Forbidden Homeland: A Diaspora Armenian’s quest for understanding

Book Review
Forbidden Homeland: Story of a Diasporan
By Katia Tavitian Karageuzian
384 pages

Forbidden Homeland, Story of a Diasporan is the passion project of Katia Tavitian Karageuzian. It is a delicately woven tapestry of a self-discovery journey transcending three generations of a family experiencing the Armenian Genocide, displacement and war.

Karageuzian was born in Lebanon and emigrated to the United States at the age of 16. Her maternal side is from Adana, and her paternal side is from Malatya. She has a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Southern California. A practicing pharmacist, she is also a member of Homenetmen and the ANCA community.

Karageuzian has always loved politics and history. In college, she reconnected with her roots when she discovered new relatives, descendants of her paternal grandmother’s siblings who had stayed in Turkey after the Genocide. It was a life-changing event that made the Armenian Genocide personal to her. Karageuzian realized that the Genocide never stopped. “In the aftermath, less violent ways of ethnic cleansing were employed,” Karageuzian said. The denial phase is ongoing, as the culprits are actively covering up and falsifying the crime. 

Katia Tavitian Karageuzian at Barnes and Noble

In her quest to get answers, Karageuzian employed a scientific approach, delving deep to find the root cause of the crime, how it was executed and why it continues with impunity. She recognized gaps in her knowledge of the Genocide. “The Diaspora Armenians went through a long recovery phase. It took a few generations to grasp how organized and far-reaching the perpetrated crime against their families was. The communities they formed in foreign lands had no national resources to rely on,” Karageuzian said. “Their community leaders and intellectuals were the first victims of the Armenian Genocide, and without the main pillar of awareness of identity, history was made to be forgotten.”

Forbidden Homeland is Karageuzian’s personal experience as a Diaspora Armenian and her quest to form a better understanding of the Armenian cause. The book is highly engaging and weaves Armenian history with current affairs and personal accounts. When she met her newfound relatives, they filled in the gaps and completed the family’s story. She learned from them about the many tribulations those who stayed behind in Turkey were subjected to. In her turn, Karageuzian added the trials and tribulations experienced in Lebanon by family members who had fled there as refugees, and later by her own family during the Lebanese Civil War. The puzzle pieces finally fit together. 

“Our people have been intentionally fractured, demographically and ethnically reengineered. If you don’t know your history, you don’t know how things evolved, you will not know your rights. Turkey and Russia committed ethnocide against us. Turkey wanted to Turkify us, and Russia wanted to Sovietize us. Geopolitics subjected us to national amnesia, because that suited the agendas of higher powers. There is always an economic and political reason behind every world event,” stated Karageuzian. “Knowledge of one’s own history is essential to a people’s survival.”

The book does a great job of detailing history as well as connecting it to present day events.

“History and truth are on our side. We have the backing of facts and documents,” Karageuzian said. She conducted her own research, drawing on the work of many Armenian scholars and writers such as Richard Hovannisian and Vahakn Dadrian, as well as more recent publications such as The Inconvenient Genocide by barrister Geoffrey Robertson and The Thirty Year Genocide by Jewish university professors Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi. Books by Turkish historian Taner Akcam opened Karageuzian’s eyes and gave her an understanding of the Turkish perspective and the political and economic reasons behind the Genocide.

Book signing For Forbidden Homeland, Story of a Diasporan

It took Karageuzian 12 years to complete her book. The book is thoroughly done, and the documentation is highly detailed, yet easily comprehensible. “The Armenian Genocide didn’t begin in 1915, but rather with the Hamidian Massacres in 1894. Unfortunately it continues today in Artsakh and Armenia itself,” she said.

Karageuzian puts her knowledge to paper and makes her family’s story and Armenian history personal, her main reason for writing the book. It discusses the 44-day war in Artsakh, U.S. President Joe Biden’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, an updated definition of Genocide and the pan-Turkic ambition that drives it. It includes 20 pages of research documentation.

“I wanted it to be a book that anyone could pick up, especially non-Armenians, and be able to relate to the human aspects of the story. We need to rebuild our story. The Diaspora came about because of the crime. Maybe one day, we will have leadership unafraid to value Armenian life everywhere. It was upsetting when the pogroms happened in Azerbaijan in the late 1980s and no one took the culprits to the international courts. We have failed to value Armenian rights. We have allowed the other party to concoct untruths. I published, because all of us in our own ways need to up the game in pushing back on the falsehoods coming from the other side,” she said.

Karageuzian, who is on Instagram, has done book readings at Barnes and Noble, Fresno State University and Armenian private schools. Her book is available on Amazon, Abril Books and Sardarabad. Forbidden Homeland has won a Literary Titan Gold Book award and has placed third in World Politics at the Spring 2023 BookFest awards. You will feel so empowered and enlightened after reading Forbidden Homeland, Story of a Diasporan.

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. Talar’s books "Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage?", "Tigran’s Song and "Our Tigran" are available on Amazon. She has been an educator for 26 years and resides in Los Angeles, CA. She can be reached at .