Diaspora’s Academic and Analytical Community in The Sphere of Humani



Tigran Ghanalanyan
Expert, Center for Armenian Studies, `Noravank’ Foundation

There were many Armenian figures in the different communities of
Diaspora who were involved in the academic and cultural areas of those
countries. This is characteristic for the multi-century history of our
scattered communities. Today Armenians from Diaspora are also among
the intelligentsia of the countries they reside. There is also
academic and analytical community in the sphere of humanities in
different countries of the world and in this article we shall try to
present it.

It is difficult to characterize this community by means of generalized
formulations and evaluations, because anyway there are some
peculiarities. The first issue to bother us is the involvement of that
person in the Armenian reality. In order to consider this issue a
number personal, historical, geographic, political and cultural
factors peculiar to that community are decisive. For example, it is
obvious that in the aspect of perception of the problems of the
Armeniancy and efforts exerted to their solutions, the Armenian from
Lebanon who works at the local Armenian school or media, the PhD who
has moved to Russia recently and the descendant from Lebanese Armenian
family who moved to Canada and now is professor at the humanities
faculty of some university can have quite different approaches. It is
difficult to offer one distinct formula which can be used in all the
situations, just like with any other issue referring to the Diaspora.
The perception and view of the motherland by any person, the share of
influence of Armenia and local community can be decisive in the aspect
of elaboration of a way of cooperation with him.

As it is known there is considerable Armenian presence in dozens of
countries and two of them, the U.S. and Russia stand out for the big
number of both Armenians and research and analytical community. It is
necessary to refer to the analytical and academic communities of these
countries separately, and here we shall cover the potential of other
communities of the Diaspora. In the future several regions, which are
presented in the tablebelow, can be singles out on the grounds of a
database of the academics and researches gathered as a result of this

As a result we have 27 countries which fall into 4 geographic groups.
The biggest of these groups is Europe and it is logical because in
case of such division and in the aspect of the Armenian population in
general, it overruns all other regions. It should be mentioned that
this division is carried out based on the available study and does not
claim to include the whole academic and analytical community, which
could have brought to some changes in the structure of the groups. But
at the same time it is obvious that such a division reflects current
realties and outlines the real picture to some extent.

Developing an idea that it is impossible to offer final common
formulas for all the communities, one should mention that even within
these groups, communities with peculiarities can be found and it is
difficult to create common concepts for the groups. Here such small
and newly formed communities as in the UAE or Sweden cannot have the
same mechanisms as compared, correspondingly, to Lebanon and France.
Moreover, there are some peculiarities in the countries, e.g. in the
aspect of works carried out in the traditional community and among
those who has recently migrated from Armenia.

According to our conventional division, countries which are included
in the Middle East group fall into two groups: those with traditional
communities and those with newly formed Armenian communities. The
first group includes Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Cyprus and Syria, and the
second group ` UAE and Kuwait. Besides the historical traditions of
the community, in the aspect of number, communities in Turkey, Iran,
Lebanon and Syria outnumber others. Though in this region which has
many commonalities the accumulated experience can also be singled out.
E.g. in UAE and Kuwait the Lebanese experience can be useful,
especially if we take into consideration the fact that most of the
population here moved and settled in this economically developing
countries from Lebanon and other countries of the region with the
traditional Armenian communities. Among these aforementioned countries
Iran, Lebanon and Syria, which have developed system of community
organizations, can be singled out. Besides Armenian schools, which are
peculiar to the Armenian communities in the region, the only higher
educational institution of Diaspora ` Haigazian University is situated
in Lebanon1.

It should be underlined that though the Haigazian University has the
Chair of Armenology, nevertheless, many lecturers of the Armenian
origin working here are specialists in humanities and different social
sciences. Hence, the Haigazian University is an example of
consolidation of not only Armenological but also academic and
analytical community in Diaspora in general. At the same time it
should be mentioned that considerable part of both lecturers and
students are not Armenians and due to this fact it is easy to
integrate both university and lecturers in the local educational

The development of the relations between Haigazian University and
different educational institutions of the Armenian Diaspora is also
crucial. It can promote establishment of cooperation not only between
educational institutions but also strengthening of ties between
communities. Of course it would be difficult to overestimate setting
active cooperation between the university and educational and academic
institutions in Armenia. By the way, recently some practical steps
have been taken; in particular conferences were arranged both in
Beirut and in Yerevan. The experience accumulated by Haigazian
University can be useful in the aspect of both organizing educational
activity in different communities of Diaspora, and development of the
educational system in Armenia. Despite the gradual weakening and
reduction of the Armenian community in Lebanon, Haigazian University
has potential for development in both educational and research

While considering prospects of cooperation with Armenia, it should be
mentioned that eager cooperation with the local community
organizations is characteristic for the Armenian experts from the
Middle East. Hence, in the process of cooperation with academic and
analytical community from there, it is possible to use the local
experienced Armenian organizations which can become a sort of link
between those personalities and their motherland.

The involvement of the Armenians in the intellectual sphere in Europe
has centuries-long history too. Of course, here there are also
institutions which accumulated huge experience, e.g. Mkhitarian
Congregation, and separate experts working in different institutions.
For example Italy has rich traditions in the Armenology, and in Sweden
there are some persons whose work is conditioned by the tasks set by
the local institutions.

Among the European countries France with its rather big expert
community stands out. Here both experience accumulated by the local
Armenians and organizations established by them and multitude of the
local Armenian community are crucial. In Great Britain, where there
are much fewer Armenians, they also work in many academic and
educational institutions. Here the policy of state in the sphere of
science and education, the importance of easy integration of the
foreigners in that sphere becomes obvious. Due to this reason some of
the Armenian communities in Europe, which have rich history, do not
have the academic and analytical community some of lately formed or
grown communities have.

There are some countries in Europe the development of the academic and
analytical community of which is conditioned by some peculiar
impulses. Thus, for example, in Portugal it is mostly conditioned by
the activity of Caloust Gulbenkian Foundation.

There are Armenian organizations in Europe, activity of which is
directed to the consolidation of the Armenian academic and analytical
community. Thus, the French Armenian interdisciplinary association,
established in 1981, unites specialists from different spheres. The
goal of the association is to participate in the revival of Armenia
and set cooperation in the spheres of science and technologies,
industry, trade, etc. It also arranges exchange of the specialists
from France and Armenia. Of course, this association has broader scope
of activity than the sphere of our research but this experience can be
useful for the elaboration of format of cooperation in specific
fields. Another organization ` Union of Armenian Academics ` 1860,
established in Bochum in 2001, holds educational and cultural events,
tends to unite the Armenians from Armenia who are not involved in the
community life, promote cooperation between the educational
institutions in Germany and Armenia. Ararat International Academy of
Sciences, established in 1986 in Paris, which includes academics from
Armenia, Europe, Middle East and America, is also worth mentioning.
The goal of the academy is to strengthen ties between Armenia and
Diaspora, to help the academic and cultural organization from Armenia
and to support Hay Dat. The academy has 26 departments, in accordance
with the specialties3. The Chobanian Institute in Paris is the
organization which is of interest to us. It is independent research
center for geopolitical and strategic studies. It deals with the study
of the issues connected with the South Caucasus and Middle East.

The academic and analytical community formed in post-Soviet republics
is remarkable. Of course, here the Armenians from Russia play
important role. Nevertheless, there are some regularities, which are
characteristic to all the countries belonging to this group, including
Armenia. Of course, being part of one common state is very important.
Common academic and educational system existed in these countries, so
there are both common problems and common ways of their solution.
Though these countries have chosen specific ways of development,
nevertheless, there are some preconditions in the aspect of
cooperation of academic and educational systems and Armenians working
in that sphere.

In the aforementioned context, it can be supposed that the Armenian
experts working in the countries of this group can be useful to
Armenia in the context of exchange of the experience in the solution
of problems, which are peculiar to all the post-Soviet countries.

The forth conventional group includes Armenian experts and academics
working in the countries of the American continent. Just like Russia
was the leader of the previous group, the same position in this group
is occupied by the U.S. Nevertheless, there are many experts and
academics who can be useful to Armenia in other countries too. In case
with this group distant geographic location of the counties is an
obstacle for immediate relationship. But in such cases and in the
aspect of cooperation with the Armenian academic and expert community
in Diaspora in general, modern information technologies can play a
great supplementary role. Cooperation with the experts from these
countries can bring to reconsideration of some of the problems and
elaboration of effective mechanisms. The main organization of the
Armenian communities in Canada and Latin America were formed in the
last century and the main emphasis should be laid upon personal
cooperation, trying at the same time to involve community

There are also separate organizations which consolidate local
intellectual potential. `Union of Armenia Professionals’, uniting
Armenians with higher education in Argentina is one of such
organizations. The goal of the association is to discuss political and
academic issues which bother Armenians at current stage, represent
their national culture4.

Thus, there is considerable academic and analytical community in the
sphere of humanities in Diaspora. It has many peculiarities of
personal and communal character. Some separate cases of cooperation
with Armenia can be observed, but there is no clearly elaborated
strategy and policy. This mostly refers to the analysts because the
academic circles already have formed mechanisms of cooperation but
their efficiency is still disputable. So, taking into consideration
rather complex structure of academic and analytical community of the
Armenian Diaspora, its peculiarities, such cooperation should be put
on a right track which should mostly be initiated by Armenia. And this
will further creation of Armenia-centric format.

1 See, Õ?Õ¡Õ¶Õ¡Õ¬Õ¡Õ¶ÕµÕ¡Õ¶ Õ?., Ô²Õ¥ÕµÖÕ¸Ö?Õ©Õ« ÕÕ¡ÕµÕ¯Õ¡Õ¦ÕµÕ¡Õ¶ Õ°Õ¡Õ´Õ¡Õ¬Õ½Õ¡ÖÕ¡Õ¶Õ¨, «Ô³Õ¬Õ¸Õ¢Õ¸Ö?Õ½», Õ©Õ«Õ¾
2, 2013,Õ§Õ» 42-51:

2 Ibid, p. 50-51:

3 See, «ÕÕ¡Õµ Õ?Ö?ÕµÕ¸Ö?Õ¼Ö?» Õ°Õ¡Õ¶ÖÕ¡Õ£Õ«Õ¿Õ¡ÖÕ¡Õ¶, ÔµÖÖ?Õ¡Õ¶, 2003, p. 645, 145:

4 Ibid, p. 106:

`Globus’ analytical journal, #11, 2013

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