Music and the Armenian Diaspora:

Searching for Home in Exile

By Sylvia Alajaji
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Indiana University Press, 2015

ISBN 978-0-253-01761-1

216 Pages


Survivors of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and their descendants have used music to
adjust to their lives in exile and counter fears of obscurity and endangerment. 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 post-genocide diaspora community of Armenian musicians in New York; the 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, and demonstrates that music is deeply enmeshed in these processes. Multimedia components available online include video and audio recordings to accompany each of the case studies.


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


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