Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 327 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James Collins

Committee Members

Jennifer Burrell, Walter Little, Khachig Tölölyan


Diaspora, Ethnicity, Gender, Nationalism, Sexuality, Armenian diaspora, National characteristics, Armenian, Armenian Americans, Sexual minorities, Gender identity

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Since heteronormativity is an inextricable part of the ethnonationalist ideologies and discourses of Armenianness, conformity and transgression are communally policed both in the Republic of Armenia, as well as in the Armenian diaspora, albeit in different ways. In the diaspora it is through public silence regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and queer self-identified Armenians that hetero-belonging is managed. In the Republic of Armenia, on the other hand, it is managed through hate speech promoted by public figures and through mass media. In both cases the anxiety that the issue of non-heteronormativity points to in the public outcry is that of body politic of national citizenship, ethnic morality, and by extension, belonging, all of which hinge on reproductive hetero-belonging. And even in the most progressive Armenian organizations, queer issues are never raised as Armenian issues. This dissertation decenters the single heteronormative, middle class, Orthodox Christian, Caucasian narrative of diasporic Armenianness, having already crossed various ethnonational borders through time and space with embodied linguistic and cultural difference. It focuses on the ways lesbian, gay, and queer self-identified Armenians challenge the erasure of non-heteronormativity from ethnocultural and ethnonational discourses of Armenianness in the US and the Republic of Armenia. In particular, I draw on interactional, in-depth interview data from long-term ethnographic research in upstate New York, metropolitan New York, and Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. By examining the discursive practices employed in multilingual interactions and interviews to signal intersecting subjectivities and identifications I seek to understand how queer Armenians disrupt the heteropatriarchal discourses of Armenianness by unsettling the public and collective production of Armenianness through their own re-presentation and re-representation thereof.