Music and the Armenian Diaspora

Music and the Armenian Diaspora

Searching for Home in Exile
Sylvia Angelique Alajaji
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/07/2015
ISBN: 978-0-253-01776-5
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Survivors of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and their descendants have used music to adjust to a life in exile and counter fears of obscurity. In this nuanced and richly detailed study, Sylvia Angelique Alajaji shows how the boundaries of Armenian music and identity have been continually redrawn: from the identification of folk music with an emergent Armenian nationalism under Ottoman rule to the early postgenocide diaspora community of Armenian musicians in New York, a more self-consciously nationalist musical tradition that emerged in Armenian communities in Lebanon, and more recent clashes over music and politics in California. Alajaji offers a critical look at the complex and multilayered forces that shape identity within communities in exile, demonstrating that music is deeply enmeshed in these processes. Multimedia components available online include video and audio recordings to accompany each case study.

Author Bio

Sylvia Angelique Alajaji is Associate Professor of Music at Franklin & Marshall College.


“[Alajaji writes in] the voice of an insider with sophisticated critical instincts, a capacity to think historically as well as ethnographically, and an ability to piece together the elements of this hugely dispersed diaspora culture making scene into a coherent picture. . . . Readings of songs and discussions with the singers and musicians produce passages of subtle description, interwoven with theoretical meditations on questions of hybridity and identity, of senses of motion and senses of place.”
 — Martin Stokes, author of The Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music

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Table of Contents

Guide to Online Media Examples
1. Ottoman Empire, 1890-1915: Komitas Vartaped and the Construction of "Armenia"
2. New York, 1932-1958
3. Beirut, 1932-1958
4. Beirut, 1958-1980
5. California