Columbia U Armenian Center Conference on Armenian Americans in 10/04

The Armenian Center at Columbia University
P.O.Box 4042,
Grand Central Station,
New York, NY 10163-4042

Contact: Anny Bakalian, conference organizer
Tel: (212) 817-7570
E-mail: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>
Website: <;
July 12, 2004


The Armenian Center at Columbia University will present a conference
entitled, “A Century of Armenians in America: Voices from New Scholarship”
on Saturday October 9, 2004. This one-day conference is hosted by the Middle
East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) of The Graduate Center,
City University of New York.

The conference will start at 10 a.m. (sharp) and end at 5 p.m. It will be
held in the Elebash Recital Hall at the Graduate Center, CUNY which is
located on 365 Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets (diagonal from the
Empire State Building). This event is free and open to the public. For more
information contact Anny Bakalian [email protected]
<mailto:[email protected]> or 212-817-7570 [].

As Armenian institutions and communities across the United States have been
celebrating their centenary anniversary in recent years, it is curious that
scholarship on Armenian immigrants and their descendants remains in its
infancy. Even though a handful of seminal works have been published on the
topic in the last couple of decades, there are still many gaps in our
knowledge. “A Century of Armenians in America: Voices from New Scholarship”
is the first conference of its kind that brings together almost all the
scholars who established the field of Armenian American and Diaspora studies
with the next generation of researchers. The conference will showcase the
research of historians, psychologists and sociologists who have earned their
doctoral degrees recently, and have devoted their dissertation topic to
Armenian immigrants and their descendants in the United States of America.
Their original research focuses on important topics such as adaptation,
assimilation, identity, community, social institutions and family.

The goal of the conference is to introduce the work of the new academics to
the general public and promote Armenian American studies as a distinctive
area of specialization within Armenian Studies and Middle Eastern Diaspora
Studies. The gathering of so many experts on Armenian Americans will
provide a context to members of the audience so they make sense of their own
experiences and vice versa. It is also the aim of this conference to
encourage graduate students in history and the social sciences to consider
writing their Master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations on Armenian American
topics. Students of immigration and ethnic studies should equally find the
conference insightful by comparing the Armenian experience with other
immigrant and ethnic groups in the United States and elsewhere.

The conference is organized by sociologist Anny Bakalian and author of
Armenian Americans: From Being to Feeling Armenian (Transaction Publishers,
1993). Bakalian is Associate Director of MEMEAC and serves on the board of
the Armenian Center of her alma mater Columbia University. Historian Robert
Mirak whose pioneering book, Torn Between Two Lands: Armenians in America
1890-World War I (Harvard University Press, 1983) forged Armenian American
studies and Arpena Mesrobian, Director Emerita at Syracuse University Press,
and author of “Like One Family” – The Armenians of Syracuse, (Gomidas
Institute, 2000) will be the honorary chairpersons of the conference. There
will be three panels, one in the morning and two in the afternoon. The
program is as follows:

Panel I: The Pioneers: Early Armenian Immigrants to the United States.

(1) Knarik Avakian, Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences,
Yerevan, “The Emigration of the Armenians to the United States of America:
Evidence from the Archives of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul.”
(2) George Byron Kooshian, Jr., Los Angeles Unified School District, “The
Armenian Immigrant Community of Pasadena, California from its Origins to
(3) Ben Alexander, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “Reaching Out to the Young:
The Parties, the Press, and the Second Generation in the 1930s.”

Discussant: Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill, Professor of Modern Armenian and
Immigration History, California State University, Fresno and author of Like
Our Mountains: a History of Armenians in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University
Press, forthcoming).

Panel II: Psychological Issues: Successful Adaptation and Legacy.

(1) Diana Vartan, clinical psychologist in private practice in New York
City, “Psychological Impact of Acculturation on Armenians Living in the
United States.”
(2) Margaret Manoogian, Assistant Professor of Child and Family Studies at
Ohio University College of Health and Human Services in Athens OH, “Linking
Generations: The Family Legacies of Older Armenian Mothers.”

Discussant: Aghop Der Karabetian, Professor of Social Psychology and Chair
of the Department of Psychology at the University of LaVerne in Los Angeles
and creator of the much-used Armenian Identity Index.

Panel III: Generational Changes: Assimilation and Identity.

(1) Claudia Der Martirosian, statistical consultant, San Diego, CA,
“Armenians in the U.S. Census: 1980, 1990, 2000.”
(2) Matthew Ari Jendian, Assistant Professor of Sociology at California
State University, Fresno, “To Be or Not to Be Armenian: Cultural Retention,
Assimilation, and Perspectives on Ethnic Identity among Four Generations of

Discussant: Susan Pattie, Senior Research Fellow at University College
London and author of Faith in History – Armenians Rebuilding Community,
(Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997).

Concluding Remarks: Khachig Tölölyan, Professor and Chair of the English
Department at Wesleyan University and founder and editor of award-winning
Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies.

The participants and organizers of this conference are excited at the
prospect of this unique gathering of scholars with a keen interest in the
Armenian American community. The proceedings of the conference “A Century
of Armenians in America: Voices from New Scholarship” will be published as
an edited book. The day is structured in such a way that there will be many
opportunities to meet the presenters and discussants. Each of the three
panels will have a Q & A period. Please save the date and plan to attend
and spread the word especially among the youth.