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French Version


Haigazian University's 50th Anniversary Multidisciplinary Conference on "the Armenians of Lebanon: Their Past and Present"

Two months after the festive celebratory events of June 2005 marking the 50th anniversary of Haigazian University, the break was reactivated with an academic, multidisciplinary conference, where 16 scholars from more than 10 countries gathered in the auditorium of Haigazian University to engage in a day program of discussions and deliberations.
This long planned conference, held under the auspices of the Minister of Culture, Dr. Tarek Mitri, and partially funded by the George Ignatius Foundation, Los Angeles, unfolded on Monday, the 12th of September, 2005 with a lecture delivered by Dr. Aida Boudjikanian from Montreal, Canada.

The capacity audience included the representative of the Minister of Culture Dr. Fawzi Atweh, the US Deputy Ambassador to Lebanon Christopher Murray, the US Public Affairs Officer Juliet Wurr, Minister Jean Oghassabian, Members of Parliament Hagop Pakradouni and Yeghia Jerejian, and the representative of the Mayor of Beirut.

In his word of welcome, President Haidostian noted that "despite the undisputedly important role that the Armenian community plays both within Lebanon and the rest of the Diaspora, its history, culture, and other aspects of its community life have not been studied adequately to date according to internationally accepted scientific standards". As to Haigazian's role in the Lebanese Academic life, Haidostian considered, "it is our conviction that the role Haigazian University can play in research, critical study, and free exchange of ideas is a fresh contribution to Lebanese academic life in general and a valuable asset for the Armenians in Lebanon and abroad."

The inaugural speech of Dr. Boudjikanian was entitled "The Armenians and Lebanon: Changing Perceptions and Functions (14th-20th cc.)" Among the different perceptions of the Armenians, Lebanon represents an open and diversified culture, summarized in Pope John Paul II's statement "Lebanon is more than a country; it is a living message to the world". In addition, Beirut is the land of refuge after the genocide of 1914, and moreover it's the capital of the Armenian Diaspora during the years between 1955 and 1975".

During the next 3 days of the conference, the 16 experts coming from Canada, the USA, France, Argentina, Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Germany, Italy and Lebanon thoroughly covered numerous facets of the Armenian life and history in Lebanon. Topics varied from the political history of the community within both the Lebanese and pan-Armenian contexts, social and economic history, aspects of the influx and exodus of Armenians to and from Lebanon, identity, literature, music to the Armenian cause.

Dr. Claude Mutafian, from Université de Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, lectured on the
Armenian Princesses at the Head of Crusader States (13th-14th cc.).
Dr. Hilmar Kaiser, from Solingen, Germany tackled the issue of the Armenians and Lebanon during the Genocide of the First World War.

Dr. Vahé Tachjian, from the Centre D?histoire Arménienne Contemporaine, Bibliothèque Nubar, Paris, talked about the Project and Realization of the Final Settlement of Armenian Refugees in Lebanon (end of 1920s-1930s).
Dr. Ara Sanjian, of Haigazian University, Beirut covered the topic of Formulating Strategies of Irredentism at the Crossroads of Nationalism, Communism and Diverging Interpretations of the Soviet Experience: The Armenian-Language Press of Beirut on the Quest for the "Internal Lands" in Soviet Transcaucasia, 1954-1985.

Dr. Shoghig Ashekian, of Yerevan State University, discussed the issue of the Armenian Community of Lebanon and the Armenian Cause, 1965-1975.

Dr. Aida Boudjikanian, from Montreal, Canada talked about Self-Employment amongst the Armenians of Lebanon: From a Community Tradition to a Concept of Diaspora Theories.

Dr. Ohannes Geukjian, of Haigazian University and the Lebanese American University covered the topic of the Policy of Positive Neutrality of the Armenian Political Parties in Lebanon during the Civil War of 1975-1990s

Dr. Khatchik Der Ghoukassian, of Universidad de San Andrés, Buenos Aires discussed,
Lebanon in My Mind: The Civil War and the Centrality of the Lebanese Armenian Community in the Making of Armenian Diaspora Nationalism.

Mr. Roupen Avsharian, of the American Military University presented an exhaustive study of the Ta'ef Accord and the Armenians of Lebanon.

Mr. Armen Urneshlian, of Haigazian University talked about the Arab Characters in Lebanese-Armenian Literature.

Dr. Nora Salmanian, from Beirut, Lebanon, covered the topic of the Contribution of Armenians in the Musical Life of Lebanon from 1920 to the Present.

Mrs. Roubina Artinian of Haigazian University, discussed the Armenian Choirs in Lebanon, 1930-1980: A Bridge between the Past and the Present.

Dr. Verjine Svazlian, of the National Academy of Sciences, Armenia, tackled the issue of the Social-Cultural Diachronic and Synchronic Development of Lebanese-Armenian Repatriates in the Motherland.

Mr. Asbed Kotchikian, of Hobart and William Smith Colleges discussed the issue of Between (Home)land and (Host)land: Lebanese-Armenians and the Republic of Armenia.

Mrs. Araxy Deronian-Khatcherian, of the Library of Congress, Cairo Office, covered the Armenians of Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa in the Library of Congress.

Dr. Nicola Migliorino, of the University of Exeter, England talked about the Lebanese
System and Armenian Cultural Diversity between Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Opportunities and Limits.

The conference ended with discussion and recommendations.
Parallel to the conference, public lectures were held during three consecutive evenings, on related topics, by Dr. Vahe Tashjian. Dr. Khatchig Der Ghoukassian and Dr. Nicola Migliorino.
In conclusion, by organizing this groundbreaking, multidisciplinary academic conference, the Department of Armenian Studies has contributed its share to the 50th anniversary celebrations of Haigazian University. The organizing committee hopes that the papers submitted to this conference will become an important first step in raising awareness and future interest in studying the different facets of the Armenians in Lebanon. It is planned that the conference will lead to the eventual publication of a respectable volume of collected studies on the subject.

Public Relations Director

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This conference was partially funded by a special grant from the George Ignatius Foundation, Los Angeles.

Bierut 12-10-2005
Mira Yardemian
Haigazian University



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