Constructing a Nation: Identity Markers of Armenians

(According to the Mshak Periodical Published during 1872-1892)


  • Marieta Bazinyan Yerevan State University


Mshak, Grigor Artsruni, Armenian liberalism, Mshak's liberalism, identity markers, language, homeland, religion


The controversy about national identity in contemporary Armenian society is getting more and more intense. Diverse perspectives and opinions exist on this topic. Some are confident that Armenian national identity coincides with religious identity; some have a strong belief that religion is not an important component of national identity. The recent interview of Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, the current Primate of the Diocese of Artsakh of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), during which he asserted that a real Armenian is only an adherent of the AAC, sparked a major debate on the place of religion in the Armenian understanding of national identity. Some parts of Armenian society criticized this religious interpretation of national identity, asking how this relates to Muslim Armenians - the Hamshen people.

The formation of national identity is a complex process, and in order to have a good understanding of processes relating to debates about the content of national identity in contemporary Armenian society, an analysis of early stage Armenian national identity formation is very important. Paradoxically, no studies have explored how the XIX-century Armenian print media shaped the discourse on the Armenian identity. This article makes a contribution to the research in the field and attempts to fill the existing gap.

The purpose of this article is to provide an analysis of the early stage of Armenian national identity formation, namely the analysis of identity markers of Armenians as formulated by the liberal Armenian Mshak2 (Cultivator) periodical published in Tbilisi during 1872-1892.

A complex set of the following questions is discussed in the article: Which are the identity markers of Armenians according to the Mshak periodical? How do these identity markers correlate? How has Mshak defined the function of religion in the formation of Armenian national identity? Considering the three questions listed above, I will proceed with discussing Mshak’s understanding of their periodical’s role in Armenian society. I will then turn to analyzing the Mshak concepts of language and homeland, which were claimed by them to be the main identity markers of Armenians. Finally, I will try to show how Mshak perceived the function of religion, particularly the Armenian Apostolic Church, in the nation-building process.


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You and we // Mshak, issue 2, 1872

Our biggest enemy // Mshak, issue 40, 1872

It is required a sacrifice from us // Mshak, issue 45, 1873

Whose fault is it? // Mshak, issue 14, 1872

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Why don’t we understand each other // Mshak, issue 6, 1872

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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow // Mshak, issue 1, 1872

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Language and Life // Mshak, issue 11, 1872

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Who should we blame? // Mshak, issue 14, 1872

Religion and Nation // Mshak, issue 24, 1873

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How to Cite

Bazinyan, M. (2015). Constructing a Nation: Identity Markers of Armenians: (According to the Mshak Periodical Published during 1872-1892). Analytical Bulletin, 8, 67–80. Retrieved from