Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Diaspora Internet Presence | Switzerland and Germany

One way of tracking how organised migrants abroad are is simple -- just check the web. During a less exciting conference presentation, we browsed how the people from the Caucasus represent themselves -- checking Germany and Switzerland, since these are less likely to offer a plethora of sites. As you might have guessed, Armenia stands out with the most organised webpresence. Let's look at what they are up to. is very active, with a forum, and many events, And once you see that there is a "flirt area", the Armenian-Rhenish boat party will not really surprise you.

Certainly an active community!

In Switzerland, stands out. This is a Zürich group, young, with soccer games, volleyball, singing, an Armenian Summer Camp in Tessino, and a weekly language school. Knowing Switzerland well, I couldn't help noticing some very Helvetian traits, and not just in the fondue evenings. The website symbol combines the Zurich Churchtowers with Armenian colours

And then there is another Swiss group, too: more francophone, more political, with a lobbying component, for example asking Swiss election candidates for a detailed response on Armenian issues. Surely a balancing act for politicians, since there are Turkish voter groups as well.

You find them here. And again, some peculiar components: their major support the homeland project is... solar electricity.

Last stop, A neat, professional site, based in Cologne, referring to local communities around churches, structured as incorporated associations. According to that site, there are 40.000 Armenians in Germany.

This isn't even exhaustive, just some snapshots. Next post: Georgian groups. They certainly are less visible. A Google search for "Zentralrat der Georgier" (roughly: "association of Georgians") returns:

No such Georgian hits! We are right back with the Armenian Central Council in Germany. It appears that in migration, the two cultures take very different directions in the level of their organization.

Ideally we'd like to measure that. Any creative suggestions how? (Number of mobile entries in migrants' mobile phones? Internet/Skype usage?)


Eistein G. said...

This one is quite active in Germany

Besides I think the amount of Armenians are huge compared to Georgians. Georgians also seem to be more individualists and occupied by arts, music, theater.. having their personal websites and blogs rather than creating forums. They also prefer to meet and keep more personal contact from what I have been told regarding the ones located in Germany (Munic is the only place I know anything about Gerogians in Germany though). Skype is also a frequetly used tool among the Georgians I know for personal contact across the whole of Europe, US and Georgia. And the precence of Georgians on Facebook is growing rapidly. I think I would do some research on Facebook rather than conventional web, because creating websites with html is a scares ability among young peole, and given the social structure of Facebook it's possible to chart out their contacts and those contact's whereabouts. So you could easily create big charts of networks and put them together in order to find some data on the Georgian diaspora.

In the last couple of months I got a lot of Georgian contacts on Facebook, so it seems like the innovators have definitely entered the arena.

Maybe I went a bit of track here, but what the h....:-)

Onnik Krikorian said...

I wonder how much of this is also related to Diasporas in themselves. Not only are Armenians larger, but they are also more established.

Another aspect to this is keeping identity alive and how the Genocide relates to this. Look at all ethnic groups which are either without states or consider that part of their historical homeland is within another country and they are also pretty active especially when politics and lobbying comes into play.

Look at Kurdish communities, for example, who used the Internet (and satellite broadcasting) to a much larger extent than Armenians even a decade ago. Of course, they're a larger and more politicized (but also divided) group as well.

Anonymous said...

In the US there are several of these:,, and - these are managed by emigrants themselves. - is a more official one.
But I do not think that Facebook is something to look at unless you are interested in, say, "educated" migrants, those who study abroad - most of migrants who perform domestic jobs, etc. often have no access to internet.