Dr. Carel Bertram will present an in-person lecture, titled “A House in the Homeland: Armenian Pilgrimages to Places of Ancestral Memory,” at California State University, Fresno. The discussion will be held on Thursday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m., in the University Business Center, A. Peters Auditorium. The presentation is supported by the Clara Bousian Bedrosian Memorial Fund.
Following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the United States became an important refuge for genocide survivors. For these survivors, even the idea of returning to a homeland emptied of Armenians and filled with memories of death and terror was unthinkable, and few ever saw their beloved homes again. But slowly and much later, the survivors’ children, and, later, their grandchildren began to make forays to Turkey in search of their families’ lost houses in the towns villages that they had heard so much about.
Although they had never been there before, they bristled at the term “tourists,” as their profound attachments made them feel that they were hardly just curious visitors, but were, in a sense, returning home. Instead, many called their journeys pilgrimages, and referred to themselves as pilgrims.
Between 2007 and 2015, Carel Bertram traveled with over a hundred such pilgrims, and was in contact with many more, resulting in her book, “A House in the Homeland, Armenian Pilgrimages to Places of Ancestral Memory” (Stanford University Press, 2022.) In this talk, Bertram brings these pilgrimages and their impact to life, by telling some of their stories.
Dr. Carel Bertram is Professor Emerita in Middle East and Islamic Studies, Department of Humanities, San Francisco State University. Her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies was taken at the University of California at Berkeley, her Ph.D. in Islamic Art History at UCLA. Trained in the visual culture of the Ottoman and post-Ottoman era, she uses art, architecture, cities, literature, ethnography and oral histories to study how we use space and place to represent ourselves in the world; and also how it is that the memory of places creates a particular historical consciousness, especially when remembering a home lost to time or exile.
The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Fresno State Lots P6 and P5, near the University Business Center, located at 5245 N. Backer Ave., Fresno State. A free parking code can be obtained by contacting the Armenian Studies Program.
For information about upcoming Armenian Studies Program presentations, please follow us on our Facebook page, @ArmenianStudiesFresnoState or at the Program website, https://cah.fresnostate.edu/armenianstudies/index.html.