I am preparing for my short trip to Armenia next week.
A trip to the country that I have visited so many times before, but never ceases to surprise and move me. Who visits Armenia – or knows Armenians in the diaspora- is inevitably drawn into the tragedy that is known as Aghet (‘catastrophe’) or the Armenian genocide. A tragedy of which the full extent is often overshadowed by a century of political discussion – determined by the Turkish denial of this genocide. In my research I will not so much focus on these particular discussions (although they play a role). I am formost curious about how individual Armenians deal with the Aghet. I am interested in their stories: the stories they construct and pass on in various forms and shapes. Personal stories based on the experiences of family members and other witnesses, passed on through generations. And social stories that are at the base of, and are generated by memorial sites, commemoration ceremonies and so on. 2015 is the year of the Armenian genocide centennial – a memorable anniversary for which special events are in the making; varying from the current visit of American socialite Kim Kardashian (whose father was a 3rd generation Armenian in the US) to the canonization of 1,5 million genocide victims at the Armenian Church on April 23 that will be held at the Mother See of the Holy Etchmiadzin. I hope I will have a chance to get in to catch a glimpse of the rituals they have specially created for this unprecedented ceremony. It all leads up to the official Armenian Genocide Memorial Day on April 24. And like every year we will walk up the Tsitsernakaberd hill in Yerevan to put a flower at the monument on the top of the hill.
In the mean time I am catching up on my reading on disaster ritual, public commemorations and sainthood. And I am trying to collect info on events not to miss during my stay.
I do want to end with the intriguing statement Armenia is preparing with this years contribution to the Eurovision Song contest; the band Genealogy will perform the song Face the shadow aka Don’t deny….