Between Love, Pain and Identity: Armenian Women After World War I

  • Anna Aleksanyan


This chapter addresses questions of love and identity by exploring the destinies of Armenian women who were abducted and, in many cases, forcibly married to Muslim husbands as part of the genocidal campaigns of 1915–1920. In the aftermath of World War I, international organizations, such as the Near East Relief and the League of Nations, but also Armenian individuals and national organizations, attempted to locate those Armenian women who had survived the genocide in order to rescue them from slavery and forced marriage. Many of these organizations worked tirelessly to this end, yet some girls and woman, once discovered, refused to return to their Armenian community. The reasons were diverse. Some were afraid they would not be accepted, if they returned to Armenia. Others knew that none of their family members had survived the genocide and were fearful of a future life with an unknown Armenian family. Some, however, refused to return because they had fallen in love with their Muslim husbands and did not want to abandon their children. Thus, they were forced to choose between love and their Armenian identity. Based on records of Armenian women from various Armenian sources, including the Armenian National Delegation Archives in the Nubarian Library in Paris and the National Archives of Armenia in Yerevan, this chapter explores the emotional and moral complexities behind these choices.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Aleksanyan
    • 1
  1. 1.Clark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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