GLENDALE—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Western United States, in collaboration with the Cal State Northridge Armenian Studies Program, has organized a two-day academic conference, “Armenian Statehood Reborn: Achievements and Reflections,” to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first Republic of Armenia. The conference will take place on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 at the Plaza del Sol Hall on the campus of CSU Northridge.
The program will feature presentations by 15 scholars from across the world. In the weeks leading up to the conference, we will be presenting the biographies and abstracts of each of the speakers. This week, we would like to present three of our speakers during the two-day academic conference: Dr. Ashot Melkonyan, Dr. George Bournoutian, and Dr. Robert Krikorian.
Dr. Ashot Melkonyan is the Director of the Institute of History at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Yerevan State University. He has published his research in Armenia, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Georgia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iran. His research interests include historical demographics of Armenia, history of Javakhk, and Armenian-Georgian relations. Dr. Melkonyan is a recipient of the Movses Khorenatsi medal for his contributions to academia.
Dr. Melkonyan’s presentation will cover the declaration of a united Armenia signed on May 28, 1919. The re-establishment of independence in May 1918 on the territory of Eastern Armenia was not unanimously accepted by Western Armenians, by reason of it violating the rights of Western Armenians and dismissing the Armenian authorities in occupied Western Armenia. However, the Republic of Armenia signed a declaration of a united Armenia on May 28, 1919, on the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the republic. In doing so, the republic asserted power over Western Armenia as well. Thereafter, unfavorable geopolitical developments, such as the collaboration between Kemalists and Bolsheviks, led to the fall of the First Republic. The idea of a united Armenia never came to fruition but remained a figment of Armenian collective thought and a cornerstone of the Armenian cause.
Dr. George Bournoutian holds a Ph.D. in History from UCLA. He has held numerous teaching positions, currently as the Senior Professor of East European and Middle Eastern History at Iona College in New York. He has also occupied important administrative positions, such as Assistant Provost at Columbia University. A multilingual scholar, Dr. Bournoutian’s research interests include Iran, Armenia, and the South Caucasus. He is the author of thirty-six books and numerous articles and book chapters. Dr. Bournoutian’s “A Concise History of the Armenian People” has been translated into Armenian, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, Persian, and Japanese.
Dr. Bournoutian’s presentation is titled, “The Yerevan Province as the Foundation of the Armenian Republic.” In comparison to Tiflis and Baku, the inhabitants of Yerevan Province were overwhelmingly peasants who did not play a major role in the political, intellectual, or economic life of the South Caucasus. Dr. Bournoutian will attempt to answer the following questions: How did the Yerevan Province and the Armenian Republic manage to administer day-to-day life between November 1917 and December 1920? How, despite epidemics, lack of food, enemy attacks, and inundated with over 300,000 refugees, was the government able to function? Was the Armenian Republic, in its less than 1,000 days of existence, suddenly able to create the educational institutions, the courts and prisons, the postal-telegraph and transportation systems, the army, the medical and veterinary centers, the police, and the agricultural, irrigation and administrative structure which maintained it?
Dr. Robert Krikorian is the Director of Analytic Standards at the United States Department of State. He earned a Ph.D. in History and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, where he was an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He has taught at Harvard University and George Washington University and lectures regularly at the Foreign Service Institute, and throughout the U.S. government. Dr. Krikorian has published extensively on the modern history and politics of Armenia and Eurasia including the co-authored book, “Armenia: At the Crossroads.”
Dr. Krikorian will present a lecture titled “Armenian Memory vs. the Soviet State: The First Republic Remembered, 1988-1991.” The massacre at Sumgait in February 1988 essentially nullified a tacit social contract between the Armenian people and the Soviet government, in which Armenian loyalty to the Soviet State was exchanged for Soviet guarantees of the physical safety of Armenians. This understanding was based on a reading of history formulated by the Soviet State and articulated by Soviet Armenian intellectuals, in which Russia/USSR appeared as the only credible force capable of preventing the destruction of the Armenian people. After Sumgait, the “grand narrative” of Armenian history was reinterpreted by intellectuals, and increasingly by the population at large, which led to a fundamental rethinking of Armenia’s previous experiment with independence from 1918-1920.
The event will be free and open to the public. The conference is generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Cheryl Nadjarian. Further information about the program and speakers will be presented in the coming months. Please check the conference website the1strepublic.org for information and updates.