Going Beyond Overlooked Populations in Lebanese Historiography: The Armenian Case


Correspondence: Middle Eastern Studies, Leiden University, 2300RA Leiden, the Netherlands. Email: t.nalbantian@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


Scholarship on the historiography of Lebanon consistently calls attention to ethnic and religious communities that have been conveniently “left out” of Lebanese history to perpetuate either a mostly Maronite imagination of Lebanon that traces its roots to Phoenician (and therefore non-Arab and non-Muslim origins) or to a larger pan-Arab narrative. Nevertheless, recent attempts to write a modified – and more inclusive – history of Lebanon continue to disregard Armenian inhabitants in the country. By exploring the Lebanese Armenian press coverage of the 1946 Repatriation Movement (a worldwide undertaking to gather all members of the Armenian Diaspora and relocate them in the Soviet Republic of Armenia), I aim to show additional articulations of citizenship, homeland, and belonging in Lebanon in the first years of its independence. Repatriation and its coverage present us with untapped resources that complicate both traditional and corrective narratives of the history of Lebanon. The exploration of these understandings allows for scholarship to go beyond the traditional constraints of viewing Lebanon as an amalgamation of sectarian divisions that need to be covered in some form to create a dominant national narrative. In addition, these findings avoid the temptation to create a more inclusive national history of Lebanon, as they present scholars with ambiguous and changing notions of who is Lebanese. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd