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Society for Armenian Studies Holds Annual Meeting in Washington, DC

Staff Report

L to R: Robert Hewsen, Levon Chorbajian, and SAS President Barlow Der Mugrdechian
L to R: Robert Hewsen, Levon Chorbajian, and SAS President Barlow Der Mugrdechian

The Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) held its annual membership meeting on November 23, 2002 in Washington DC. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 36th Annual Conference of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA). Founded in 1974, SAS is an international organization which represents more than 200 scholars and teachers involved in the field of Armenian studies. The Secretariat of the Society is headquartered at the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State.

SAS President Barlow Der Mugrdechian welcomed members to the annual meeting. Various reports were given on different aspects of the Society’s activities: the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, the Newsletter, and information on various other items.

Der Mugrdechian announced the election of George Bournoutian of Iona College and Simon Payaslian of Clark University to the Executive Council of SAS, joining continuing members, Houri Berberian (CSU Long Beach), Levon Chorbajian (Univ. of Massachusetts, Lowell), Barlow Der Mugrdechian (CSU Fresno), Christina Maranci (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Garabet Moumdjian (CSU Northridge). Outgoing members of the Executive Council are Richard Hovannisian (UCLA) and Robert Hewsen (Rowan University of New Jersey, Emeritus).

In addition to the business activities and various panels, there was time for SAS members to meet with the local Armenian community.

Vartkes and Rita Balian of Crystal Grove, Virginia, invited SAS members for a reception in their home, following the SAS annual meeting on Saturday. The guests were warmly received and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of the hosts, who are active in the Armenian community.

On Sunday evening, November 24th, H. E. Arman Kirakossian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, welcomed SAS members and community members to a reception held at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia. For many of the guests, it was a first-time visit to the Embassy and Ambassador Kirakosian personally escorted members for a tour of the Embassy building. SAS members enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador, his staff, and community members.

In addition to the business meeting of the Society, a number of panels and papers with Armenian themes were presented during the three day MESA meeting. On Sunday, November 24, there was a panel “Confronting Past and Future: the Armenian Case,” sponsored by the Society for Armenian Studies. Richard G. Hovannisian, of UCLA chaired the panel, which included the following papers: Richard G. Hovannisian, UCLA, “Armenian Memories of Life and Conflict in the Ottoman Empire;” Rubina Peroomian, UCLA, The Challenges of the New Century to Capture the Genocide in Art and to Encompass the Echoes of the Surviving People’s Collective Psyche;” Joyce Apsel, New York University, “Human Rights and the Internet: Pedagogical Challenges;” Henry Theriault, Worcester State College, “Denial, Absolute Positivism, and a Response from Ibn Khaldun;” Dikran M. Kaligian, Boston College, “The Role of the American Media in the Armenia Case.”
Immediately following there was a panel on “Sacred and Secular in Dialogue Under the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (13th-14th centuries)” chaired by Robert H. Hewsen, Rowan University (Emeritus) and with papers by: Abraham Terian, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, “Church-State Relations at the Dawn of Kingship in Cilician Armenia;” S. Peter Cowe, UCLA, “Ecclesiology as Theory and Institution in the Doctrinal Debate with the Latins (1316-1340);” Christina Maranci, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Word and Image in the Armenian Alexander Romance.”

The film “Hokees” by Garine Torossian of Canada was a featured film in the MESA Film Fest.

Among other papers presented at the conference were those by: Hovann H. Simonian, University of Southern California, “The Hemshin of Northeast Turkey: Muslim Armenians or Armenian-Speaking Turks?;” Richard H. Dekmejian, University of Southern California, “Al-Qa’ida: Doctrinal and Historical Roots;” and Anny Bakalian, City University of New York, “Ethnic Mobilization: Middle Eastern Organizational Response to the Backlash.”

All meetings and panels were held in the conference hotel, the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.