International Conference “Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices through the Centuries” held at NAASR

“Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices Through the Centuries” held at the NAASR Building, September 17-18, 2022 BELMONT, Mass.—On September 17-18, 2022, the international conference “Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices Across the Centuries” was

“Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices Through the Centuries” held at the NAASR Building, September 17-18, 2022

BELMONT, Mass.On September 17-18, 2022, the international conference “Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices Across the Centuries” was held at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Vartan Gregorian Building.

The conference was organized and sponsored by the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) and NAASR with co-sponsorship from the Institute of Armenian Studies at the University of Southern California, the Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies at the University of Harvard, California State Armenian Studies Program University of Fresno, University of California Irvine Armenian Studies Program, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center and the Armenian Studies Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The conference featured papers from scholars from Armenia, the United States, Hungary and Australia, mostly attending in person, but several joined via Zoom.

Welcome remarks on September 17 were delivered by representatives of the SAS and the NAASR. SAS President Bedross Der Matossian of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, thanked supporters and co-sponsors of the conference and stressed the importance of the conference being the first to be held in the new NAASR building. , which had its inauguration shortly before the onset of COVID-19, and that SAS “looks forward to more fruitful cooperation with NAASR in the years to come”. NAASR Director of Academic Affairs Marc Mamigonian stressed that bringing scholars together in the building to share their work and interact with each other and the general public is the ultimate achievement of what was hoped for during of the conceptualization of the building.

Dzovinar Derderian of UC Berkeley set the conference theme with Christopher Sheklian of Radboud University. In her opening remarks, she said the idea for the concept dated back several years and was “the result of Christopher Sheklian and my separate but intersecting interests in the questions of how forms and means of storytelling have shaped diverse communities. Armenians and how Armenians in turn shaped these mediums and genres of communication.

First session: Narrative practices and power

The first session of the conference was “Narrative Practices and Power” and included four papers with Marc Mamigonian as chair and commentator. Armen Abkarian (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), “Forging The Crown of Togarmah: Vahram’s Chronicle and the Creation of Cilician Armenian Kingship”, focused on Vahram’s Chronicle and his strategies for projecting the power and legitimacy of Armenian Cilician kings, as well as its place in a tradition of Armenian historiography which sought to legitimize this or that ruler, but also how the Chronicle draws inspiration from non-Armenian forms and styles. Asya Darbinyan (Clark University), “Stories of Refugee Struggle and Assistance through the Periodicals of Imperial Russia”, discussed the coverage of the plight of Armenian refugees in various periodicals published in the Russian Empire during World War I, both in Russian and Armenian, and posed a key question: “What did the imperial central periodicals focus on compared to their Armenian counterparts?

In his presentation “Visual Forms of Communication as a Tool and Sign of Revolutionary Changes”, Harutyun Marutyan (Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia) took a close look at the posters and banners of the Karabakh movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, focusing on the question of legitimacy, in this case how the movement, through its posters, affirmed the legitimacy of its cause by invoking a document, the Soviet constitution, and a concept, the will of the people. Hasmik Khalapyan (American University of Armenia) in “Narratives of Atheism in Forging a Soviet Armenian Citizen” provided a detailed overview of the history and modes of communication used in Soviet Armenia to promote the communist doctrine of atheism to a nation with a strong Christian church and tradition.

Session 2: Communication technologies and identity creation

On September 18, the conference continued with “Communication and Identity-Building Technologies”, with Zoom presentations by Natasha Parnian (Macquarie University), “A World in Crisis: Reconstructing Identity in Late Armenia ” and Diana Ghazaryan (Pázmány Péter Catholic University), “Through the prism of history: Photographic modes of inhabiting the Holy Land by 19th and 20th century Armenians”, and, in person, Shushan Khachatryan (Museum-Institute Genocide), “Sacred Objects as Symbols of the Armenian Genocide Survival Stories.” Nora Lessersohn of University College London was the chair and commentator.

All of the articles have addressed forms of communication such as manuscripts, books, photographs and prayer rolls which double as mediating devices and through their mediation serve as objects of identity formation. Parnian discussed the development of the Armenian alphabet – a most fundamental communication technology – which, by being used to translate Christian literature in particular, forged a visual and intellectual relationship between Armenianness, or Armenian identity, and Christianity. Ghazaryan examined photographs that not only serve to connect or mediate their viewers with the stories they tell, but also situate Armenian photographers themselves as mediators, between figures who could connect their local community, l ‘East’, with the communities of the ‘West.’ Khachatryan presented examples of ancient manuscripts, ritual and prayer books, and hmayils [prayer scrolls] which serve as conversation starters that allow viewers to learn about Armenian survival stories and thereby better understand Armenians as survivors across multiple generations.

Session 3: Adapting to change

The panel “Adaptation to change: mobility, evolution of socio-economic models and communication technologies” began with a lecture by Jesse Arlen (Zohrab Information Center), “An Old Technology in a New Era: The Use of the Scroll ( Hmayil) among modern-day Armenians”, concerning hmayil, the extraordinary scroll-like medium that emerged in the early modern period, and answered questions such as “Who produced these scrolls, for whom were they produced, and for what purposes?” and “How the content of hmayils help explain their function and use among early modern Armenians? Gayane Ayvazyan (Harvard University), “The ‘Diary’ of Eremia Komurjian: The Writing of Everyday,” offered an insight into Eremia’s life and journey, focusing on what her work tells us about the everyday, in productive contrast to earlier scholarly work. work. The third article was by Anush Sargsyan, and it dealt with the extraordinary T/O (orbis terrarium) map, which was studied in depth by Rouben Galichian. Sargsyan took a different approach in seeking to understand the work in the context of its host manuscript, MS 1242 of the Matenadaran. Christina Maranci (Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies, Harvard University), acted as session chair and commentator.

Session 4: Can the provinces speak?

The last panel, “Can the provinces speak? Mainstreaming Peripheral Narratives and Perspectives on Ottoman-Armenians,” focusing on the theme of access to life for provincial Ottoman Armenians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anna Aleksanyan (Clark University), ‘Provincial Khmoratip School Press as a Platform for Representation of Women’s Issues’, delved into a relatively unknown source or set of sources that provide a wealth of information about provincial life and in particular on women’s issues, marking a significant contribution since the Armenian women’s movement has so far been examined more through newspapers and books published in Constantinople and other metropolises.

Nora Bairamian (UCLA), “Assessing the Development of Armenian Nationalism in the Ottoman Borderlands Through the Genre of the Short Story”, discussed the different responses of the provincial masses to the emerging or ongoing revolutionary movement around them, drawing on two short stories written by provincial authors, Tlgadintsi of Kharpert in 1911 and Rupen Zartarian, who also grew up in Kharpert and was a pupil of Tlgadintsi. Varak Ketsemanian (Princeton University), “The Memoirs of Boghos Shadig (1874-1951): Subaltern Voices of the Armenian Revolutionary Movement”, focused on the scholarship of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, both grassroots and scholarly, who tended to focus on the leadership of the movement rather than lower-level revolutionaries such as Boghos Shadigian, whose account nevertheless expands our understanding of how nationalist and revolutionary ideology spread among the masses in the provinces. Lerna Ekmekçioğlu (McMillan-Stewart Associate Professor of History), acted as chair and commentator for this final panel.

Closing Remarks by New President Mashtots

“The speakers took us from late antiquity to the modern period, from Artsakh to Jerusalem, and from Constantinople to the eastern provinces; they looked at the epic and the everyday, they spotlighted lowly objects and lesser-known genres, they gave voice to the subordinate, featured regional and micro stories, and told the story ‘from below’,” said Maranci. Furthermore, the conference “reflects a significant shift in how we approach the history, literature, and culture of previous decades, and demonstrates the current and powerful engagement of Armenian studies with movements and developments in so many fields. “. Derderian then led a general discussion on the papers and general themes of the conference.

“Communication Technologies and Armenian Narrative Practices Through the Centuries” held at the NAASR Building, September 17-18, 2022

The Society for Armenian Studies

The Society of Armenian Studies is an international body, composed of scholars and students, whose objectives are to promote the study of Armenian culture and society, including history, language, literature and social, political and economic issues; facilitate the exchange of scientific information relating to Armenian studies worldwide; and to sponsor panels and conferences on Armenian studies.

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