888) Armenian Identity In The United States Among Second Generation Cohorts By Anny Bakalian

Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center,
The Graduate Center
City University of New York

October 4-7, 2001


The movement of Armenians to the United States of America can be divided roughly into two waves of immigration. The earliest Armenians to settle in North America in significant numbers arrived at the turn of the twentieth century, roughly between the 1880s and 1924. The next massive influx can be dated to the repeal of restrictive laws – the “quota laws” – in 1965, which had been in effect since 1924. Push-pull factors influenced both waves of immigration.

In the late nineteenth century, the U.S.A. was rapidly becoming a major industrial society. Its territory was vast and its resources seemed endless, however, it lacked manpower to run its numerous factories, build the railroads and other infrastructure and serve its developing cities. . .

Armenians, on the other hand, were fleeing the social, economic and political upheaval in the decaying Ottoman Empire. Later for the second wave, once again the cultural and political climate in the United States was welcoming of diversity and the economy was on the verge of the post industrial, global technological revolution. By this time, the Armenians were escaping the political and economic crisis in the Middle East, notably the civil war in Lebanon and the Islamic revolution in Iran. More recently, the pogroms in Azerbaijan, the Karabagh war and blockade and the economic crisis in the Republic of Armenia created an exodus of Armenians from the former Soviet republics.

Future researchers might take issue with my conceptualization of Armenian immigration to the United States. They might divide the post-1965 immigrants into two categories; the first being the influx of immigrants from the Arab and Islamic world, and the second, the arrival of large numbers of Armenians from the ex-Soviet Republic of Armenia in the 1990s. The demographic characteristics and cultural baggage of the Hayastant zis (Armenians from Armenia) appear to be different than those of their immediate predecessors. However, in the absence of systematic research on the Hayastantzis in Los Angeles, where most have congregated, and for that matter, the large mass of Armenians who now make southern California their home, I stand by my claim for the time being.

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