Transnational Media and the Politics of Fundraising in the Armenian Diaspora

Gellner Seminar

Rik Adriaans (Central European University, Budapest) will give a lecture within the Gellner seminar organized by the Czech Association for Social Anthropology (CASA– Česká Asociace pro Sociální Antropologii), the Czech Society of Sociology, in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences and CEFRES.

When: 15th November, at 5 pm
Where: CEFRES Library (Na Florenci 3, Prague 1)
Language: English


Transnational Media and the Politics of Fundraising in the Armenian Diaspora
Fundraising spectacles such as gala dinners and concerts have long been central to the culture and institutions of the Armenian diaspora. Since the early 1990s, the conversion of money into ethnicity takes on increasingly mediatized and transnational forms. My talk examines the Armenia Fund Telethon, an annual pan-Armenian spectacle broadcast from Los Angeles that collects donations for infrastructure in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on the de jure territory of Azerbaijan. Through the establishment of a transnational sphere of media rituals that links up Armenians across continents, the occupation of formerly Azerbaijani-occupied lands is turned into a diasporic celebration of humanitarian ethics and cultural heritage. At the same time, diaspora activists in Los Angeles are increasingly calling for a boycott of the annual telethon by organizing competing events that criticize it for serving the interests of post-Soviet oligarchs. The appeal of these activist initiatives is analyzed in relation to unpredictable eruptions of violence in the homeland.

Rik Adriaans

Rik Adriaans recently obtained his PhD in Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University in Budapest. His doctoral thesis examines the interfaces between image production, technological mediation and diasporic recognition struggles in the transnational circuits that connect post-Soviet Armenia to the Armenian diaspora in Los Angeles. He also maintains an ongoing research interest in the politics of Armenian popular music. His articles have appeared in the journals Social Analysis, Nationalities Papers, Caucasus Survey and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.