LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Studies Center of the University of California, Los Angeles’ Promise Armenian Institute will present “Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword? Historians, Disputed Ownership of History, and Ethnic Conflict in the South Caucasus,” a two-day international conference that will take place on Friday, January 28 and Saturday, January 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. via the Zoom Webinar platform.
The profession of history and its practitioners have often been at the forefront or in the trenches of ethnic conflicts and cleansings from the Balkans to the Former Soviet Union. In Hobsbawm’s memorable phrase, “historians are to nationalism what poppy-growers in Pakistan are to heroin addicts: [they] supply the essential raw material for the market. Nations without a past are contradictions in terms. What makes a nation is the past; what justifies one nation against others is the past, and historians are the people who produce it.”
Spurred by the violence and monument-destruction in the mountainous region of Karabakh, this symposium brings together some of the world’s leading authorities to examine the role of historians in fanning the flames of ethnic/territorial conflicts across the troubled landscape of the South Caucasus. Examining case studies from Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia to Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh and its surrounding regions and Nakhijevan in Azerbaijan, scholars will present comparative and connective histories of how the historian’s craft and its proponents have been implicated in the incitement of conflict and the destruction of cultural heritage.
Topics to be explored include Soviet nationality policy, the production of national histories for the South Caucasian nationalities, the standardization of curricula of national histories under Soviet and post-Soviet rule, and the destruction of historical monuments. A concluding plenary panel will assess the question of historical memory in the South Caucasus and how historians in the region can help facilitate peace and conflict resolution.
Registration for this conference is required and free. To register, visit the website; Upon registration, you will receive a unique link to the Zoom webinar. The conference will also live stream on Promise Armenian Institute’s YouTube channel.
This conference is organized with the support of the UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, the Society for Armenian Studies, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research.
The complete program of the conference—containing the list of the panelists, abstracts of their presentations, and biographical sketches of all speakers—is available on the event webpage.