Society for Armenian Studies Holds 34th Annual Meeting in San Diego with MESA Conference
Dr. SAS members at San Diego meeting.
Photo: ASP Archive
The Society for Armenian Studies held its 34th Annual Membership Meeting in the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California, on Thursday, November 17, in conjunction with the Middle East Studies Association 44th Annual Meeting.
The Society for Armenian Studies is a national and international organization representing more than 225 scholars and teachers in the field of Armenian Studies. SAS President Dr. Kevork Bardakjian welcomed members to the meeting, where various reports on SAS activities were read and discussed. Future plans for SAS activities and fund-raising were also discussed.
One of the more important aspects of the annual MESA conference is the opportunity for Armenian Studies scholars to present their work in pre-organized panels. These panels provide a forum for conference participants to review new research in the field and to ask questions regarding these findings.
Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Director of the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State, organized, together with Dr. Rubina Peroomian, a panel on “Grappling with the Memory of the Genocide: Turkish and Armenian Responses,” held on Saturday, November 20. Der Mugrdechian chaired the panel, where papers were read by Muge Salmaner, “Fragmented ‘I’ as a Challenge to History and Nation: The Case of Turkish Armenian Memoirs,” Michael Bobelian, “A Forgotten Genocide and the Century Long Struggle for Justice,” and Rubina Peroomian, “The Third-Generation Armenian-American Writers. Prof. Der Mugrdechian read an abstract by Sima Aprahamian, who was unable to be present, on the director Araz Artinian, and her film “The Genocide in Me.”
Salmaner’s paper focused on author Migirdic Margosyan’s autobiographical fiction in relation to official historiographical narratives in Turkey. Her paper showed how autobiographical fiction in the late twentieth century, written by minor authors such as Margosyan, have the potential to challenge both so-called unified homogenous national identity and conventions of autobiography writing in Turkey.
Bobelian’s paper focused on three areas of the Armenian Genocide: awareness of the Genocide through media coverage (1915-1923) and humanitarian assistance to the Armenians led by Near East Relief; how the world came to “forget” the Genocide and early efforts of Turkish denial; and the reasons why the Armenians were incapable of reminding the world of their experience prior to 1965.
Peroomian’s presentation focused on the Armenian-American Genocide literature —narrative prose or poetry, eyewitness accounts, memoirs, written especially by third-generation writers. Their works reflect the interconnection of the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian-American self-image or identity.
Other panels of interest at MESA included “The Armenian Genocide After 95 Years: Recent Developments and Future Prospects for Research,” and “Armenians, Assyrians, and the End of the Ottoman Empire.”
Prof. Sergio La Porta of the Armenian Studies Program gave a paper on “Some Implications of the Nature of Land Grants in Post-Seljuk Armenia,” as part of a panel on “Rethinking Land Grants, Waqf, and Taxation.”
On Friday night, the San Diego Armenian community hosted the Society for Armenian Studies members at the St. John Garabed Armenian Church. Local Armenian organizations co-hosting the event with the Church included the AGBU, Triple-X, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, and Armenian Relief Society. Dr. Bardakjian introduced SAS members who were present and gave a background of SAS. Rev. Fr. Datev Tatoulian, pastor of St. John, organized the reception.