Forty years ago five scholars, Richard Hovannisian, Avedis Sanjian, Dickran Kouymjian, Nina Garsoian, and Robert Thomson, met to found the Society for Armenian Studies, dedicated to the development of Armenian Studies as an academic discipline. Today the SAS has become the largest professional organization for scholars and students working in the field of Armenian Studies.
This year SAS celebrated its 40th anniversary with an international conference, “Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” held November 21-22, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
Seventeen scholars participated in three sessions during the two-day proceedings held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. SAS President Kevork Bardakjian (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) welcomed the scholars on Friday, November 21.
SAS Vice-President Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) organized the conference that opened with a session on “Contribution of the Armenians to Ottoman Culture, Society, Art, and Architecture.” Participating were Murat Yildiz (UCLA), Nora Cherishian Lessersohn (Harvard), Anahit Kartashyan (Saint Petersburg State University), and Heghnar Watenpaugh (University of California, Davis). Levon Avdoyan (Library of Congress) chaired the session with Rachel Goshgarian (Lafayette College) as discussant.
Barlow Der Mugrdechian (Fresno State) chaired the second session on “The Armenian Genocide and its Aftermath-Part I,” with Rouben Adalian (Armenian National Institute) as discussant. Presenters included Asya Darbinyan (Clark University), Ümit Kurt (Clark University), and Khatchig Mouradian (Clark University).
The third session, chaired by Bedross Der Matossian, was held on Saturday, November 22, and Simon Payaslian (Boston University) was the discussant. Presenters were Carina Karapetian Giorgi (Pomona College), Richard Hovannisian (UCLA), Keith Watenpaugh (University of California, Davis), and Gregory Aftandilian (Boston University).
Concluding remarks were given by Barlow Der Mugrdechian, who emphasized the importance of such a gathering, which brought together younger scholars with more senior colleagues, and provided an opportunity for an interesting exchange of ideas.
The papers presented penetrating insight into the significant role of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The SAS held its Annual Membership Meeting at 4:30PM on Saturday afternoon. His Excellency Tigran Sargsyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, graciously hosted SAS members and conference participants at a reception held later in the evening at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia.
Next year’s SAS Annual Meeting will be held in Denver, Colorado, November 21-24. For more information about the Society for Armenian Studies, or about the SAS Conference, including a full program, please visit the SAS website: societyforarmenianstudies.com.