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Dislocations of Identity in Late Twentieth Century Armenian Diaspora Literature

  • Author(s): Keshishyan, Lilit
  • Advisor(s): Cowe, Peter S;
  • Behdad, Ali
  • et al.

The relationship between geographic space and identity has long been established. Increasingly, scholars working in the area of diaspora studies have been debating the extent to which the idea of a physical homeland is significant when defining and categorizing expatriate communities as diasporic. This dissertation enters the conversation concerning the geographic homeland, conceptual spaces, and identity within the context of diaspora studies through a study of the literary works of three Armenian writers from the diaspora. Focusing on the works of Vahé Oshagan, Hakob Karapents and Vahe Berberian, this dissertation examines the representation and reconceptualization of identity in Armenian literature from the diaspora written in the latter part of the 20th century. Examining the literary characters' relationships to the multitude of spaces they call home, my readings assert that these works offer a complex view of the diasporic subject because they acknowledge the duality of living outside one's "home" country and go beyond this binary understanding by rejecting and questioning the simplified and romanticized narratives of origin, place and subject-hood. I argue that rather than finding solace within a particular space, searching and wandering within those spaces, whether literally or metaphorically, become the only stable fixtures in the lives of the characters, and therefore, define their identity. Although the significance of geographic and imagined spaces as clear markers of diasoric identity is sometimes contested in diaspora studies, I argue that, these spaces, nonetheless, serve as integral components within the process of negotiating identity and belonging.

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