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Armenians Beyond DiasporaMaking Lebanon their Own$
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Tsolin Nalbantian

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474458566

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458566.001.0001

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The Homeland Debate, Redux: The Political–Cultural Impact of the 1946–1949 Repatriation to Soviet Armenia

The Homeland Debate, Redux: The Political–Cultural Impact of the 1946–1949 Repatriation to Soviet Armenia

Chapter:
(p.84) 2 The Homeland Debate, Redux: The Political–Cultural Impact of the 1946–1949 Repatriation to Soviet Armenia
Source:
Armenians Beyond Diaspora
Author(s):

Tsolin Nalbantian

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458566.003.0003

Chapter 2 deals with the 1946-1949 Soviet repatriation drive to collect all worldwide Armenians and “return” them to the ASSR and, specifically, the Lebanese Armenian political-cultural understandings of it. I explore how that initiative formed a chapter of Lebanese (and other Middle Eastern) Armenians’ renegotiation of national belonging in early post-colonial times. And although about a third of all Armenian repatriates travelled via Beirut, I also look at those who remained in Lebanon and in other countries in the Middle East. The emerging Cold War was more than a backdrop to this story. Heating up, the Cold War – and the very divergent readings of, and responses to, the repatriation initiative among Lebanese Armenians – reinforced tensions between Armenian rightists and leftists. Armenians’ response to repatriation did not simply reflect their extant political-cultural positions. Rather, repatriation sharpened those positions. Responses to repatriation echoed issues on the changing Lebanese/Syrian/Armenian identity complex at the dawn of the post-colonial nation-state. The responses to repatriation included a retelling and a reconstitution of the history of the tragedy of the genocide. They also automatically triggered questions about the location and nature of the Armenian homeland, adding fuel to the division between Dashnaks and Armenian leftists.

Keywords:   Repatriation, Armenian Socialist Soviet Republic (ASSR), Cold War, USSR, Lebanon, Syria, Beirut, Dashnak, Armenian Leftists, Joseph Stalin

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