ANCA Western Region’s upcoming Grassroots Conference on Artsakh, to be held on Saturday, September 24 at the Sheraton Universal in Los Angeles, will be kicked off by the “Prevention of Cultural Genocide” bilingual panel featuring the Republic of Artsakh’s Deputy Minister of Culture Lernik Hovhannisyan, Prof. Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, and scholar Simon Maghakyan.
“Right now, as Azerbaijan is shelling the cities and sacred sites of southern Armenia, as well as bulldozing the historical villages, cemeteries, and churches of occupied Hadrut, the global Armenian community must galvanize all efforts to prevent further erasure,” remarked panel moderator Maghakyan, who is best known for his investigative research into Azerbaijan’s covert erasure of Nakhichevan’s Armenian past. “We must leave no stone unturned in preventing another full-scale cultural genocide, and that means understanding why, how, and when history-obsessed authoritarian regimes flatten politically-inconvenient cultural monuments,” continued Maghakyan. “This is not be a panel for mourning, but a discussion on how we, collectively and individually, can save Armenian monuments.”
The three speakers will make brief presentations, followed by a question and answer session. The Artsakh Republic’s Deputy Culture Minister will deliver his report on recent cultural losses in Artsakh in Armenian, with an English summary offered by the moderator.
A native of Karin Tak, a village in southern Artsakh currently occupied by Azerbaijan, Dr. Lernik Hovhannisyan is an educator, historian, politician, and Deputy Minister of Culture and Youth of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic. Dr. Hovhannisyan’s political career entails service in the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, leading the Ministry of Culture, and chairing the Artsakh National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defense, Security and Law Enforcement. His scholarship includes authoring more than a dozen books and atlases, lecturing at the Artsakh State University, and anchoring an educational program on Artsakh Public TV. The Deputy Minister has been involved in the recent evacuation of several dozen Armenian monuments from Aghavno, Berdzor, and Nerkin Sus. Speaking with Armenpress last month, he stated that around 46 objects of monumental art, as well as the entire repository of the Berdzor library, had been evacuated, among them an 11th-century khachkar. Dr. Hovhannisyan’s research publications include a study of forcefully Islamized Armenians in Artsakh, and ethnic cleansings of indigenous Armenians from Karvachar (Kelbajar) and Kashatagh (Lachin) in the 19th and 20th-centuries.
A native of Yerevan, Dr. Mashinka Firunts Hakopian is a Glendale-based writer, artist, and researcher. She is an Associate Professor in Technology and Social Justice at ArtCenter College of Design. Her work is concentrated in media studies, feminist and queer studies, visual culture, contemporary art, and SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) diaspora studies. Her research attends to cultural practices that intervene in existing sociotechnical systems to produce alternative imaginaries of the future. In 2021, she was a visiting Mellon Professor in the Practice at Occidental College, where she co-curated the exhibition “Encoding Futures: Critical Imaginaries of AI” with Meldia Yesayan at Oxy Arts. Prior to this, she held a two-year teaching appointment in UCLA’s Department of English. Her individual and collaborative work has received coverage in Art in America, Hyperallergic, Asbarez, Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, and Armenian Public Radio. She was recently a guest, along with Mariah Carey, on Duchess Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast. Prof. Hakopian’s book Algorithmic Bias Training, or, Lectures for Intelligent Machines is forthcoming from X Artists’ Books.
A native of Yerevan, Simon Maghakyan is a Denver-based researcher and organizer. His civic tenure includes nonpartisan service at Colorado’s legislature, human rights monitoring and advocacy at Amnesty International USA, community development for 18 ANCA Western Region states, executive leadership at Eastern Prelacy’s Save Armenian Monuments initiative, and service on the Western Diocese Artsakh Heritage Committee. Scholastically, Maghakyan is a lecturer at the University of Colorado Denver, non-resident PhD student in heritage crime at Great Britain’s Cranfield University, and Visiting Scholar at Tufts University. His initiatives include the Colorado State Capitol Armenian Genocide Khachkar Memorial, Djulfa.com, and the research firm Heritage Intel. Maghakyan’s writing has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. His collaborative 2019 Hyperallergic and 2021 The Art Newspaper investigative exposés of Azerbaijan’s cultural genocide in Nakhichevan have been cited in Armenia’s International Court of Justice case against Azerbaijan. The Guardian and Forbes Magazine have rated this research, respectively, “rock solid” and “groundbreaking,” and The Los Angeles Times has called Maghakyan “relentless.”
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.