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A.Melkonyan:Ethno-religious Processes and the Problem of the Regional Identity

Intense ethno-religious processes are characteristic to the medieval and new periods of world history which left their certain impact on the identity of population of different regions. These phenomena touched also Armenia and often influenced main content of ethno-religious processes of several Armenian historic-cultural regions.

The influence of outer ethno-religious factors was not significant in ancient Armenia. It is possible to mention partially the Hellenistic period (the end of the 4th . BC-the 3rd c. AD), when Hellenistic elements left their sign in the Armenian reality. Anyhow, the sphere of their influence was also limited, as far as Hellenism involved mostly cities and towns, while rural areas continued to preserve their traditional image. In conditions of strong statehood, originated and developed in Armenia, it would be impossible to speak about transformation of national identity during the Artashesid and Arshakid Kingdoms.

It is possible to speak about outer factors’ influence on the Armenian identity, perhaps since the 7-8th centuries. Under the pressure of the Byzantine church appeared the first followers of the Chalcedon confession among Armenians who, nevertheless, for a long time had not been ethnically transformed, preserving their national image. At the end of the 8th century after suppression of the Armenian rebellions against the Arab domination, the Khalifat started mass settlement of the Arab tribes in Armenia. Such a policy had a negative influence on the ethno-religious homogeneity of the Armenia Highland. Despite the fact that Arab emirates (appeared in Archesh, Berkri etc.) had not essential influence on the Armenian population, especially at the period of the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom, anyhow, they left their trace in proper names, titles etc.

The strong negative, destructive influence of alien factors became obvious mainly since 16th -18th centuries – at the period of the Ottoman domination. A section of the Armenian population as a result of the forcible Islamisation in several regions of Western Armenia (Sper, Baberd, Hamshen, Erznka etc.) conventionally was called “kes-kes” (“half Armenian” and “half Muslim”). A part of them was called “Hamshinly” (in the region of Hamshen and neighborhood). This name had geographic origin in reality, but in fact it was given ethno-religious essence. In the same period a group of Armenians was reconverted to Catholicism and the term “Frank” was attributed to them. At the same time the influx of Kurds in southern areas of Armenia had a negative influence on the demographic image of that region. Thus, all these negative processes that distorted Armenian ethno-religious natural image had catastrophic consequences in Western Armenia and other parts of the Ottoman Empire during World War I as a consequence of the Armenian Genocide.

Category: Abstracts | Added by: margalita (18.10.2009)
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