Re-imagining Yerevan in the post-Soviet era: Urban symbolism and narratives of the nation in the landscape of Armenia's capital

Diana K Ter-Ghazaryan, Florida International University

Abstract

The urban landscape of Yerevan has experienced tremendous changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Armenia’s independence in 1991. Domestic and foreign investments have poured into Yerevan’s building sector, converting many downtown neighborhoods into sleek modern districts that now cater to foreign investors, tourists, and the newly rich Armenian nationals. Large portions of the city’s green parks and other public spaces have been commercialized for private and exclusive use, creating zones that are accessible only to the affluent. In this dissertation I explore the rapidly transforming landscape of Yerevan and its connections to the development of contemporary Armenian national identity. This research was guided by principles of ethnographic inquiry, and I employed diverse methods, including document and archival research, structured and semi-structured interviews and content analysis of news media. I also used geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite images to represent and visualize the stark transformations of spaces in Yerevan. ^ Informed by and contributing to three literatures—on the relationship between landscape and identity formation, on the construction of national identity, and on Soviet and post-Soviet cities—this dissertation investigates how messages about contemporary Armenian national identity are being expressed via the transforming landscape of Armenia’s national capital. In it I describe the ways in which abrupt transformations have resulted in the physical and symbolic eviction of residents, introducing fierce public debates about belonging and exclusion within the changing urban context. I demonstrate that the new additions to Yerevan’s landscape and the symbolic messages that they carry are hotly contested by many long-time residents, who struggle for inclusion of their opinions and interests in the process of re-imagining their national capital. This dissertation illustrates many of the trends that are apparent in post-Soviet and post-Socialist space, while at the same time exposing some unique characteristics of the Armenian case.^

Subject Area

Geography|Political Science, International Relations

Recommended Citation

Diana K Ter-Ghazaryan, "Re-imagining Yerevan in the post-Soviet era: Urban symbolism and narratives of the nation in the landscape of Armenia's capital" (January 1, 2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI3431313.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3431313

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