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Society for Armenian Studies Holds Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Left to right: Dr. Richard Hovannisian, Asya Darbinyan,
Varak Ketsemanian, Dr. Sylvia Kasparian, Ambassador Grigor
Hovhannissian, Dr. Rouben Adalian, and SAS President
Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian at the Armenian Embassy.
Photo: ASP Archive

Staff Report

The Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) held a series of activities and a conference to mark its 44th Annual Meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C.

The featured event was an international conference, “Transmitting Western Armenian to the Next Generation” that took place on Saturday, November 18. The innovative conference, co-sponsored by the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) and the Armenian Communities Department of the Gulbenkian Foundation, was held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, in Washington, D.C.

The SAS held its Annual Meeting on November 18, immediately following the Conference. Members were welcomed by SAS President Barlow Der Mugrdechian (California State University, Fresno), who presented reports on various activities of the Society. Earlier that same day, the SAS Executive Council had met to focus on strategic planning and to map out the future direction of the organization.

A reception, hosted by Grigor Hovhannissian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, was held at the Armenian Embassy in Washington D.C., following the Annual Meeting. Community members and SAS scholars mixed in a warm atmosphere. In his remarks Ambassador Hovhannissian noted the important role that that SAS members play by their research and publications.

Seated, left to right, Jesse Arlen, Elizabeth Mkhitarian, Dr. Shushan Karapetian, Dr. Hagop Gulludjian. Standing, left to right: Dr. Myrna Douzjian, Dr. Vartan Matiossian, Ani Garmiryan, Dr. Sylvia Kasparian, and Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian.
Photo: Khatchig Mouradian

The Conference on “Trans-mitting Western Armenian” consisted of two sessions. The first, entitled “Teaching Armenian in a Diasporan Context,” was chaired by  Myrna Douzjian (UC Berkeley). The session had presentations by Ani Garmiryan (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation), “It Takes a Village to Raise a… Language”; Sylvia Kasparian (Université de Moncton), “For a Multilingual Approach in Teaching Modern Western Armenian in the Diaspora”; and Jesse Arlen (UCLA), “Ո՞ւր են բանալիներդ—An Innovative Method for Teaching Western Armenian in the Diaspora.”

The second session was entitled “Creative Literacy and Heritage Language: The Case of Western Armenian” and also featured three presentations: Hagop Gulludjian (UCLA), “Promoting ‘Creative Literacy’”; Shushan Karapetian (UCLA), “Eastern Armenian Speakers as Potential Western Armenian Learners: Reflections on Second Dialect Acquisition”; and Elizabeth Mkhitarian (UCLA), “To Create and Belong: A Case Study of Creative Writing in Heritage Language Instruction.”

Vartan Matiossian gave concluding remarks for the Conference.

In addition to the Conference, the Society of Armenian Studies sponsored two panels as part of MESA. The first panel, organized by Owen Miller and Ümit Kurt, and entitled “The Great Fear of 1895: Armenian Reform, Rumor and Violence Across the Ottoman Empire,” took place on Sunday, November 19.

Three papers were given: Owen Miller (Union College), “George Perkins Knapp of Bitlis and Massacres of 1895”; Emre Can Dağlioğlu (Clark University), “Reform and Violence in the Hamidian Era: 1895 Anti-Armenian Riots in Trabzon”; and Uğur Peçe (Harvard University), “The Year of Rumor: Crete in the Shadow of the Armenian Massacres of 1895.” The discussant for the panel was Edhem Eldem (Boğaziçi University).

Left to right: Dr. Edhem Eldem, Dr. Owen Miller, Emre Can Dağlioğlu, Dr. Uğur Peçe, and Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian at the SAS sponsored panel on Sunday, November 19.
Photo: ASP Archive

The second panel, entitled “Humanitarianism in the Ottoman Empire During World War I” was organized by Stacy Fahrenthold and took place on Tuesday, November 21. It included papers by Melanie S. Tanielian (University of Michigan), “Nourishing Bodies and Souls: The Maronite Church’s Relief Effort in Mount Lebanon during the Great War”; Stacy Fahrenthold (California State University, Stanislaus), “American Relief and Émigré Politics in the Syrian Mahjar”; Asya Darbinyan (Clark University), “Can Refugees Speak? Humanitarian Crisis at the Ottoman-Russian border (1914-1917)”; and Khatchig Mouradian (Columbia University), “Not like a Lamb to the Slaughter: Humanitarian Resistance during the Armenian Genocide.”

The SAS represents scholars and teachers in the field of Armenian Studies. It publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, available on its website: societyforarmenianstudies.com.

For more information about the Society, please contact SAS President Barlow Der Mugrdechian at barlowd@csufresno.edu.