Armenia: From Pre-modern Empires to the Present

History 177B

Fall 2018
130 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
Tue/Thu 9:30–11am
Class Number: 

This survey course will cover the period from the incorporation of most of the Armenian plateau into the Ottoman Empire to the present. Throughout most of this period Armenians lived in three pre-modern empires: the Persian, the Ottoman, and the Russian. As these political entities shaped Armenian life significantly, they will also serve as geographic subdivisions for the lectures of this course. In the twentieth century, two key events and their consequences will draw our attention. First, as a result of the Armenian Genocide, no Armenian population lives any more on most of the Armenian plateau and the size and characteristics of the pre-existing Armenian diaspora have changed dramatically. Second, the reluctant proclamation of a short-lived, independent republic on some parts of eastern Armenia in May 1918 laid the foundation for the subsequent Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and the current Republic of Armenia.

We will reflect upon a number of themes. First, what was the status of the Armenians in the pre-modern empires and how did it shape the rise of modern Armenian national consciousness? Second, what were the roots of the Armenian-Turkish polarization that put an end to centuries of cohabitation? Third, what are the legacies of the independent republic of 1918-20 and of Soviet Armenia for the current Armenian state? Fourth, how did the dispersion shape the culture, mentalities, socioeconomic development, and political culture of the Armenian people? Fifth, what does it mean to be Armenian in the modern period, especially in the twentieth century? In other words, is there such a thing as a single Armenian identity uniting, say, a Soviet Armenian, an American Armenian, and a Lebanese Armenian? Finally, we will take advantage of this survey to reflect on the main characteristics of modern Armenian culture, institutions, and political life.