Queer memory in Armenia

The "Queer Memory in Armenia" project is the first of its kind research in Armenia and the region, examining queer identity and memory. Expanding the narrow thematic scope of memory studies in Armenia, this project illuminates the queer culture of post-Soviet/independent Armenia by specifically focusing on the queer identity, its characteristics, and the memories shaped during the last few decades.

In the Armenian context, the constrained scope of cultural and memory studies, the dominant thematic orientations, and the prevailing role of conducted research studies lead to the exclusion of numerous presently crucial issues from the scope of memory studies. In particular, subjects related to queer identity remain taboo and silenced, even within academic circles. In response to the aforementioned issues, the "Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory" conducted the "Queer Memory in Armenia" research project in 2022. 

Tackling the delicate topics of queer culture, identity, and memory in Armenian society posed a major challenge for the CSN Lab. Nevertheless, it was fundamental for our team to amplify the silenced voices of people with queer identities. Over the course of months of work, we employed a variety of research methods, exploring queer identities and manifestations of memory across art and culture, urban and public spaces, as well as media and digital domains. From a methodological perspective, the gathering of oral stories through in-depth interviews played a pivotal role in realising the project. This approach shed light on the experiences of queer people, emphasising aspects such as self-recognition, internal conflicts, resistance to public pressures, and the achievement of the right and freedom to express their identity. 

A diverse team of professionals was involved throughout the entire process of project implementation, including cultural experts, anthropologists, media representatives, architects, cultural practitioners, and artists. The analysis written by the authors and excerpts from in-depth interviews with queer people are accompanied by thematic illustrations, visually representing the discussed topics and issues. This research would not have come to realisation without the trust and openness of queer people to share their personal stories, traumas, and layers of their queer identity.

The “Queer Memory in Armenia” project resulted in the development and publication of a book that addresses numerous topics and issues such as;

  • The freedom to (re)define, not define, and endlessly question queerness and queer identity;

  • The taboo of queer identity and the perception of otherness in Armenian heteronormative society;

  • The "truths" widespread among the general public aimed at suppressing, silencing, and stigmatising queer identity;

  • The stereotypical and problematic representation of queer identity and culture in Armenian media, particularly on television;

  • The freedom and new opportunities brought by digital dimensions and new media;

  • The portrayal of queer identity in Armenian culture, with a specific focus on its representation in literature;

  • Musical dimensions, specifically the electronic genre filled with the energy of freedom and liberation;

  • Queer spaces and places in urban environments, alongside the barriers and obstacles that hinder the visibility and manifestation of queerness and queer identity;

  • The cases of intolerance and pressures towards queerness and queer people within heteronormative society.

The "Queer Memory in Armenia" project is the first of its kind, serving as a potential starting point for further research on queer culture. The “Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory” is committed to implementing further projects on queer culture and memory from various perspectives and in different formats.

Illustrations by Har Toum


The "Queer Memory in Armenia" project has been implemented by the "Cultural and Social Narratives Laboratory" (CSN Lab) with the Support of Pink and SIDA.