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British Travelers and the Armenian Question During the First Half of the 19th Century

  • Stephen Badalyan Riegg (a1)
Abstract

Marshaling an array of travelogues from British adventurers who visited the Russian-Ottoman-Persian borderlands during the first half of the 19th century, it is clear that the Armenian Question arose in the British consciousness earlier than previously thought. Influenced by their origins and the political circumstances of the countries through which they journeyed, British travelers highlighted in their narratives the political status of the Armenians and the trends affecting them throughout the borderlands. Ethnoreligious and socioeconomic strife between Armenians and other various groups remained a persistent theme that linked the disparate accounts and authors. Frequently overlooking core religious, cultural, political, and social factors and identities that distinguished the Turks, Persians, and Kurds, British travelers issued essentialized explanations for Armenian struggles that highlighted their status as a religious minority surrounded by ostensibly hostile majorities. Well before the outbreak of the Crimean War, British adventurers contextualized Armenian misery within the British-Russian geopolitical rivalry. Thus, early British adventurers established the cultural and political groundwork for the more famous discussions of the Armenian Question during the last decades of the 1800s.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email: sriegg@tamu.edu
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Nationalities Papers
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