For more than eight decades, since their mass-resettlement to the Levant in the wake of the First World War, the Armenian communities of Lebanon and Syria appear to have successfully maintained a distinct identity as an ethno-culturally diverse group, in spite of representing a small non-Arab and Christian minority within a very different, mostly Arab and Muslim environment. The author shows that, while in Lebanon the state has facilitated the development of an extensive and effective system of Armenian ethno-cultural preservation, in Syria the emergence of centralizing, authoritarian regimes in the 1950s and 1960s has severely damaged the autonomy and cultural diversity of the Armenian community. However, since President Hafiz Al-Asad seized power in 1970, Armenian ethno-cultural diversity was able to make a partial recovery, as the community seemed to have come to a tacit arrangement with the regime. In Lebanon, on the other hand, the Armenian community suffered the consequences of the recurrent breakdown of the consociational arrangement that regulates public life.
Reconstructing Armenia in Lebanon and Syria