2010 Northeastern University Graduate World History Conference
March 27-28, 2010
Sunday March 28
1:30–3:30 Session VII
Roundtable: Gendered Connections in World History
Nelli Sargsyan-Pittman, Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany
Transnationally Rooted and Locally Routing: Queering within the Armenian Transnation
Unlike the concept of male gayness, female non-heterosexuality has been rejected a discursive space within the nationalist heteronormativity of the current Armenian society. In this paper I explore the identities that a group of Armenian lesbian, bisexual, and straight women artists invoke and produce in different spaces, through different languages historicizing queer presence and promoting their advocacy work for LGBT women on their online blog. More specifically, I analyze how a group of LGBT and straight Armenian women’s collective produces particular gender identities through a project called Queering Yerevan, a research-based initiative taking topography as a work of artistic symbolization and translation. I argue that although locally rooted, the Armenian queer artists (some of whom are repatriated Diasporan Armenians), nevertheless, imagine themselves as part of a global LGBT community — through individual and organizationally based transnational networks — that sustains their local struggles and advocacy in the Armenian society through various activist and art/literary projects. I suggest that along with utilizing their knowledge of theories on gender identity construction, the queer artists use techno- and mediascapes — sharing information and art on similar struggles and various solutions — in an attempt to remain rooted in their imagined global community and to route to the local as well as diasporic Armenian communities. This allows them to more meaningfully represent their queer identities among many other identities they articulate. At the same time, informed by their transnational experience, they complicate and queer the local constraints of heteronormativity.