The Hemshin: History, Society and Identity in the Highlands of Northeast Turkey, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Hemshin

History, Society and Identity in the Highlands of Northeast Turkey, 1st Edition

By Hovann Simonian


448 pages

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The Hemshin are without doubt one of the most enigmatic peoples of Turkey and the Caucasus. As former Christians who converted to Islam centuries ago yet did not assimilate into the culture of the surrounding Muslim populations, as Turks who speak Armenian yet are often not aware of it, as Muslims who continue to celebrate feasts that are part of the calendar of the Armenian Church, and as descendants of Armenians who, for the most part, have chosen to deny their Armenian origins in favour of recently invented myths of Turkic ancestry, the Hemshin and the seemingly irreconcilable differences within their group identity have generated curiosity and often controversy.

The Hemshin is the first scholarly work to provide an in-depth study of these people living in the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. This groundbreaking volume brings together chapters written by an international group of scholars that cover the history, language, economy, culture and identity of the Hemshin. It is further enriched with an unprecedented collection of maps, pictures and appendices of up-to-date statistics. The Hemshin forms part of the Peoples of the Caucasus series, an indispensable and yet accessible resource for all those with an interest in the Caucasus.


'The book, compiled by a representative group of scholars working in various fields of Oriental Studies, is the first fundamental and highly academic contribution to the study of the Hemshin society in Turkey. It includes a comprehensive range of information on almost every aspect of the historical past, culture, every-day life and identity of the inhabitants of the historical Hamshen region in present-day Turkey.' - Iran and the Caucasus, 11 (2007) 161-166

Table of Contents

Part 1: History 1. Morale, Cohesion and Power in the First Centuries of Amatuni Hamshen Anne Elizabeth Redgate 2. Hamshen before Hemshin: The Prelude to Islamicization Hovann H. Simonian 3. The Manuscript Painting of Hamshen Christina Maranci 4. Hemshin from Islamicization to the End of the Nineteenth Century Hovann H. Simonian 5. Ottoman Political and Religious Élites among the Hemshin: The Mid-Nineteenth Century to 1926 Alexandre Toumarkine 6. Interactions and Mutual Perceptions during the 1878-1923 Period: Muslims of Armenian Background and Armenians in the Pontos Hovann H. Simonian Part 2: Geography, Economy and Architecture 7. Notes on the Historical Geography and Present Territorial Distribution of the Hemshinli Hagop Hachikian 8. Social and Economic Structures of the Hemshin People in Çamlihemsin Erhan Gürsel Ersoy 9. Hemshin Folk Architecture in the Akbucak, Ortayol and Ugrak Villages of the County of Pazar in Rize Gülsen Balikçi Part 3: Language 10. Homshetsma: The Language of the Armenians of Hamshen Bert Vaux 11. Armenian in the Vocabulary and Culture of the Turkish Hemshinli Uwe Bläsing Part 4: Identity, State and Relations with Neighbours 12. Some Particulars of Hemshin Identity Hagop Hachikian 13. The Hemshin People: Ethnic Identity, Beliefs and Yayla Festivals in Çamlihemsin Erhan Gürsel Ersoy 14. Hemshinli-Lazi Relations in Northeast Turkey Ildikó Bellér-Hann 15. Turks and Hemshinli: Manipulating Ethnic Origins and Identity Rüdiger Benninghaus

About the Author

Hovann H. Simonian is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science of the University of Southern California. He is Swiss of Armenian origin and is the co-author (with R. Hrair Dekmejian) of Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics of the Caspian Region.

About the Series

Caucasus World: Peoples of the Caucasus

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies