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Tamar Shirinian

Tamar Shirinian

Assistant Professor


I am a cultural anthropologist invested in the wide areas of queer theory and studies, transnational feminisms, political economy, the processes of postsocialism, psychoanalysis, and more recently medical and psychological anthropology.

My first book project investigates the intersections of political-economy, gender, and sexuality in the postsocialist Republic of Armenia. Survival of a Perverse Nation: Queer Transformations in Postsocialist Armenia is a queer ethnography that takes postsocialist transformations as its object of study, showing how a widespread rhetoric of perversion (aylandakutyun) conveyed a sense of an Armenia on a queer and perverse path toward no future. These senses of perversion have been mapped onto gender and sexuality, as a rising right-wing nationalist movement projects everyday political and economic tensions onto sexual perversion (aylaserutyun). Alongside this book, my research has also explored feminist movements, the 2018 “Velvet Revolution,” and the strategies of fake news in Armenia as well as broader questions of non-Western forms of sexuality and sexual culture and the relationship between sexuality and geopolitics.

My most current research takes up questions of access and equity in mental healthcare in the United States. This work is propelled by questions around differential access to structures of care (i.e. health insurance, medical and psychological resources), how those structures operate, and how various actors within them negotiate boundaries. Most recently, these interests have taken me to Houston, TX where I have begun exploring the nexus of trauma and recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and longer crises and disasters due to toxicity, segregation, and gentrification in the city.

Anthropological inquiry and ethnographic methodology have led to my involvement in a number of other projects, such as collaborations with visual and performance artists and the writing of ethnographic fiction.

Tamar Shirinian on Digital Fakeness in Armenia: PoLAR Author Interview



Research areas: queer anthropology, queer theory, feminist theory, feminist anthropology, transnational feminisms, kinship studies, socialism and postsocialism, political economy, digital cultures, anthropology of crisis, geopolitics, sovereignty, anthropology of space and place, psychoanalysis, Armenian studies, revolution, social movements, psychological anthropology, medical anthropology, trauma, recovery, healing.

DDHR Research Projects


B.A. (2007) Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California – Berkeley

M.A. (2012) Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Ph.D. (2016) Cultural Anthropology, Duke University,

Certificate in Feminist Studies (2016) Duke University


Book Project:

Survival of a Perverse Nation: Queer Transformations in Postsocialist Armenia, in preparation


Special Issue:

Co-edited with Carina Giorgi Karapetian. 2018. “Queering Armenian Studies.” Armenian Review, 56 (1-2).

          Co-authored with Carina Girorgi Karapetian. 2018. “Queering and Querying Mode(s) and Object(s) of Study.” Armenian Review, 56 (1-2): iv-vii.

          2018. “A Note on Cover Art: A conversation with lucine talalyan.” Armenian Review, 56 (1-2):131-132.


Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

2019. “Fakeness: Digital Inauthenticity and Emergent Political Tactics in Armenia.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review no. 42 (2).  

  1. “The Nation-Family: Intimate Encounters and Genealogical Perversion in Postsocialist Armenia.” American Ethnologist no. 45 (1): 48-59.
  1. “A Room of One’s Own: Woman’s Desire and Queer Domesticity in the Republic.” Armenian Review 56 (1-2): 61-90.
  2. “Queer Life-Worlds in Postsocialist Armenia: Alternativ Space and the Possibilities of In/Visibilities,” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ World-making 5 (1): 1-23.
  1. Erkeklerden Sonra: Kurgusal Bir Etnografi [After Men: a Fictional Ethnography],” translated into Turkish by Cagri Yoltar. Jineoloji 7: 123-136.
  2. “Sovereignty as a Structure of Feeling: The Homosexual within Post-Cold War Armenian Geopolitics.” lamda nordica, 2-3: 93-124.

In Press. “Gender Hysteria: The Other Effects of Public Policy,” in Gender, Sexuality and Public Policy, edited by Chima Korieh. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

In Press. “To Foresee the Unforeseeable: LGBT and Feminist Civil Society and the           Question of Feminine Space in Postsocialist Armenia,” in Is Female to Male as NGO is to State? edited by Andria Timmer. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.


Selected Public Scholarship

  1. “State Paternalism and State Feminism.” In Dialogues with Power, edited by Susanna Gyulamiryan, 43-54. Moscow: Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. See the video interview: Bolshevik Feminism and the Radical Potentials of Intimate Life

December, 2017. “Decolonizing Armenia: Tensions in Theory and Practice.” Heinrich Böll Foundation.

December, 2016. “The Armenian Violence Question: A Conversation on Means and Social Change.” Digital Conversation with Nelli Sargsyan. Public Seminar.

June 22, 2016. “The Queer Political is Geopolitical.” American Anthropological Association Blog.

February, 2016. “Saying ‘No!’: Negation as Future-Making.” Anthropology News.

December, 2015. “Observations on ‘Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran’: Between    Psychoanalysis as Practice and Social Theory.” For “Scholars Notebook” on        IslamiCommentary: A Forum for Public Scholarship.

February, 2013. “Nationalism and Sexuality in Modern Armenian Discourse.” New     Eastern Politics.

April, 2012. “Azgaynakanutyunn u serakanutyuny ardi hayasdanyan diskursum [in          Armenian].” Hetq.

November, 2012. “The History of the Concept of ‘Gender’,” As You E-magazine, 6th edition.

March, 2013. “Double Discrimination and Systematic Social Inequality.” As You E- magazine. 7th edition.

March, 2013. “The Myths People Tell About Family and Sexuality: Traveling from the U.S. to   Armenia as a Researcher.” As You E-magazine. 7th edition.


Tamar Shirinian

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