The object of a new wave of interest, in Turkey itself and in the international community, since the end of the Cold War and the ensuing softening of restrictions to political freedom in Turkey during the 1990s, the Hemshins or Hemshinlis ― descendants of Muslim Armenians from Hamshen, speaking an Armenian dialect called Homshetsma ― are evoked in the present article through the permanence of their linguistic practice. No Hemshin intellectuals having yet come forward to invent or establish the credentials of a Hemshin nation (for the most part, the Hemshins have chosen to deny their Armenian origins in favour of recently invented myths of Turkic ancestry), the author looks into some of the causes of the continuity of Armenian linguistic practice among Hopa Hemshins. Among the reasons identified by H. H. Simonian comes the very fact that, besides being often confused with Kurds, the latter were long too unimportant to be a cause of worry for the Turkish state. He also mentions the absence of economically induced migrations among them, and their non-participation in the sometimes spectacular economic mobility and social ascent of the Bash Hemshins since as early as the 1850s. As a result, for over three centuries the Hemshins as a whole have been, together with groups like Muslim Georgians and Greek-speaking Muslims, part of “a common Black Sea Muslim society” that has successfully managed to transcend ethnicity and impose itself over ethnic differences.

The Redaction
CER: II-6.3.B-501