Subversive friendships: Turkish and Armenian encounters in transnational space


Kasbarian S & Oktem K (2014) Subversive friendships: Turkish and Armenian encounters in transnational space. Patterns of Prejudice, 48 (2), pp. 121-146.

Kasbarian and Öktem explore the extent to which ‘political friendships’ between Armenians, Turks and Kurds—members of communities antagonized by the traumatic experience of genocide—can subvert hegemonic power arrangements of denial and nationalist mobilization. Based on participant observation and in-depth interviews with a group of Armenians and Turks in London, their paper explores how the members of this group experienced a transformation of their subject positions by facing each other's stories, gradually overcoming insecurities and fears of the Other. This dynamic process precipitated a shift of position, individually and collectively, enabling the formation of a community that acted beyond the confines of the reigning logics of nationalist projects. They argue that, in the relatively level playing field of the transnational, political and other friendships can develop to the point of becoming ‘moral communities’ that challenge established status quos and unequal power relations. Friendship and interpersonal relations that transgress these boundaries undermine reigning discourses and are, ultimately, political acts. However, these ‘low’ politics interactions still face the reality of ‘high’ politics, structured by the actions of an overbearing and semi-democratic Turkish state, the political expedience of third countries and a factious Armenian diaspora.

Armenian genocide; diasporas; low politics; moral communities; nationalism; political friendships; transnationalism; Turkey

Patterns of Prejudice: Volume 48, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2014
Publication date online01/04/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis