Friday, May 10, 2013

New Publication: Armenian Nationalism & the Struggle Against Intolerance

Unzipped reminded us yesterday that May 8 marked the one year anniversary of the bombing of the gay-friendly DIY club, downtown Yerevan, which sparked a months-long national debate on issues relating to gender, sexuality, homophobia, and chauvinistic nationalism. Unfortunately, much of the heated discourse has died down, while the hate and the intolerance are still very much alive and kicking.

Having witnessed some of the events last May in person, I believed they needed to be contextualized within the greater issues currently facing the country - beyond the mere homophobic discourse. I tried to express some of these thoughts in a short piece that was published in the most recent issue of the OSI Scholar Forum which I received in the mail a couple of weeks ago (yes, a lot of the details might be out of date due to the long publication process, but that doesn't change the essence much). I had promised to share the article here, but as the entire publication is not available online yet, I am linking to my scanned copy. You can find it here.

The demonstration against the "Diversity March" in May 2012. Yerevan, Armenia (My photo)

All I have to add at this point is that the issue is much more complex and much larger than what it might seem at first: shortcomings in women's rights, LGBT rights, freedom of expression, free and fair elections... they are all symptoms of the larger problem of intolerance and an extremely chauvinistic nationalism that has deep roots in patriarchal and rigid culture. Changing it - whether internally or externally - won't be easy, but I really do hope that the few vocal voices that work hard to achieve greater openness and freedom don't stop their efforts and find a broader base of support to promote not just political, but perhaps the more important social and cultural democratization that the country so badly needs.

For more on the subject you can see the following:

- Unzipped: DIY watershed: One year on

- DSM BeogradNationalism and Sexuality in Modern Armenian Discourse

- Global Chaos: May 17: IDAHO in Armenia

- Global Chaos: Diversity March in Yerevan Hijacked by Ultranationalists

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