The Armenian Diaspora Project - PhMuseum

The Armenian Diaspora Project

Scout Tufankjian

2009 - 2013

The Armenian Diaspora Project is a portrait of survival, of a vibrant community 100 years after the genocide that scattered its people across the globe.

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  • "When do you feel Armenian? Always. It's like asking when do you feel human." -Aline Ohanesian- (born in Kuwait, now living in California)

    June 15, 2013: Kovsakan/Zangilan, Nagorno-Karabakh- Syrian and local Armenians relax after finishing their school exams at the local swimming hole and picnic spot in Kovsakan, a remote village of 700 Armenians that was once the large Azeri town of Zangilan. Nagorno-Karabakh, which in the Soviet Union was under the control of Azerbaijan, has been a de facto independent state since the 1988-94 Karabakh War in which its secessionist ethnic-Armenian population, backed by the Republic of Armenia, fought a war against the newly independent Azerbaijan, resulting in major population shifts as Azeri residents of Karabakh fled to Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians fled Azerbaijan for the Republic of Armenia.

  • " I still feel like an outsider kind of here. And I'm an outsider in Armenia. So to me I don't know if I'll truly be comfortable somewhere." -Anon (Refugee from Baku pogroms, now living in the USA)

    May 22, 2013: New Kharbert, Armenia- A young man sits, framed by a missing pane in an otherwise painted doorway. The Specialized Children's Home in Kharbert is home to hundreds of children with severe mental and physical disabilities - some of whom are orphaned and others of which were abandoned by their families due to the costs and difficulty of raising them.

  • "I don't think Armenians have ever fully adjusted to living in the Diaspora. In many ways ( financial stability, home, careers) they have, but there's always a longing for something more, something on the other side of the sea, something that always pulls them to not fully be engulfed in the cities and countries they are living in now. They are always searching for something that is lost." -Liana Aghajanian (born in Iran, now living in Los Angeles)

    Kovsakan/Zangilan, Nagorno-Karabakh- A young girl looks out the window of her school in the town of Kovsakan in the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. She and her family moved to Kovsakan in the wake of a particularly harsh winter that destroyed crops in their former village in Armenia. The government had offered incentives to move to this part of Karabakh in an attempt to bulk up the Armenian population of a region that had formerly been an Azeri city of 35,000 known as Zangilan. The village now has a population of 700 ethnic Armenians including 120 school aged children, who live amongst the abandoned homes, cinemas and hotels of their former neighbors.

  • "We all have to adjust to our new homes, otherwise we won't be able to survive." -Anna Karapetyan (Russian citizen, now living in New York City)

    June 14, 2013: Lachin/Berdzor, Nagorno-Karabakh- Garo, 10 year-old Syrian refugee, aims his slingshot near the Armenian Church that sits in the backyard of the house he shares with other refugee families in the unrecognized Caucasian republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Several hundred Syrian-Armenian refugees, mostly from Qamishlii, have moved to the contested republic, where they have been given housing and loans to help them to restart their lives, although most are still struggling. When asked how they spent their days, one young resident, who is waiting to attend university in Yerevan, said, "We sit here and we watch the hills, and eventually the day passes."

  • "The best thing that ever happened to me was being Armenian. The worst thing that ever happened to me was being Armenian." -Karen McBride King (Worcester, Massachusetts)

    October 1, 2013. Karakert, Armenia - Seven year-old Hripsme Hambersoumyan does her family's dishes in her home in an infamously impoverished neighborhood of Karakert known as "The Jungle."

  • "I love Armenian people — all of them. I love them because they are a part of the enormous human race, which of course I find simultaneously beautiful and vulnerable." -William Saroyan in "First Visit to Armenia"

    June 04, 2013: Myasnikyan, Armenia- Anoush Gasparyan watches her five year old sleeping daughter Anahid in their home in the village of Myasnikyan. The family, which is struggling after a series of accidents and health issues including snake bite and lightning strikes, receives help from the diaspora-based Children of Armenia Fund (COAF).

  • "There is a small area of land in Asia Minor that is called Armenia, but it is not so. It is not Armenia. It is a place. There are plains and mountains and rivers and lakes and cities in this place, and it is all fine, it is all no less fine than all the other places in the world, but it is not Armenia. There are only Armenians, and these inhabit the earth, not Armenia, since there is no Armenia, gentlemen, there is no America and there is no England, and no France, and no Italy, there is only the earth, gentlemen." -William Saroyan in The Armenian and the Armenian

    Kovsakan, Nagorno-Karabakh- A Syrian Armenian refugee peers into the waters of a swimming hole in the midst of a plane forest outside of the small town of Kovsakan.

  • "If I were to get married, I couldn't imagine waking up and not saying "pari loys" to the love of my life." -Fr. Hrant (Montreal, Canada)

    May 29, 2013: Yerevan, Armenia - Birthright Armenia volunteer Nina Talverdian, of California, spends the evening hanging out with her host family in their Yerevan apartment. Birthright Armenia was founded in 2003 in order to build relationships between diasporan Armenians and Armenia. Participants, who range in age from 20-32 must be at least 1/4 Armenian and must agree to stay for at least two months and volunteer in some way to aid Armenian development.

  • "I want to see old Armenia, as I imagine it in my head." -Anna Karapetyan (Russian citizen, now living in New York City)

    March 30, 2012. Saimbeyli, Turkey - Two young boys walk along the River Göksun, formerly called the Kirkot River, in Saimbeyli, Turkey. The village, which has a population of just 3,952, most of whom are Nationalist Turks, was known as Hadjin before the Genocide and was home to 26,480 Armenians.

  • "The fact that my grandparents, who are in their 90's now, were born on the other side of the world and last year voted for America's first black president is a monumental moment in time.” -Ani Yapundzhyan (born in the Republic of Armenia, now living in the United States)

    September 25, 2013. Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh - Members of the government of Nagorno-Karabakh, including President Bako Sahakyan (center in navy blue suit and red tie) attend the re-opening of We Are Our Mountains, a 1967 Soviet-era statue known locally as Tatig & Papik (Grandmother and Grandfather). The statue, which is by Armenian sculptor Sargis Baghdasaryan, is seen as a symbol of Karabakh's "Armenianian-ness."

  • "I feel more connection to my clan than a homeland." -Anon (San Francisco, California)

    April 24, 2012 - HOLLYWOOD, CA: A group of young ethnic Armenians show off their cars in the Hollywood neighborhood known as Little Armenia.

  • "On one hand, I feel that I don't belong to Armenia because I don't have an Armenian nationality. On the other hand, I don't feel that I belong to Lebanon even though I've born because Lebanese people notice "ian" in my family name and generalize that I'm Armenian; even though I'm Lebanese of Armenian origin. There is a big confusion here since I don't know If I introduce myself as Armenian or Lebanese or both." -Hasmig "Jasmine" Boyadjian (Beirut, Lebanon)

    June 28 2013: Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon- Armenian children play in front of their homes in Sanjak Camp in Bourj Hammoud. The camp, which was built to house refugees from the Armenian Genocide and is one of the last remaining inhabited Armenian refugee camps in the world, is being demolished to make way for new development. Three-quarters of it have already been torn down, and the remaining residents, some of whom are descendants of the original genocide survivors, are fighting to save their homes.

  • "It is sometimes amazing to think that when I´m in an Armenian event, all the people there, including me, have come to this country far away and are all together celebrating something in the same way that our ancestors did a hundred years ago." -Gary Gananian (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

    May 28, 2013: Yerevan, Armenia - Young traditional Armenian dancers look scornfully over at other dancers as they wait to perform during a show at Yerevan's Opera House to celebrate the First Republic Day in Armenia.

  • "I was born and spent my first 5 years of life in Armenia. My parents had to leave, as our home was destroyed by the earthquake in 1988. By the time we had built another house with hopes to start a new life, it was clear enough to my parents at that time that there are better places to spent our lifetime than in Armenia." - Anna Karapetyan (Russian citizen now living in New York)

    June 04, 2013: Myasnikyan, Armenia- Nine year-old Arman Mkrtchyan (L) sits with his father Suren Zadoyan and older brother Avidees in their home in the village of Myasnikyan. Both boys attend diasporan-funded schools.

  • “I am Armenian, every piece of me I could describe is Armenian.”-Sevana Tchakerian (Paris, France)

    September 20, 2009 - SAO PAULO, BRAZIL: An Armenian girl waits to receive communiun during mass at the Catedral Apostolica Armenia Sao Jorge in Sao Paulo. The Armenian community of Brazil is mostly centered around Sao Paulo, where refugees fleeing the Armenian genocide arrived in 1926. The community of 20,000 is largely fragmented, with less than 1,000 still speaking Armenian and getting involved in community activities.


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