This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
In the short period between 1905 and 1911, the Middle East and Caucasus experienced three revolutions: the Russian, Iranian, and Ottoman. One of the key factors that helped shape and connect them was the circulation of revolutionaries – in the case of this paper, Armenians – arms, print, and ideas that crossed physical frontiers and in the case of ideas intellectual frontiers, too. Ideologies, like socialism, made their way from the South Caucasus and Western Europe to Iran and were adapted, adjusted, and altered according to political, social, and economic circumstances as well as cultural preferences. Early twentieth-century socialism not only came by various means, that is, through roving revolutionaries, workers, and print – all taking advantage of the technological component of what David Harvey calls “time-space compression,” or a “shrinking of the world” due to revolutions in technologies of communication and transportation” – but it also came in many varieties, was often loosely expressed, and commonly intersected with nationalism despite attempts by some to view it merely in its strictly Marxist sense. Armenian socialists in Iran and the Caucasus ran the gamut from the minority social democrats to the socialist-nationalist Dashnaks and everything in-between like the Hnchaks. What versions of socialism they espoused was for the most part due to changing local, regional, and global circumstances and needs as well as their relationship with the national question. Influences came not only from reading, translation, and disseminating ideas and revolutionary literature; it also involved face-to-face encounters, correspondence, and even collaboration between revolutionaries in Iran and the Caucasus on the one hand and European revolutionary thinkers in the other. Based on Dashnak archival documentation and Armenian-language contemporary European, Caucasian, Iranian, and Ottoman periodicals, this paper will explore the circulation and transformation of revolutionary ideas as they traversed across imperial frontiers as well as the vehicles through which they filtered into revolutionary thought, i.e., print. Thousands of copies of multilingual revolutionary periodicals made their way to the Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire from Europe and even the United States often through Iran or originated in the Caucasus and travelled west and south. They are significant in tracing perceptions of and approaches to revolution and ideologies. They served to inform, enlighten, and propagate. Armenian revolutionaries in Iran and the Caucasus were very much aware of the motivational and propagandistic effect of print, as they invested much energy and time in seeing to their publication, circulation, and dissemination.