Columbia Symposium on Monuments and Memory: Material Culture and the

The Armenian Center at Columbia University
Media Contact: Taleen Babayan
Ph: (201) 693-3453
Email: [email protected]

Symposium on `Monuments and Memory: Material Culture and the Aftermaths of
Histories of Mass Violence,’ with a Focus on the Ruins of the Armenian City
of Ani, to be Held at Columbia University, February 20, 2015.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a
groundbreaking symposium will be held at Columbia and sponsored by the
Armenian Center of Columbia University, Columbia’s Institute for the Study
of Human Rights and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
Peter Balakian, Donald M. Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities at
Colgate University, and Rachel Goshgarian, Assistant Professor of History
at Lafayette College, are organizers and hosts of the event.

The symposium will be groundbreaking in its comparative analysis of Jewish
monuments in eastern Europe, Muslim monuments in the Balkans, and Armenian
Christian monuments in Turkey. Issues of preservation, social justice, and
restitution will be discussed.

`The goal of this conference is to place the lamentable situation of
Armenian monuments in Turkey into larger contexts,’ said Dr. Rachel
Goshgarian, Assistant Professor of History at Lafayette College. `After
visiting so many Armenian constructions in Turkey — in various states of
repair or disrepair — over the course of the past ten years, one question
consistently came to my mind: what happens to monuments when they kind of
lose their monumentality? This question is worthwhile in many contexts, but
in the framework of modern Turkey, offers us the opportunity to consider
the differences between the ways in which people living with Armenian
monuments might differ from overarching governmental actions or concerns.’

`The aftermath of human rights violence is always long and complex and the
fate of material culture and especially major and sacred monuments such as
churches, synagogues and mosques raise complex issues about restitution,
identity, and social justice,’ said Balakian. `Our symposium will bring
together some major scholars from around the world to discuss these issues
and others.’

The symposium will take place in Room 1501 of Columbia University’s
Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, located at 420 West
118th Street, from 10 am until 6 pm with breaks for lunch and coffee. A
reception will follow. This event is free and open to the public.