The Text of Deportation and Trauma in Autobiographical Writing: The Diary of Arpenik Aleksanian

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Elza-Bair Guchinova


This article is an analysis of the diary of Arpenik Aleksanian, published in 2007, which documents the deportation of Armenians from Tbilisi and their everyday life as “special settlers” (spetspereselentsy) in Siberia in 1949–53. The paper shows how the trauma of ethnic deportation is constructed in autobiographical writing. It pays attention to the stigmatization of Armenian identity and the dehumanization of the deportees as well as to changing gender roles. The diary chronicles the deportees’ everyday life and provides a micro-account of how repression was experienced. Its essentialist understanding of ethnicity notwithstanding, the diary demonstrates the constructed and instrumental nature of Armenian identity. To preempt censorship, the text was written in Russian. Despite self-censorship and avoidance of topics such as the female body, the diary employs a traumatic vocabulary of pain and fear. In Russian, summary in English.


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