U. Michigan Workshop Continues Assessment of State of Armenian Studi

Armenian Studies Program
University of Michigan
Contact:Ingrid Peterson
Phone: 734-763-0622
E-mail: [email protected]

University of Michigan Workshop Continues Assessment of the State of
Armenian Studies

ANN ARBOR, MICH., Dec. 22, 2011- Leading experts in Armenian Studies
from around the world recently gathered at the University of Michigan
to assess the current state of Armenian Studies in academic
institutions in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. The
cross-disciplinary meeting took place from October 14 – 16, 2011, as
part of the ongoing project to assess “The State of Armenian Studies.”
The gathering was organized by the Armenian Studies Program of the
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and convened parallel to events
marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first endowed
chair in Armenian studies at the University in 1981 and of the Program

The special project has been able to gather a huge amount of
information on Armenian studies and had made that information
available to the participants for their analysis and comments.

Ambitious in its scope, the three-day meeting sought to have the input
of these scholars to survey a wide array of programs, activities and
publications in Armenian studies over the last 30 years throughout the
world, not including Armenia. The research team at the University had
prepared lists of books published in French, German, Farsi, English,
Spanish, Turkish, Italian, and Russian; the gathering made an general
assessment of publishing interests and trends and laid the groundwork
to complete even more extensive surveys of works published in
Armenian, Polish and other languages. The meeting sought to bring to
light all of the undergraduate and graduate courses that have been
offered in Armenian Studies over the last decade in order to better
grasp how the next generation of scholars is being trained, and to
make recommendations regarding what kinds of courses need to be
offered in the future. The continuing relationships between Armenian
studies as it stands in the university system and other institutions
outside of that system – such as research centers, and archival and
cultural organizations – were also surveyed and discussed. Additional
reports were prepared separately to address the state of the field
regionally, such a in the US, in Europe and in the Middle East.

The goal of the meeting was to gain a more complete understanding of
recent advances in scholarship relevant to the field as well as to
survey avenues for future research, to discuss the relationship
between Armenian Studies programs and the general public, to
brainstorm how to attract both established professors already in the
university as well as new students, and to ensure that scholars in
Armenian Studies continue to produce work that is cutting-edge in
terms of recent methodological and theoretical developments within
greater academia.

The director of ASP, Gerard Libaridian, has been at the helm of the
State of Armenian Studies Project for the last four years, and the
recent gathering of scholars to discuss the findings of the project
represents a milestone – but by no means an endpoint – in the ongoing
project. Most recently, scholars were invited to respond to a series
of questions about various dimensions of Armenian Studies. All
respondents to the questionnaire were invited to continue the
discussion at U-M in Ann Arbor. The participants included many seminal
and active figures in the field, such as Robert Thompson, Ara Sanjian,
Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Peter Cowe, Susan Pattie, Sergio La Porta,
Robert Hewsen, Khachig Tololyan, Asbed Kotchikian, and Marc
Mamigonian, as well as the faculty of ASP at U-M: Kathryn Babayan,
Kevork Bardakjian, Ronald Suny, and Gerard Libaridian. Post-doctoral
fellows and graduate students associated with ASP at U-M also
participated in the discussion. Many others from around the world had
participated in the preparation of the charts, lists, and special

Generally, organizations that are dedicated to one academic discipline
will assess overall trends in scholarship and make recommendations for
future research and pedagogical practices every five to ten years. The
problem, however, is that Armenian Studies is not a discipline – that
is, a specific methodological approach to train a certain type of
scholar, such as a historian, literary critic, anthropologist,
sociologist, or political scientist – but rather a field related to
every aspect of Armenian life past, present, and future. This is not a
weakness of Armenian Studies, but is generally believed to be a
strength of the field, as it is informed and shaped by many different
kinds of scholars working together across multiple disciplines to
create new bodies of knowledge. The flourishing of Armenian studies
programs, however, has merited a report on par with what other
disciplines produce every five to ten years. To this end, the meeting
concluded with preliminary plans to publish a report on the state of
Armenian Studies which could be put to good use by scholars around the
world, as well as serve to inform the general public of what topics
are of utmost importance today in Armenian Studies, how to continue to
grow the field, what still needs to be done, and why it matters within
and beyond academia.

The project is co-sponsored by the National Association for Armenian
Studies and Research, based in Belmont, Mass., and the Society for
Armenian Studies, currently chaired by Professor Bardakjian.

Armenian Studies Program
The University of Michigan’s Armenian Studies Program promotes the
study of Armenian history, culture, and society. A member of the
University of Michigan International Institute, the program organizes
educational opportunities for students, faculty and the community. For
more information, contact the Armenian Studies Program at (734)
763-0622 or visit

University of Michigan International Institute
The University of Michigan International Institute houses 18 centers
and programs focused on world regions and global themes. The institute
develops and supports international teaching, research, and public
affairs programs to promote global understanding across the campus and
to build connections with intellectuals and institutions worldwide.
For more information, visit

From: A. Papazian


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