Dr. Razmik Panossian is the Director of the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, beginning on February 1, 2013.
Panossian’s critically acclaimed book, The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars, was published in 2006 by Columbia University Press and Hurst & Co. It is based on his PhD dissertation on Armenian identity and nationalism, which won the Lord Bryce Prize for Best Dissertation in Comparative and International Politics in the UK (granted by UK Political Studies Association). Panossian obtained his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2000. His MA is from York University (focussing on Latin America), and his BA is from McGill University.
Panossian has taught at the London School of Economics and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) on the subjects of nationalism, ethnic conflict, post-Soviet transition/democratization, and comparative politics.
Panossian has published extensively on Armenian-related issues. His first book in 1994 was a co-edited volume entitled Nationalism and History: The Politics of Nation Building in Post-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. He has also published many academic articles, among them “The Past as Nation: The Evolution of Armenian Identity” (Geopolitics, 7:2, 2002), “The Irony of Nagorno-Karabakh: Formal Institutions versus Informal Politics” (Regional and Federal Studies, 11: 3, 2001), “The Diaspora and the Gharabagh Movement” (in L. Chorbajian (ed.), The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh, 2001), and “Between Ambivalence and Intrusion: Politics and Identity in Armenia-Diaspora Relations” (Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 7:2, 1998 (1999)). Most recently, he wrote the entry on the Armenians in Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview (an ABC-CLIO four-volume encyclopaedia, 2008).
In 2007 he co-edited a volume of policy papers entitled Governing Diversity: Democratic Solutions in Multicultural Societies.
Panossian has given numerous lectures and conference papers in London, Paris, NY, Beijing, Ann Arbor, Boston, Los Angeles, Athens, St. Petersburg, Basque Country, Salzburg, Tripoli (Libya), Montreal, Yerevan, etc., and participated in the Turkish-Armenian workshops, as well as the Armenia-Diaspora conferences. He has also acted as a consultant to various government officials in the UK on Armenia related issues.
In 2003 Panossian moved back to Canada from the UK where he had lived for nearly a decade. Between 2004 and 2010 he assumed the post of Director of Policy, Programmes and Planning at Rights and Democracy, a Canadian federal institution in Montreal that promoted human rights and democratic development internationally. He oversaw the organisation’s work in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. His work took him to countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Congo, China, Egypt, etc.
Since 2010 Panossian has been doing international consulting work on peacebuilding, democratisation and post-conflict political analysis. He is currently with the UNDP in NY.
Praise for the book The Armenians
"Inspired and thoughtful." — Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
"[A] fascinating and important book." — Christopher J. Walker, The Weekly Standard
"“Panossian’s present work...succeeds in conveying the convoluted evolution of Armenian nationalism.”" — Leon Torossian, The European Legacy
"A first rate piece of scholarship." — William Safran, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics
"Remarkably balanced, empirically sound, and theoretically engaging." — Levon Chorbajian, Slavic Review
"The most meticulously researched and scholarly study of the development of Armenian national identity ever written. " — James Russell, American Historical Review
"A lucid, penetrating, and always fascinating inquiry into the nature of national identity in general and a massive multifaceted sociological history of the foundations and development of the Armenian nation." — Anthony Smith, London School of Economics and Political Science
"The research is first-rate, the writing is clear and persuasive, and the arguments are defended very well. A balanced, fair-minded treatment of a difficult and controversial topic." — Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan
Summary of Book
The Armenians traces the evolution of Armenia and Armenian collective identity from its beginnings to the Armenian nationalist movement over Gharabagh in 1988. Applying theories of national-identity formation and nationalism, Razmik Panossian analyzes different elements of Armenian identity construction and argues that national identity is modern, predominantly subjective, and based on a political sense of belonging. Yet he also acknowledges the crucial role of history, art, literature, religious practice, and commerce in preserving the national memory and shaping the cultural identity of the Armenian people.
Panossian explores a series of landmark events, among them Armenians' first attempts at liberation, the Armenian renaissance of the nineteenth century, the 1915 genocide of the Ottoman Armenians, and Soviet occupation. He shows how these influences led to a “multilocal” evolution of Armenian identity in various places in and outside of Armenia, notably in diasporan communities from India to Venice. Today, these numerous identities contribute to deep divisions and tensions within the Armenian nation, the most profound of which is the cultural divide between Armenians residing in their homeland and those who live in the United States, Canada, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Considering the diversity of this single nation, Panossian questions the theoretical assumption that nationalism must be homogenizing.
Based on extensive research conducted in Armenia and the diaspora, including interviews and translation of Armenian-language sources, The Armenians is an engaging history and an invaluable comparative study.