Reclaiming Circumcision: Armenian Stories

  • Astrik N. VardanyanEmail author


A significant number of Armenian Americans are adopting the practice of circumcision, a procedure that historically has not been a custom among Christian Armenians. Currently, the reasons given by Armenian Americans mimic the American rationale of “health” and “hygiene,” however, historic evidence shows long-standing resistance to circumcision imposed by Islamic dominators. Circumcision was perceived by Armenians as the bodily mark that stigmatized them as forcibly Islamized. Circumcision denoted assimilation; resistance to it ensured Armenian survival. However, an unexpected shift in cultural attitudes took place among Armenians. Circumcision was rapidly embraced after genocide and the strict line between the circumcised and uncircumcised was crossed. Centuries-old denigration and rooted historical anxieties were reconciled and conveniently resolved in the “medical” justification of the practice. Armenians reclaimed the practice anew. This presentation explores the latent motives of such a cumulative ethnic response through anthropological and psychological analyses.


Armenian Americans Christians Jews Muslims Islam Anthropology Psychology Circumcision Genocide 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent AnthropologistCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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