Haigazian University

International Conference on “Armenians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia” at Haigazian University, May 29-30, 2018

Jun, 11
International Conference on “Armenians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia” at Haigazian University, May 29-30, 2018

Unlike the previous conferences, the conference on “Armenians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia” was held in two stages. The first stage was held in Cairo on April 12 & 13 in collaboration with the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Egypt where ten panelists from Egypt, Lebanon and the Republic of Armenia participated in three sessions. The second stage was held at Haigazian University on May 29 and 30, where panelists coming from the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, France, Egypt and the Republic of Armenia, presented papers. Out of the seven sessions one was devoted to the Armenians of Sudan and another to the Armenians of Ethiopia.

Organized by the Armenian Diaspora Research Center (ADRC) at Haigazian University, this conference was the fifth of a series of annual conferences, which focused on Armenians of Lebanon (2014), Armenians of Syria (2015), Armenians of Jordan (2016), Armenians of Iraq (2017). All but the first conference were supported by the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

On Tuesday, May 29, the official opening took place in the presence of the prelate of Lebanon, Bishop Shahe Panossian, Rev. Nishan Bakalian representing the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, President of Haigazian University, community leaders from Egypt and Lebanon, Armenian intellectuals, historians, and academicians. The ceremony began with the opening words of Dr. Antranik Dakessian, Director of the ADRC. Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian’s words were followed by the introduction of the guest speaker, Dr. Ruben Adalian (Director of the Armenian National Institute, Washington DC). Dr. Adalian’s lecture was titled “By the Nile and the sea, the currents and tides of modernity and the role of the Armenian Diaspora of Northeast Africa”.

The conference, with its seven sessions extended over two days and covered twenty four topics,[1] presented by twenty-two scholars.

Panelists were: Vahe Sarksian, “Relations between the Armenian Plateau and Egypt during the 1st and 2nd Millennia BC”; Prof. Claude Mutafian, “The White Monastery in Egypt and its Armenian inscriptions”; Ann Grönhammar, “Envoy of the Khedive to the Swedish Royal Court: Ohan Demirgian, 1866-1872”; Dr. Vartan Devrikian, “The Egyptian Armenian Prelacy through the ages”; Armin Kredian, “Reading censuses: The 1906 census of the Armenians in Cairo and the 1911 census of Armenians in Alexandria”; Dr. Vahram Shemmassian, “The Establishment of the Armenian refugee camp of Port Said in 1915”; Dr. Hilmar Kaiser, “Cairo as the pivotal location for the turning point in the scholarly life of Krieger”; Dr. Jon Armajani, “Egypt’s constitutions and minority rights”; Haig Avakian[2], “Vahan Tekeyan’s articles in Arev daily: An opportunity or a resistance?”, Dr. Kevork Yazedjian, “The Armenian Community of Egypt in the Secret Documents of the Soviet Union”; Dr. Verjine Svazlian[3], “The Contribution of Repatriated Egyptian Armenians to the Fatherland”, Kohar Avakian, “The Egyptian Armenian documents in the Armenian National Archives and the archival documents of the Armenian Prelacy of Egypt”, Vahram Hovian, “Contemporary Egyptian-Armenian media”, Limi Cholakian-Khounganian, “The Armenian Evangelical community of Egypt”, Thomas Zakarian, “Independent youth magazine-forums: the October of Cairo (1975-80) and the Yeridasart Hay of Beirut (1969-75)”, Dr. Sossie Kasbarian, “Quiet cosmopolitans – the contemporary Armenian community in Egypt”, Aspe Djizmedjian, “The matter of identity within the Egyptian-Armenian community, Dr. Maroush Yeramian, “Teaching Western Armenian in Egyptian-Armenian schools today” (in response, HU faculty Mrs. Shaghig Khudaverdian commented on the Lebanese Armenian schools’ experiences), Ayk Zakarian, “The Armenian university students of Egypt: An overview,” Dr. Nayiri Hampigian, “What is to become of the ‘Diaspora Armenian architecture’? Development of a pan-Armenian project: the case of the Mar Mina historic cemetery in Cairo-Egypt”, Dr. Jon Armajani, “The constitutions of North Sudan and Ethiopia, and minority rights”, Anna Avakian, “Armenians of Sudan”, Dr. Ardag Maghalian, “Armenian travelers on Ethiopia and Ethiopian-Armenian relations”; Dr. Boris Adjemian, “Memories of migrations and the making of an Armenian homeland in twentieth century Ethiopia” and “The brass band of the king: Perceptions of foreigners and utilization of Armenians in Ethiopia’s foreign policy (20th c.)”; Rubina Kingwell, “An introduction to the life and work of Bedros A. Sevadjian”.

Presentations and sessions were moderated by Drs. Arda Ekmekji, Nanor Karageozian, Archalouyse Topalian, Armen Urneshlian, Antranik Dakessian, and Shaghig Khudaverdian and Yeghia Tashjian.

An evening lecture was held on Tuesday. Vartkes Nalbandian, a veteran of the Ethiopian Armenian community lectured on “The Ethiopian Armenian community: Its past and present”.

At the end of one of the sessions a number of books pertaining to Armenian Diaspora studies, published between 2015 and 2017 were exhibited. The authors/co-editors/compilers of some of these books presented the books, which included Muhammad Atalla’s The Armenians of Maan (1915-2016); Kevork Misirlian’s The Armenians of Irbid and North Jordan; Dr. Jamal Kamal’s The Armenian artisans of modern Egypt; Dr. Sarkis Bourounsouzian’s The Armenians of Damascus (all in Arabic); Dr. Kevork Yazedjian’s The Diaspora Armenian communities and political currents in Soviet secret documents (1945-1991); Kohar Avakian’s The Lebanese Armenian community (1915-1990) in the archival documents; Dr. Antranik Dakessian’s Parsegh Ganachian (1885-1967): Musicalizing a life; Dr. Suren Bayramian’s Armenian Community structures in Egypt; Dr. Seta Ohanian’s The Armenian community of Iraq in the 20th century, (all five in Armenian); Dr. Sossie Kasbarian’s (co-editor) Diasporas of the modern Middle East (contextualizing community); Esq. Rupen Avsharian’s On the record. Armenian Deputies in the Lebanese parliament (two volumes: 1922-1972 & 1972-2017); Drs Christine Babikian-Carla Edde-Vahe Tachjian-Levon Nordikian’s (co-editors) Les Arméniens du Liban. Cent ans de présence; Dr. Claude Mutafian’s La saga des Arméniens de l’Ararat aux Carpats. Furthermore, R.B. Sevadjian presented the two volumes of her trilogy on the Armenian genocide, In the Shadow of the Sultan & The Darker Shadow.

The Haigazian University Armenian Diaspora Research Center has scheduled its next conference on “Armenians of Greece and Cyprus” for May 2019.

It is worth mentioning that two volumes of the proceedings of the conferences on Armenians of Lebanon and Syria have been published.

[1] Two panelists from Egypt could not attend and present their papers.

[2] Due to reasons beyond his control Mr. Avakian could not attend the conference. His paper was read by Dr. Yeramian.

[3] Due to old age, Dr. Sevazlian could not attend the conference. Her paper was read by Dr. Yazedjian.