Faith or Tradition: the Armenian Apostolic Church and Community-Building in Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh

  • 06/07/2016



It is no secret that the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) is closely connected with Armenian nationality and Armenian states (Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh). Previous studies have concentrated on surveying the privileges granted to it by these Armenian states. This study goes further by elucidating complementary relations between the AAC and these states in community-building. These states are suffering from the incompetence of local governments created by radical municipal reforms and the decollectivisation of agriculture during the 1990s. They need the help of the AAC, which is potentially able to mobilise rural intellectuals via church (parish) councils. The AAC wishes to reinforce its position, which it sees as endangered by various ‘sectarian’ challenges. Its weak appeal to faith (insufficient evangelisation) gives Protestant ‘sectarians’ abundant room for proselytism, against which the AAC intends to struggle ‘from below’ by its deeper involvement in community-building.

Author biographies


Kimitaka Matsuzato is a professor at the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University. Over the last decade (since 2003) he has concentrated on transnational politics in the Black Sea rim, in particular on politics around unrecognised states. His recent publications include ‘Transnational minorities challenging the interstate system: Mingrelians, Armenians, and Muslims in and around Abkhazia’, Nationalities Papers, 39, 5 (2011), pp. 811–31 and ‘Rebuilding a confessional state: Islamic ecclesiology in Turkey, Russia and China’ (coauthored with Fumiko Sawae), Religion, State & Society, 38, 4 (2010), pp. 331–60.

Stepan Danielyan has an MA in applied mathematics from Yerevan State University. In 1990 he was co-founder of the Mashtots newspaper in Yerevan and then worked as a political commentator and producer with Armenian national television. Since 2000 he has been the chairman of the Collaboration for Democracy Centre (Hamagortsaktsutyun hanun zhoghovrdavarutyan kentron), an NGO based in Yerevan, and since 2009 editor in chief of the journal Kron yev hasarakutyun (Religion and Society) and of the website Religions in Armenia (


Faith or Tradition: the Armenian Apostolic Church and Community-Building in Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh