Advertisement

Reclaiming Circumcision: Armenian Stories

  • Astrik N. Vardanyan
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Armenian Americans Christians Jews Muslims Islam Anthropology Psychology Circumcision Genocide 

References

  1. Balakian P (2003) The burning Tigris: the Armenian genocide and America’s response. Perennial, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown T, Parks G, Phillips C (2005) African American fraternities and sororities: the legacy and the vision. University Press of Kentucky, KentuckyGoogle Scholar
  3. Dadrian V (2003) Children as victims of genocide: the Armenian case. Journal of Genocide Research, vol 5(3), pp 421–427. http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/cragsite/Children.htm last retrieved 2 Nov 2003
  4. Daranaghtsi G (1965) Zhamanakagriutiun [Chronology]. Jerusalem Press, JerusalemGoogle Scholar
  5. Davrizetsi A (1988) History. Yerevan Press, YerevanGoogle Scholar
  6. DeMeo J (1997) The geography of genital mutilations. (Presented at the fourth international symposium on sexual mutilations, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, 9–11 Aug 1996). In: Denniston GC, Milos MF (eds) Sexual mutilations, a human tragedy. Plenum Press, New York link to www.nocirc.org
  7. Eilberg-Schwartz H (1992) Why not the Earlobe? Moment, pp 28–33, FebruaryGoogle Scholar
  8. Erdem HY (1996) Slavery in the Ottoman empire and its demise. St. Martin’s Press (Davrizetsi 1988:131). [My translation]Google Scholar
  9. Goldman R (1997) Questioning circumcision: a Jewish perspective. Vanguard, Boston, pp 11–12Google Scholar
  10. Jamgojian H (1991) From the documentary: the Armenian genocide, Atlantis productionGoogle Scholar
  11. Künzler J (1921) Im Lande des Blutes und der Tränen. Erlebnisse in Mesopotamien Während des Weltkrieges (In the Land of Blood and Tears. Experiences in Mesopotamia during the World War). Berlin-Potsdam, pp 77, 87Google Scholar
  12. Magliocco S (2001–2002) Coordinates of power and performance festivals as sites of (Re)Presentation and reclamation in Sardinia, Ethnologies, vol 23(1), pp 167–189; 168Google Scholar
  13. Papazian A (1971) Turkish documents about Armenia and Armenians from 16–19th Century. Yerevan Press, YerevanGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent AnthropologistCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations