Accepted Paper:

'Journey to the future': homeland trips among diasporic Armenians  

Author:

Tsypylma Darieva (ZOiS, Centre for East European and international Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper highlights the 'slowness' and a growing intensity of long-distance homeland trips among diasporic roots migrants in Armenia. Specific features of contemporary diasporic 'sacred journey to the future' differ from conventional return migrations and have a temporary character.

Paper long abstract:

This paper highlights the 'slowness' of long-distance homeland trips among diasporic roots migrants. The second- and later-generations of diasporic Armenians predominantly from the USA and Canada claim to travel to the ancestral homeland not as occasional heritage tourists to see the holy Mount Ararat, but to invest time and unpaid work for 'getting back to the roots' and for sustainable development of local communities. Based on ethnographic research in Armenia and Boston, this paper identifies specific features of a contemporary diasporic 'journey to the future' that differs from conventional return migration.

Lasting from one month up to two years, homeland trips are very much affected by diasporic imaginaries and modern volunteering aspirations. Emerged as part of the US American 'roots' industry and propagated as an effort to counteract the process of cultural assimilation, new border crossing 'ethnic' routes offer not only a specific destination for self-discovering, a pilgrimage to the sacred homeland, but also an opportunity to save the planet. I reflect on the ways diasporic actors conceptualize a slow 'journey to the future' by developing a practice of planting sustainable 'roots' for future generations as an important element of the homeland trip. This long-term campaign of greening the ancestral territory paradoxically caused a 'speedy' mode of community forest planting. By analysing imaginaries and practices of 'journey to the future' among diasporic Armenians, this paper provides critical insights into a slow culture of homeland trips and transnational 'green tours' in the context of global inequalities.

Panel P069
Slow travelling: a precious heritage or a sustainable strategy for future mobilities? [ANTHROMOB & IUAES-Tourism]