Genocide, Diaspora and Political Activism
Why do citizens vote, join political parties or take to the streets? We seek to investigate two hitherto neglected channels: influence from the past, in the form of historical victimization, and influence from abroad, in the form of diasporas. We study the case of Armenia, where recently an entrenched government was brought down by large-scale protests and strikes.
Many of the ancestors of present-day Armenians had suffered mass violence and genocide at the turn of the 20th century. We investigate two channels of how this experience can influence political activism, one direct and one indirect. First, we hypothesize that historic victimization can have a direct impact on political attitudes and behavior. Specifically, the memories of violence may make people more aware of the need for protection of a strong state. Second, we investigate an indirect channel running from historic victimization to present-day political behavior. We hypothesize that individuals with diaspora contacts in Western countries will be more politically active.
Our study will contribute to two streams of literatures, both in political science and economics. First, we situate our study in the context of scholars seeking to understand the influence of the past on current-day behavior, and especially of family memories of violence on current-day political behavior. Secondly, we speak to the literature on cultural remittances.