For centuries, an innate entrepreneurial spirit and outward looking sense of adventure spurred Armenians to travel beyond their ancestral lands seeking fame and fortune in faraway lands. Along the Great Silk Road, enterprising Armenian traders and merchants left their mark on history, shaping the development of world civilization through commerce. Their well-traveled footprint throughout the capital cities and trading hubs of Asia has largely been overlooked in the West, leaving a precious part of history to wither in obscurity.
Over the last decade, however, a new generation of intrepid Armenians, inspired by a pioneering spirit or propelled by changes in the world order, have begun to revive the centuries-old Armenian leaning to the East.
As the Republic of Armenia sets the tone for a new era of engagement with Asian countries through a recent spate of summits, treaties, and official state visits, it is left to a new generation of Armenians now living and working in Asia to conduct the soft diplomacy so essential to an effective Asia-Armenian strategy.
As employees, students, artists, and business people from all parts of the Armenian world, these expats are working together and apart to serve as un-official representatives of the global Armenian identity—one defined by the same outward-looking perspective of those who came before. At the same time, they are working to preserve and promote the substantial legacy these predecessors left behind, both for Armenians and Asian society at large.
The stories to follow profile some of the people, places, and projects that are putting Armenians back on the Asian map. In turn, the first hand exposures of these cultural ambassadors stand to bring back valuable insight, experience, perspective to help promote mutual interests and understanding.
Banner photo courtesy of Peranakan Museum