The nation-family

Intimate encounters and genealogical perversion in Armenia

by TAMAR SHIRINIAN

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Anthropological theorists have often dismissed the notion of nation-as-family as an abstraction or as evidence of nationalist sentiment. But in postsocialist Armenia, nation is practiced as family. Everyday intimate encounters in public carry narratives of genealogical belonging and expectations based on forms of kin relation. This is particularly notable in the experiences of queer subjects—those who fail to meet the demands and expectations to belong to the nation-family and who thus disrupt national sensibilities of propriety and genealogical continuity. Those who are genealogically perverse experience the nation-family as unbearably intimate. This intimacy, however, makes possible acts that introduce queer difference into what national propriety means.