students, the maturity, openness and integrity, to hear and learn that which is uncomfortable and challenging. For history gets to the heart of who we were, who we are and who we wish to be. Image matters whether to ourselves or to others. So Scotland, where I have lived for the past 10 years is another small nation population of 5 million. The national narrative in recent years has had to grapple with and reconcile two seemingly contradictory notions that get to the heart of the Scottish nation. Firstly, that Scotland has suffered from the English yoke of imperialism and secondly, that Scotland was an active part and beneficiary of the British Empire. Even the street I live on is named after a Scottish slave trafficker.
So the desire for Scottish independence has to accommodate both these pictures of the past the anti colonial progressive desire for self governance and the less than glorious history of oppressing others and benefiting from their oppression. Similarly, a significant part of Scottish nationalism is about distinguishing itself from the English other. For example, Scotland's as portrayed as a pro European, pro migrant, social democratic, in contrast, portraying England as xenophobic, right wing regressive and stuck in the past. Therefore, it would seem that even the Civic nationalism that Scotland prides itself on has elements of ethno nationalism, at least when it comes to their southern neighbor. So history perhaps more than any subject has the potential to construct the nation and future generations. And your paper highlights the crucial role played by schools. So it matters if we don't teach the history of empire histories of women, subaltern histories, histories of indigenous people, because the silences and absences then manifest in our societies in profound and destructive ways. As we see history and the academy and more widely, being decolonized, we see hegemonic power structures and narratives being questioned and dismantled. History can therefore be reduced to a tool by a nationalist state. But it also carries within it the potential to challenge and undo it. No wonder then, that states are so intent on maintaining control of national histories. I want to move on to relating some of the themes emerging in your paper to the more recent situation in Armenia. And here, I want to think about how our understanding of history affects our present day but also our future. The recent war and outside was both portrayed and experienced within a historical framework. So we saw a very clear, recent example of history and forming the present in terms of emotions, narrations and understandings. The legacies of the genocide and other historical violence in the Armenian experience, hold very real resonance for present day Armenians, not just in Armenia and artsakh, but in the global nation, and the plight of the outside harming and was framed and felt as the latest wave in a long history of dispossession. And here, of course, the significance of active Turkish military involvement cannot be overestimated as triggering this connection to the genocide. The pervasiveness and level of hate mobilized against Armenians on social media, the intimidation and aggression on the streets, not just of Azerbaijan and Turkey, but of Europe and America, by gray wolves and so on, of course, escalated this. This will galvanized our minions not only in our southern Armenia but also in the diaspora, in a manner unprecedented by any other event in modern Armenian history. So here, particularly from the transnational dimension, I wonder as constructivists as modernists, how we explain this intensity of emotion. On the one hand, the level of hatred and mobilization unleashed by global supporters of the wall of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and on the other hand, a global solidarity among Armenians, many of whom were far removed from diaspora or national infrastructure. This is an aspect of the rational passion, you speak off the effective expression of national identity and affective disposition, a feeling you say with consequences, is it linked to the form of remedial political action, that brubacher talks of, and seen as a necessary response to a perceived crisis or a need of that moment?
The worst kinds of nationalisms, we agree therefore, fuel a situation where antagonistic nations construct and reproduce narratives, and belief systems, which exclude or demonize the other, and also then lose the possibility of non antagonistic contact with the other. So the logical conclusion is the erasure of the other whether culturally, politically or physically. We know that exclusionary nationalist narratives of history prevail in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Memories of terrible atrocities, violence and dispossession, are revived and coalesce to reinforce ideas of the other as the enemy who transcends time and context. If we agree that mutually antagonistic nationalisms built on exclusionary histories, that belittle or demonize the other, will reproduce polarization and animosity. How do we start thinking about alternative approaches, or indeed, other histories or national histories? even thinking about trying to understand the historic roots of this war, and make space for the other in the national story, are almost inconceivable in the present climate? Perhaps it is too raw and too soon to contemplate. But as a small nation, contemplate it, we surely must. History and historians have a crucial role here, and one that cannot be usurped by nationalists. Professor Soni through your distinguished scholarship, but also through your pioneering actors of activism with the watts project, which sebou mentioned. For those who don't know, the long running workshops on Armenian Turkish studies. I wondered whether there are useful parallels and insights you could share. Writing shared histories that engage with the other in full on comfortable on settling realities can be an emancipatory project, in my own involvement in a much smaller parts group in London, and this was the project for Armenian and Turkish studies. Inspired by watts 15 years ago, we consciously positioned ourselves in a post nationalist space. This was experienced as a space where we constructed friendship and solidarity based on shared common understanding of the genocide and a desire for a common future. Ones that healed its fracture, but also harked back to periods of coexistence and conviviality in history that you talked about in your paper, those heady days, at least for me, have given away to a fear that these civil society projects are inevitably confined to the few and cannot seriously challenge authoritarian states and had in mind nationalisms peacemakers engaged in Armenia and Azerbaijan have also expressed huge disappointment about the lack of progress made by bridge building initiatives confined to the few and not seeping into mainstream society. Indeed, young Armenians and Azerbaijanis have lived apart for decades and lack the older generations experience of sharing space, albeit with tension. By demonizing the other, this form of nationalism robs geographic neighbors of being neighborly or familiar, of encountering the other in the mundane ways and on their own terms, getting to know them as intimate strangers by virtue of sharing space and histories, and also robs the nation and the self have the opportunity to be expansive and evolving. As the paper demonstrates nations as imagined communities are always to some extent under construction. And the question remains, if I could quote, Professor Sunni, by what kinds of nationalisms
Thank you very much. So see, very, very wonderful textured response and series of reflections to an equally wonderful, Distinguished Lecture. So I will leave, I will let Ron respond to some of the issues that you raised. And then I have a couple of questions myself, and then we will launch into the question. One, would you like to tackle some of the questions that societally put out there for us?
First, let me thank sociate for those remarks, and I want sosi to give the comments on all my future lectures and papers, if she would be so kind, because that was one of the best and most thoughtful responses, also generous. Now I happen to know so see, and I, I know her and her character, and those don't know her, it was reflected in the seriousness, the intellectual quality, and the generosity of what she did. That's a mark of good scholarship. And that's something we need more of. I remember one some years ago, being brought by, actually by the Dutch oxygen to some meeting, where I was castigated for some of the things I've been saying. And the first thing I said was, before Armenians Can, can understand how to have conversations with Turks, Armenians need to learn to speak respectfully among themselves. Right. And this is still a problem. So I want to thank you for that beautiful thing. You collect the absolute intentions and subtext of my talk, the resonance were deliberate. I didn't tackle the question of, of the moment of karbach. And the defeat in that recent war, that hurt and suffering of Armenians, not only those who directly suffered in, in the caucuses, but in but all over the world. But it's there. And it's a kind of attempt to warn. So the talk does, though it stops with the genocide. It does talk about the present day narratives, the exclusive nationalisms, the neglect of the great powers. Look, I'm no enemy of Russia. I've spent my whole life studying it. But look, how Russia acted in this war, how they sat on the sidelines, and waited until the Armenians were almost totally crushed. And then entered gi geopolitics national self interest, obviously overcome, as it often does in politics, look at the impeachment trial going on right now. goes beyond morality, and so forth. So I am thinking about the current situation. sosi asked very interestingly, what about the dilemma of small nations? And how does nationalism work for them? Well, nationalism, once it sort of was released, once this discourse of the nation occurred, suddenly, even those small peoples who Marx and Engels called you shish Lhasa, fulica, you know, that is history, less people suddenly found they didn't have a history, and that they existed. And everybody now is a nation, even the tiniest people, right? So now the cat is out of the bag. Pandora's box has been open. And and everyone can claim to be a nation and have rights and politics and even states of their own and small islands in the Pacific also can become nation. So that's the story. There is a dilemma. Small nations not only know that they can disappear, but full nations know that their agency is limited, is restricted, and that they have to deal with the great powers, particularly in their neighborhood. years ago, I was taught when Soviet when Soviet Union was collapsing, and Armenians invited me to get him on to give a talk. And they were so proud of their independence movement, they hadn't yet gotten independence. They said, What do you think of this, and I said, I cannot imagine Armenia without Russia. We live in a dangerous neighborhood. And of the various powers there, we have to associate with him, it turns out, Iran is one of the better supporters of, of Armenia, because of its antagonism in this odd, bizarre way with Azerbaijan than Russia proved to be in this case, but there is no Armenia without Russia. Sadly, Russia is the major arbiter in this area, and Armenia has had to accommodate itself to Russian great power. And it turned out in this war, which Armenians did not lose, because of cowardice, or not fighting hard enough, they lost because their drones were not as good as the by Rockstar drones of the Turks, or the Israeli drones that the Azerbaijan said. And so it was a technical defeat a technical war. And all of that has to be understood.
I very much like your analogy with Scotland. And the way Scott people Scottish people have, again, this kind of dilemma of how do they deal with England, which has, in fact led to their prosperity, you know, the whole essay in view of Tom Nairn? Why wasn't Scottish nationalism so strong in the 19th century in the so called age of nationalism, because they they weren't doing so badly with England, and then later it develops into into what it is today. So one has to deal small nations. And Scotland is bigger than Armenia. But small nations have to deal with these great powers and be realistic about what is possible. How do the constructivist explain the intensity of motions in the emotions? I'm going to say a word that's only going to get me again thought of is dava. JOHN as a trader, but it's my take on this recent situation. And in some ways, I shared this with some of my colleagues, I did it by region, but I won't speak for him. I'll talk to him about my own thing. When a country smaller, large, wins a war. It then has the possibility of greater agency of the greater possibility of acting in some way. The Armenians had that in 1994. And for all those years, from 1994 until 2020, they had more of a possibility of compromising and making a deal. And there were attempts by Levon to petrossian, you remember, and you know how that ended up? Then then any other group, the Israelis have a greater possibility of making a deal and bringing real peace in that area, then do the Palestinians they have the cards in their hand? And yet there's a perverse incentive if you win the war? Why should you agree, you won, and Armenian, some Armenians at least after 1994 and after the taking of those seven districts in Azerbaijan,
thought of themselves almost as an imperial power, almost as another Israel.
If Israel could do this, why couldn't we do it? And they even thought of colonizing some of those areas didn't work out so well. And ultimately, those visions, those kinds of nationalisms, which even the more democratic regime under, pushing young, Harvard, prevented the kind of of creative, gutsy brave initiatives that might have made the situation better. Now, I don't know the details of the negotiation. Azerbaijan may have been resistant to any compromise. They had their own inability to act because they had generated and ginned up a kind of anti Armenian nationalism. Azerbaijani nationalism, which was quite weak after the fall of the Soviet Union was a reactive nationalism that fed on anti arminianism and the losses in the quarterback war. So it makes it very difficult. Yet I because I'm a basically optimistic person. I think there were moments there must have been moments in all of those years, that there were possibilities of compromise. I remember going to Armenia and giving a talk on inter Caucasian cooperation etc. And the people It's when they live together and talking about compromise and compromise was a dirty word. No one wanted compromise, it was anathema to even talk about it. So exclusivist nationalisms, exclusivist national histories. You know, Azerbaijanis talk about Armenia present day Armenia, post Soviet Armenia, as Western Azerbaijan. Right. So, you know, there's a way in which it's going to be extraordinarily difficult in this moment. But Armenians can take some pride. And I'm going to end with this because there's so many good questions here. But I'll end with this. Armenians can take some pride. They are and we're a democratic nation. Sadly, in this war, a repressive dictatorial state defeated a democratic state, where indeed was the United States, and others who claim to defend democracy at that moment. Sadly, for us, it was the Trump administration. And they could care less, since they have allies, like MBs. in, in, in Saudi Arabia, the destroyer of Yemen and other places. So, you know, we're in a kind of dilemma. The real world is cruel. And Armenia lives in a dangerous and difficult neighborhood. And it must depend on allies like Iran, and like Russia, who can't be that dependable all the time, who have their own, often contradictory, interests and ambitions.
So I have a couple of questions I would like to pose run. But before that, once again, let me reiterate how grateful I am and we are for having you as our distinguished lecture today. This is a wonderful, very smooth, and marvelously textured discussion that opens up all sorts of possibilities and questions. So the questions I have for you are twofold. One, they're both history graphic in nature. So first question is, I've always wondered why 1983, as you mentioned, was such a vintage year for a scholarship on nationalism. Obviously, three major works came out in that year, you mentioned all of them. Ben Anderson's the late Ben Anderson's imagined communities, which To this day, is a formidable and important work, probably the most important work published on the field in the last 60 years, maybe ever, followed by gilders. foundational work, and the co authored edited volume by tense Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm, in here, one could also add an essay in that same vintage year by another scholar of nationalism, Anthony Smith. So the question, of course, that immediately comes to mind as a historian, is the question of why, why in 1983, specifically, was this such a healthy crop of works on nationalisms that we still discuss today? So on this question, I've posted before, and I've heard various responses, the one that I like that I believe in, I think, and one that I would want you to I would invite you to consider as well, is that it has something to do, as you also mentioned in your talk, with events that happened four years earlier, in more and more, particularly in 1979, as we know, from David Harvey's excellent book on neoliberalism 1979 was the year in which neoliberalism as a philosophy and a movement is said to have been more or less birth. We have dung Xiao Dong XIAO PING in China Reagan here, right out Carter actually with with I think the fed the Federal Reserve appointment that he made and so on which unleashed and unshackled any controls over capitalism and that initiated a period of robust globalism. And so the question I have, of course, for myself is, I think there is a, almost a one to one correlation between the periods of history in which there is a rise of globalism and globalism fueled by neoliberalism, and periods of intense activity on nationalism as a scholar in the field and of resurgence recidivists, typically resurgent nationalism, and of course 2016 is a year in a case in point in the sense of globalism and neoliberalism together unleashing a wave of power You have this nationalisms across the world. So I'd like you, maybe to comment on that first. And then my second question is more personal to you and intellectual in terms of your intellectual biography. And that is that a theme that you've raised numerous times today, and one that sociaux also alluded to, is the theme of the emotive element in nationalism. But it's not only an element within nationalism itself or national national sentiment, but it's also something that one could argue began as a kind of methodological shift in the late 90s and early 2000s, that one could call for lack of a better term, the emotive term. In other words, the influence of affection, ideas, feelings, and so forth in scholarship. In someone who was a Marxist scholar or Marxism, who looks at nationalism, you were not known before the 2000s force, making room or accommodating for emotions is an aspect of your analysis, most Marxists are not really effectively predisposed. So my question to you is, could you comment on that and the role of the emotive tenant on your own development as a thinker of nationals?
Thank you. So but but first, never generalize about Marxist. If you have to Marxist, you have six points of view. We are not real, like any other imagined community. And we have all kinds of discussions. I wrote a paper not too long ago called what's left of Marx trying to figure out what I can still claim and what we have to discard, etc. So there are lots of things going on there. Let me take that second question first, and then I'll go backwards. So the emotive element there, my own evolution was the following. I was hired in the early 1990s, a 1994, by the University of Chicago, to teach in a political science department. I'm not a political scientist, I wasn't trained. But I couldn't resist the, the offer, it was a wonderful thing. I was kind of a superannuated graduate student off I went. And I learned that in American Political Science, the major explanatory method was rational choice theory. So in political science wanted to be a science, they thought economics had found the rules. And then therefore, everything was we're all rational actors, we're trying to maximize our utilities, and so forth and so on. And as I played with that, and thought about it, and it's a very powerful theory, it's a reductive theory, it has to eliminate a lot of the real world. I thought, Wait a minute, what about the emotional or affective side? So I taught a course at Chicago, which is one of the glorious universities where everything is possible. They they said, teach, I taught a course on emotions in politics, and began to investigate this. And roughly around that time, there was also this emotive turn in history. It's kind of founded in a way it's there, but not there. It's it's many rivulets rather than a mainstream thing. But that's how I got interested. Well, if you're going to talk about nationalism, then then then you have to talk about emotion. Because it's all about the emotional language and the emotional effects and the movements which mobilize people by emotions, etc. So it seemed to me that was how I made that choice and why ultimately, I began to see the nation not as simply an imagined community, as an effective community that's bound together through these emotional affiliations and ties. So that's, that's that. Now if I continued that to your other question, then you you see the point is also that Benedict Anderson, when he wrote that book, he tells you why he wrote that book. He wrote that book, because there was a problem among Marxists. Why was China? Why were China and Vietnam to Marxist state to Marxist Leninist states fighting a war with each other? How can they they couldn't find some kind of internationalist connection. Right. And, and so he embarked on this book on nationalism. So he came from a very specific question. So 1979 Yes, that move toward Neo liberalism, Thatcherism and reaganism? Yes, 1979, suddenly, the first conservative Revolution, the revolution of a Ayatollah is Iran, something new is in the world. But that was a moment of course, 1979 of the victory of the almost unquestioned rightness of globalization and neoliberalism. And so it's funny that it kind of dialectical contradiction, that interest in the academy would turn toward nationalism since nationalism seemed to be, as Eric Hobsbawm wrote at the end of his book, you know, flying off into the net lands and never, never not important, you have to change that in later later editions, right. So there are a lot of things going on the second wave of the interest in nationalism, and by the way in Empire, again dialectically was in 1991 when we got rid of the last Empire of the Soviet Union, right, so the Empire disappears. And suddenly scholars who have nothing better than to do then look at what doesn't isn't around anymore, began to study Empire. And it was very fruitful, actually, they were also looking in the study of empire for alternatives to the destructive nation states and ethnic cleansing that have taken place in the 1990s. Right. So the scholarship in some ways on nationalism anticipates what will become a powerful wave of nationalism and ethnic conflict in the 1990s. With the disappearance of the socialist alternatives, and the victory of globalization and neoliberalism. That's about the best I can do on that. I hope that answers your question. Yeah.
The second edition of Anderson's book, by the way, which is a better edition was published in 92, if I'm not mistaken, so not to reduce scholarship as a one to one correlate of political and other events. But there's something to be said there, I think. But thank you so much. So I will now invite me to pose some questions that we have received from the audience, and then I'll follow up for me.
Great, thank you so much, Sabu. And my thanks as well to Ron and to sosi, for a fascinating lecture and discussion. We have a large number of questions, I am quite sure we will not get to all of them. But let me pose the first one that actually was sent to us in advance from Godot, Han Ariana of Rutgers University. He notes the recent war that we have discussed that you have discussed already and asks Professor Sunni, what kind of Armenian nationalism does Professor Sunni and vision in light of the Armenian experience? over 1000s of years actually in Anatolia and in the Caucasus, can Armenians exist? Could they or we ever exist without land? Or are we destined to become like the Assyrians called DNS, he has EDS and so forth?
Well, that's a wonderful question. Thank you. First of all, there, my view expressed in the lecture is Armenian, naturalism should be more cosmopolitan, more liberal, more tolerant, more open, if they thought more seriously about how they're made as a nation, the variety of Armenians that exists, we are not simply a landed nation, we have a territory there is a state of Armenia. Now, there are places with large Armenian populations in France, let's say in the United States, you California in LA. in Istanbul, one of the most interesting populations is the population of the Armenians in Istanbul, one of the most active, so we have locations, but we are also a dysphoric or diasporic nationality as well. So for me, the Armenian nationalism, the one that would be most productive, and you can find it in post Soviet Armenia as well, is the is the one that is more open, more accepting of difference, it really does exist, particularly among younger generations, which want to be more modern, more Western, more open, more creative in their thinking. There's a real difference between the people, the old, some older generations, many of the first nationalists in our media, were the old communists. They weren't they were people that if you go back to the 1980s, and 1990s, these were these were really retrograde people. And partly the Soviet legacy made them into these kinds of nationals, I'm sad to say, but but that would be the kind of Armenian nationalism that I will try to avoid. Once Armenia was victorious in the war, and identified with this struggle against not against Azerbaijan, particularly, by the way, it was also a period where they were more willing to open to the Turks, they were trying to open the frontier there. They, they began to develop what I would call a kind of Imperial nationalism, an extra territorial nationalism. And I thought that that is a disaster. Right? That was a disaster. So there are better ones, a cultural nationalism, one that accepts difference and diversity, which I think Armenians because we're so diverse, have have in their, in their communities. That has to be done. I know that in a place Like LA, you've got older Armenian communities post Soviet Armenian communities, there's been conflict between them. That's largely being dissipated, it seems to me if I know the histories of those we can we know that we can live together. And maybe this war, this defeat, is a bitter, bitter lesson to make us rethink the nature of Armenian nationalism going forward.
Thanks very much. Sabu. Do you have the next question?
Sure. Um, the question to run is, Armenians have often taken pride in their national identity and nationalism, never really examining the possibility that nationalism would lead to right wing and authoritarian politics. Do you think there is a right wing reactionary element that is prevalent throughout Armenian culture in Armenia in the diaspora? A bit of a generalization, but I will let you tackle it. Yeah.
So I, you know, as someone on the left, however, you define yourself. I've been against nationalisms, because I've seen the harm of them. In my lecture today, I tried to show and associated the so beautifully in her remarks about about Scotland, that you can't generalize that way that nationalism is so capacious a term, so varied in its manifestations, that it can be progressive, anti colonial, it can be culturally motivating. It can be liberal, and it can also be as the questioner mentions, right wing, exclusivist white supremacist racist. It can promote and exclude and we've seen that in so many ethno nationalisms, right. And we've seen that in Armenia, why I will insist again, I've done this in yet one itself, why is there a statue in the center of yet avant, to a fascist, to Nish death? who worked with the Nazis, right? I mean, this is an abomination. Luckily, they kept the statue of Stefan shaumyan, my hero, a good Bolshevik who suffered for his, his efforts. But But there's also a niche there. In other words, that you know, that song, what is it called? I forget the exact nationalism does exist. I bet it's it's it's a minority view. I would say this one thing, naturally, whether they're nationalist or not nationalists, whether the idea of calling for the collapse, and the resignation of the democratically elected government, even by the head of the church, is an abomination. We are a democracy, Armenia is a democracy, they suffered a defeat. The government had very little choice at the moment of defeat to do what it did. They may have made errors on the way to that war. But now you wait until elections and then go on. The coup against it was a democratic coup in a way but the coup against temperate Russian was one of the worst moments in the modern post Soviet history of Armenia. Armenia today as a post Soviet country is a country that didn't necessarily have much aggressive, imperialist nationalism. Because of the nature of the Soviet Union, which didn't permit such things. It was all about doing one out of friendship of the peoples. But the Soviet experiences I've written about did produce a large national coherence and nationalism. And ultimately, as it fell, and war and and the new state was born in war, it took on a certain coloration. So one could examine how the nationalist currents of post Soviet Armenia developed into what they are today. That's that's a historical project, not mine, particularly, but that's something that we can also investigate.
You and you want to
Yes, thank you. Ron. This question comes from a hair my hair Yun, in this current ultra nationalist postwar Society of Armenia today, how do we start a discussion about living in peace, and coexisting with our neighbors? How do we get out of this endless cycle of seeking revenge and liberating historic Armenian territories?
That is the most Thank you about her for the most difficult and maybe impossible question. Historians like looking backwards, not forwards. But we look into the past to try to understand the present and maybe from that database, the only one, we have a very Find out what are the possibilities right? And there are possibilities. I would say the first thing and I have no fine, firm answer is self examination, start questioning. How did this happen, not blaming, but seriously as historians, and as political scientists, as economists or whatever, psychologists, let's look and see what how we got into this situation, what might have been avoided, and then maybe people can begin to think of ways out. Armenia has greater strengths in many ways than Azerbaijan. And then Turkey. Turkey is a state that is on its way to failure. I'll predict that the economy is failing, the popularity of air Dewan is collapsing. And they use this war, to beat themselves up to boost themselves, but that's temporary. Azerbaijan is a repressive dictatorship, which has now been resuscitated from its more abundant state, not by oil money, which has kept it working all this time. But by a successful war, and, and the generation of this new anti Armenian nationalism to a fever pitch, how long will that be sustained? There are ways Armenia is in some ways a healthy state, in its own desperate weakness at the moment, because it is democratic, because civil society all through the years of the mafia that controlled it, under corchado, young and under his his successor Sarkisyan, under that mafia, civil society, was bravely in existence and protested, kept the academies open, talked about things, Armenia is a much healthier society, in recent years, even in this defeated moment, over there in despair at the moment, and I'm in despair at the moment, then then Azerbaijan, and then Turkey, we don't have hundreds of journalists in prison, as those two countries do. Our future, in many ways, depends not only on Russia, but on the democratising census tendencies that are more urban now in Turkey, and in Azerbaijan. They're crushed at the moment. The Turkey, the Kurdish movement, which is the most democratic movement of the head, they pay the HDP party is now largely in jail, its leaders in jail, but they're there. In Russia, there is a reverse a revival of the Democratic resistance to the to put it within a voluntary movement. how successful it will be, we know that the Belarus one, which we might have talked about a few months ago is largely now off the streets. But there's a movement in the world that always makes me of young people makes me happy. Burma at the moment, Myanmar, in Thailand, in in Russia, even at the moment, and elsewhere. So we've got to look for those things. And Armenia. I would say I'm going to end with this here, where this question is basically a healthy society that now should self examine itself critically. Wonderful, thank
Would you like to pose the next one or
the next question comes to us from Perry Bloom? And the question is, didn't the 19th century French philosopher, Ernest Becker now write an influential essay in the 19th century entitled, what is a nation cancer gene nauseum published in 19, in 1882, as a lecturer at the Sorbonne, I'm just adding that myself because I like this essay, personally, to a great extent. So the question is, to what extent did this essay inspired the 20th century considerations of the question of nationalism?
Well, I am a tremendous admirer of that essay, and Jeff Elian even republished it in, in our book becoming nationalism, which I urge you all to buy. They're charging too much money for it, but still, it's a great collection of essays. That essay was a constructivist essay. That essay 100 years before the date that we've mentioned 1983 101 years earlier, made these arguments. It's a fantastic essay, and you remember Sabu and others who have read it, and the questioner has certainly read it. That in fact he says the nation is a daily plebiscite. In other words, every day that we think about the nation that we pledge allegiance that we talk about it that we argue over what America is it, is it a country of immigration and openness? Give me your tired, your poor, or is it a country that builds walls and keeps out people who need asylum? What we're always debating this nations are works in progress, a daily plebiscite, they're never finished. And it is not inevitable that Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenia and Turkey, and Turks and Kurds will always be enemies, because they haven't been in history. They've also lived together for millennia. So these things are possible. The war in Iraq is largely the product of the collapse of the Soviet Union. And the way it collapsed. And, and the aftermath, oh, there were incidents before, in 1980s, with the collapse of the czarist Empire away, but none of that was inevitable. And the failure of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev to solve that problem within the shape of the Soviet Union, the framework of the Soviet Union led not only not only contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its disintegration, but to the aftermath, the legacy, which was this war, which goes on to the present time.
And, of course, the essay also mentions, Ron, as you know, very well, that more than the glories of the past, it is the pain experienced in the past that defines a nation. And I think maybe that way, that could be an interesting opening to what kind of a nation we want to be, we want to be a nation that is not defined by the worst that has been given to us or dished out to us as recently as, as our keynote for carabas conference mentioned.
right elbow, you remind me, what's the big phrase he says? He said, You have to forget. It's not only what you remember, but it's what you forget, the French don't remember the st. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. They do, actually, but they're supposed to forget it. Because they're hard parts in your history, that you don't want to remember that where you yourself carried out aggressions, you know, and so forth. So, okay, you go, unfortunately for historians, our job is to dig it those wounds and show us that look, nobody's perfect. Nobody, there are no saints and, and devils in this world. We're all black and white. Some have committed really horrible things like genocide, and others have suffered as victims. That's true. Let's not make false equivalence. But no one is completely innocent. We're all actors in history. And we can all remember and create histories that tell us good things, and ways out of problems, and others that will get us into problems.
Sure things. And you want to take that next? Yes.
This question comes from hot chick, dear, hello, Gaussian. This question pertains to collectivity and collective identity. What makes an identity consistently collective throughout history for a given people, more specifically, what made the Armenian identity collective throughout history? I think you alluded a bit to this earlier in your talk,
right? So nation, just like earlier, ethno national communities or whatever, our collective identities. And the nation I'm arguing is a specific kind of one where culture gives you the right to politics. And it's a modern one in that full sense. Not that there are examples one way or another, or in sabew's work, that confessional ism in the early modern period gave you a kind of collective identity and so forth. Identity However, it's tricky. Some people have thrown that turn out like Rogers Bru Baker and Fred Cooper, but I use it and I think it's valuable to try to understand what it means. And it's useful. Any collective identity, any group identification, any group formation requires inclusion, somewhere inside, but also exclusion. And that's, that's part of the problem. How do you exclude and how exclusive is the exclusion? Or is it possible that the borders of the inside and the outside are more fluid, porous and accepting of the other. And yet here, the United States at its best moments, or Canada even better, is a good example of countries that accepted diversity that accepted people into it right? Again, the Statue of Liberty and its motto, but there has been that other tendency the know nothing. Party, the anti Chinese movements, the anti semitic movements in this country, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist, racist, Donald Trump and his followers 74 million people voted for Donald Trump. You know, we have a deep problem in this country. Luckily, 78 million or so voted for Biden, but so a majority didn't. But still, that's a lot. That's a lot of exclusionary feeling, and almost undemocratic feeling that has some way be reflected. So So group collectivity is important, but under, but the real thing is, how are they imagining that collectivity, on the basis of a church, on the basis of a of a confession on the basis of national culture, on the basis of a more inclusive or exclusive opening or fluidity of borders? That's what's important. And Anderson says this, it's the style in which you imagine your community. That's, that's important. All communities are a match.
I'd like to correct the historical record, I believe, 80 to 82 million voted against?
I'll take that sounds good.
45. That's all I can say. I will follow up with a question that dovetails nicely with what Ron said, and I'll jump ahead of the queue. And that question comes to us from ritsema antonian. Chicago? And it is that how and where do we draw the line between nationalism in patriotism? Are those two concepts overlapping in any way?
No, actually, I would not say they are. Now, nationalism, and patriotism has meant different things. But there's a wonderful book by a Princeton political philosopher named Maurice Morris, or more detail violi VI, r o l i. And it only makes an argument that I use in my book, it's a wonderful argument. Patriotism is about love for the Patria, the homeland, the people, the nation, if you will, whatever. But it means when the pacetti are when the homeland when the people are doing the right thing, when they are good republicans when they are good Democrats, when they are virtuous. And you find this even in somebody like Machiavelli, the nationalist involves understanding I will simplify, maybe he wouldn't accept this is my country right or wrong? You know, that's the nationalist. a patriot is my country when it's right. And I'll work to make it right. So that's one understanding. Now, there are other ways you can define patriotism. In a book that I wrote with with Valerie Kittleson called Russia's empires. We argue in the Russian case that patriots largely nobles were those who identified with the state, the Empire, the Tsar, the dynasty. And later nationalists were ones who began to move toward a notion that we identify with the people, the nonroad, the peasantry. So there are a variety of different ways that can be used in historiography, but I like that one. Patriots are my country when it's right, I'm going to work hard to make it right. Whereas nationalists are more my country right or wrong.
One can, of course, also say that patriotism is based on love of one's own nation and patreon people, whereas nationalism is based on the hatred of the alterity of the others. So one is based on love, the other one is based on one is positive one is negative.
I think you can use it all kinds of ways. I remember being years ago, in the 1960s, I'm older than you think, in the 1960s, sitting in the Marxism leninism Institute in Yerevan in good Soviet times, and they were having a discussion and they allowed me to come in, and it was on I was gonna say to john and heighten Acero tune, and one was called patriotism, or I'm translated patriot patriotism. It was central to it. And the other was nationalism. I was gonna say origin love for your nation, right? And this was important because in under Marxism leninism in the Soviet Union, you could be a patriot, but you couldn't be a nationalist and oil what a discussion. They couldn't get these things together if it didn't make sense. All kinds of things were thrown in the mix. It was so interesting to see that they were seriously trying to debate that so there are all kinds of ways that terms can be used.
So thank you, and should I can I can I ask the next one and then we can switch back because it dovetails right in well Ah, and I'm from Florida Uighurs and the question is if hating Armenians is part of how Azeris and Turks feel and identify themselves what are the chances of peace among Azeri, Turks and Armenians?
Very good question. There is nothing natural or organic or genetic about Azerbaijanis or Turks hating Armenians. But at a certain moment, with under certain conditions under certain leadership's for their own political purposes to maintain their power. Those leaders like Alia Ilham Aliyev, or everyone will use Auntie arminianism to solidify them in moments of potential weakness. Now, I have spent a long time and SOC mentioned watts the workshop on Armenian Turkish scholarship. When we started that around the year 1999 and 2000. It was hard to get Armenians to come to talk to Turks. What we did find were progressive Turks, and Kurds who were willing to come to our meeting in our very first meeting held in Chicago in 2000. To talk about the genocide, Armenians were saying to us, no, no, you got to first recognize the genocide, then we'll talk. And I'm saying Baba, first, what we got to do is get people together to talk and find out what genocide means and how they understand it and all the rest. And we got these progressive turns, they did come at the time, most of them had once been imprisoned or tortured, or escaped or whatever. But they came even from Istanbul. And I learned through the years, the 11, conferences, 10 conferences that we've done to watch that there is a civil society in Turkey, particularly young people, not only in scholars, okay, they're a minority, I would agree. But they understand and they're questioning this thing. And they were developing now after 2016, and the coup against the failed coup against everyone. And everyone's moved toward greater repression, censorship, and so forth. The movement and our discussions about the genocide has, has dissipated, we can't do what we could do up to 2015 when we actually had the watts conference in Istanbul. Interestingly enough, I asked the Genocide Museum at the time, in Yerevan, let's have a meeting like this in Yerevan at your Museum, and they said we're not ready for so Armenians also are trying to develop, there is an anti Turkish bias and Azerbaijani bias, perfectly understandable, given our historical experience among Armenians. Can we get over it? And can Azerbaijanis and Turks get over? With the right leadership, the right kinds of histories, the right kinds of civil society dialogues? You can? It's not easy, because we're in a conflictual situation at the moment.
Very interesting. So this next question comes to us from Perry bloom. How does the modern constructivist conception of nation explain the many centuries long nationhood of a place like Switzerland, which contains within it quite distinct cultures based on different regions?
Yes, I actually deal with Switzerland in in my book, in fact, and Switzerland is a really good case what you have in Switzerland are different cantons, different language groups, different city states like Geneva, and so forth. So that that ultimately decided in the 19th century, well, there are earlier confederations to become a kind of state, and to become in a full form, and multinational state, that is a state of nations of different nations, sort of like Canada, but even in a more extreme way, sort of like India, but in a more extreme and fixed way. So you can look at the traditions of Switzerland, very interesting tradition, or William Tell, and their their struggle for independence or, or whatever. You know, what other Swiss traditions you have certain kinds of cheeses and cuckoo clocks, there's a lot of good things, a lot of good things, right. neutrality, right. Finally, they gave the winning the vote, I think sometime in the 1990s. So they took their time about being fully democratic, in some cases, literally only a little while ago. But but that it fits perfectly well. The story of fits with Switzerland in the way a nation is constructed cobbled together from earlier elements. nations are not made out of whole cloth. They're not imagined into existence, they may be imagined communities. But as a friend and colleague of mine, Romans Warlick said to me many years ago, they are not imaginary communities, once they're imagined, they come into existence. They get institutions. They get schools that teach the natural language and the National mythologies and the National histories, they become as real as any community can be. The only real communities are imagined communities.
our next question comes from showing titanium. And it's a good one. The question is, Dr. Sunni, isn't there a difference between the nationalism of small nations that could stem from survival and the nationalism of big nations? Big nation nationalisms can, of course, be dangerous, but can't nationalism in small nations, such as Armenia, be actually a requirement to be able to continue without losing its collective identity?
Our good point, and it sounds like a Leninist point. Let him himself and Lenin is one of my favorites. I'm sorry to say that, but let it I have my critic criticism of Lenin, but in general on nationalism, he was really interesting and you should read him. Lenin always was opposed to great Russian chauvinism, or called it sometimes great power chauvinism. That is, he was against the Imperial nationalism, of great states that crushed and repressed small nations. And he defended unlike Stalin later, small nation nationalism that would protect itself and fight against imperialism. decolonizing nationalism, so those distinctions are worthwhile. But no one's innocent. What if a small nation like Israel, in fact, conquers the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and represses and occupies palette the Palestinian lands? Not to mention what Israel originally was? What if Armenians in the war against Clutterbuck also take out districts outside of Clutterbuck and drive hundreds of 1000s of Azerbaijanis into exile in their own country, displaced peoples who are living in squalor in railroad cars, etc, creating resentment and anger and hostility and hatred toward their Armenian occupiers. Right? So small countries are not always so innocent. But it's big countries who have greater agency and greater ability to act.
In fact, I seem to recall that there was a book on the pride of small nations, but that was quite some time ago.
I don't know it, but and
Thank you. So I'll ask one last question. And then said, we will ask one. This comes from Professor Victor agajanian of UCLA. So the nationalism scholarship usually focuses on externalization of national expressions and identities, for example, Armenians versus Turks. But like many societies, Armenia is divided along internal socio economic lines, and these inequalities are only growing. So the question is, could you comment on how the Armenian elites then and now have used the nationalist rhetoric to assert and reinforce their privilege?
Excellent question. This one has a Marxist generation to it, okay. There are divisions, they are class divisions, regional divisions, gender divisions, all kinds of divisions within any country. nationalisms, in general play down those divisions, this was the major conflict between Marxist in the Russian Empire and elsewhere and nationalists throughout Europe in the late 19th century. In other words, matter, not only is nationalism, a great simplification, it's a masking. It's a covering over of social divisions. It says we're all the same. We're all Americans. We're all Armenians. That's it. That's enough. Don't worry about the divisions, worry about those guys outside. And that will be used by nationalists. You know, air Dewan. Let's take everyone. Everyone is a nationalist now. He had been against the kemalist and kemalist nationalism as an Islamic, but he's now married as so much of capitalism did Islam with Turkic nationalism, and so he needs to find external and internal enemies. And Turkey is actually a multinational state. Not only little groups of Armenians, a few Jews and If you if you Turks, there are levees, and there are millions of Kurds, millions of Kurds who are colonized, who called Kurdistan as to mitigate a colony of the Turks, right. And yet to deny those divisions, he creates nationalisms, and enemies outside. And Armenians inside, Armenians are an insignificant minority. In in, in Turkey, they're about 50 or 60,000. They're organized and they're conscious, they have a newspapers, and they have a printing press and they have a patriarchy, etc. But they are no threat and are to to Turkey. And yet, the Turkish government, the Turkish elite, and the nationalists use Armenians, as if they are some kind of again, as the young turks did, in the early 20th century, an existential threat to the future of the Republic. It's an outrage.
Okay, well, we are reaching the end of our period, and I'm sure our speaker has, is somewhat tired as well. I will ask a question now, if I can localize it. from us here that Binion our very own ASEAN dominion. And she thanks you for your talk. And she says, right at the moment when we are engaged in an intellectual discourse on nationalism, history and transnational solidarity among Armenians, we are mean social media is flooded by calls for, quote, unification against the traitors, unquote, both external and especially internal. Many Armenians post pictures of Guardian news day caption data, yes, M is a claim. And they also claim that Putin deceived the Armenians and so forth. So her question is, how do we deal with this emergency? How shall we as Armenians both in the in Armenia, as well as outside, overcome this collective trauma of loss and disappointment? How do we begin a conversation among ourselves, as Professor Sunni emphasized,
beautiful question as you and that that phrase you use, you know, this moment of loss. And so that's, that and and that that is a moment, a dangerous moment for a nation. Often it creates the kinds of senses of resentment, you know, we did not deserve that. And they don't deserve their victory and so forth. It's a it's a very dangerous moment. I was not aware, I don't follow social media, though. Obviously. One has to be an older person, and different generations do look for sources somewhere else. I religiously read the New York Times every moment and watch NPR, listen to NPR and watch PBS news and all those things. And so but but this, this is a day that is a dangerous moment and a dangerous phenomenon. What can you do about it? You can educate, you can send your own messages, you can expose exposure is a very good thing. Nobody's happy, any sensible person happy with what happened in in Washington on Armenian Christmas on January 6, the insurrection so called right, but that moment was an exposure. It stripped away all the pretense of Trump and trumpism. And maybe possible, you know, history goes in all kinds of ways, and is unpredictable. Maybe it will weaken his brand, so to speak. We need as historians as social scientists, and so forth. We need to carry out those kinds of exposures, those kinds of critical examinations, of our own frailties of our own dark spots, before we begin to tell the stories of the dark spots of others. So I don't think that's an easy thing. In a moment of despair and a moment of humiliation and defeat, you know, people will turn to all kinds of things stab in the back theories. Putin is the betrayer of Armenia, we are now a special people or some kind of, you know, special race by evolution and culture or whatever. No, no, we have this only makes social science and historians even more important in the present discourse in the present dialogue.
Thank you. Thank you for that wonderful talk and the discussion as well. To see this has given us a great deal to think about these were both very stimulating discussions and responses to our questions. This is a variable important contribution actually to all of us to our understanding of Armenian history in the context of what we are seeing today and I am grateful. We are all grateful to both of you for your contributions to this Distinguished Lecture. Let me close our webinar. Sorry, I to you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Let me close our webinar by announcing that we do have upcoming zoom based events that are sponsored by our promise Armenian Institute at UCLA. These include a lecture to be delivered on Wednesday, April 14 by Dr. Melissa Bilaal of UCLA, and titled feminism theology and liberation in Mari by Marion's writings. So we encourage you to attend that lecture, it will be advertised there will be information on our promise Armenian Institute website, and there will be additional events that if you add yourself to our email list by going to our website, you will hear about in addition to advert advertisement advertisements on social media. So again, thanks to all of you for your attendance at this Distinguished Lecture. We look forward to your participation in future events for the UCLA promise Armenian Institute. Thank you and good day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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