History, Department of


Date of this Version



International Journal of Middle East Studies (2022), 54, 530–534



This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence


For decades Armenian studies has been marginalized in Middle Eastern, Turkish, Iranian, and Ottoman studies for political and ideological reasons.1 Ignorance and reluctance to understand the field also have contributed to this marginalization. Some scholars viewed the field as an archaic one, remote from the above-mentioned fields. Whereas some only thought of Armenian studies as part of Caucasian studies, others did not want to be associated with Armenian studies due to its research focus on the Armenian Genocide, concerned that any such association might endanger their access to the Ottoman archives or be tainted as advocating an “Armenian point of view.” However, in the past two decades the situation has started to change, as a new generation of young scholars, few in number and mostly based in the West (with a few in Turkey), have embarked on diverse research projects to understand the history and the culture of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. Although these have only scratched the surface, they should be welcomed as an honest approach to understanding the history and contribution of the Armenians to the region that goes beyond the approach of “good Armenian, bad Armenian” that was endemic to Ottoman and Turkish studies during the Cold War period.2 Although the new trend tends to concentrate on the 19th and early 20th centuries, it should be considered a welcome step.

Armenians of the Middle East—representing diverse, complex, and stratified groups—have left a plethora of primary sources pertaining not only to the history of their own communities, but also to the history of the region. It is time that Western and Eastern Armenian be considered key languages in Ottoman, Iranian, and Middle Eastern studies.3 In addition, it also is the appropriate time to consider these “area studies” as overlapping and intersecting fields and not as clear fields demarcated by geographical or ethno-religious national boundaries. Similar to the recognition that identities are hybrid and fluid, I also would like to promote here the idea that these “area studies” are hybrid and cannot and should not be studied in isolation. Armenians spread across different area studies and multiple disciplines can be hugely illuminating in comparative and broader study and perspectives.

Despite these positive, albeit limited, developments, an important event took place in September to November of 2020 that shook the faith of scholars of Armenian background about this seemingly encouraging progress. This event was the Second Nagorno-Karabagh War, which lasted for forty-four days. In this short essay, I will provide a brief overview of the history of the conflict and attempt to understand the ambivalence of scholars in the field and their reluctance to take a stance on condemning the assault against the selfproclaimed Republic of Karabagh by Azerbaijani forces and their allies.

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