February 5, 2019 - 10:24 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - More than 1,000 Armenians in four cities in the Diaspora took part in a first ever survey led by a team of academics, researchers and experts. This pilot phase of an ongoing larger project aims to provide a snapshot of the contemporary Diaspora.
The Armenian Diaspora Survey (ADS) is a new initiative launched and funded by the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and carried out under the auspices of the Armenian Institute in London.
“We have initiated this study to fill a critical gap in our knowledge of the Diaspora, to have evidence-based understanding of the multilayered and diverse aspects of diasporic life in our times,” said Dr. Razmik Panossian, Director of Gulbenkian Foundation’s Armenian Communities Department.
In May and June 2018 four teams conducted the survey and interviews in Boston, Cairo, Marseille and Pasadena. These cities were chosen to provide variety for the initial phase, as well as for their community history and characteristics. A set of other cities are in the process of selection for survey this year.
“We asked people about their thoughts on identity and related issues of belonging as Armenians and as citizens of different states,” explained Dr. Susan Pattie, who led the pilot project. An international advisory committee, a dedicated team and 12 field work researchers were involved in the project, which took about 18 months to develop the methodology, research tools, fieldwork preparations, survey administration and data processing.
The data and the knowledge gained from the survey will be available to scholars as a resource for further research.
Some initial findings stand out in the first stage of the research. These are only preliminary results from the pilot phase of the survey in four cities.
The overwhelming majority of the respondents consider the continuation of the Armenian diaspora as important and meaningful space—94 percent marked as “fairly” to “very” important. Along these lines, 84 percent of respondents thought it was important to help diaspora communities in the Middle East. This is significant as traditionally the Genocide and the Republic of Armenia have been the focus of funding, study or discourse in the Diaspora. The respondents showed interest in all of these, but considered the diaspora equally important. Armenia is “fairly” and “very” important to 90% of respondents and 75 percent have visited the country at least once, while 93 percent intend to visit.
Respondents said that Armenian language, history and religion were important to themselves and to Armenian identity generally—but variations appeared between the cities and further questions revealed broad variations in practice.