The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Western United States, in collaboration with the California State Northridge Armenian Studies Program, has organized a two-day academic conference, “Armenian Statehood Reborn: Achievements and Reflections,” to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first Republic of Armenia. The conference will take place on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 at the Plaza del Sol Hall on the campus of CSU Northridge.
During this two-day academic conference, the program will feature presentations by Dr. Amatuni Virabyan, Dr. Vartan Matiossian, and Dr. Stephan Astourian, among others.
Dr. Amatuni Virabyan is the Director of the National Archives of Armenia. He holds a Ph.D. from the Faculty of History at the State Pedagogical Institute of Vanadzor. He has published more than 50 works, including “Armenia from Stalin to Khrushchev: Socio-political Life, 1945-1957” and “The Republic of Armenia in 1918-1920: A Collection of Documents and Materials.” He has served on the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Advisory Council since 2004 and on the Matenadaran Research Institute Advisory Council since 2007.
During the conference, Dr. Virabyan will present on the socio-economic situation during the first Republic of Armenia. The first Republic was founded and existed in the midst of great socio-economic hardship, which were mainly a result of World War I, Turkish invasions in Armenia, and the influx of refugees and orphans from the Armenian Genocide. There was a dearth of industry and agriculture, which led to widespread famine and the emergence of infectious diseases. Around 180,000 people lost their lives to starvation and the Armenian government instituted a state monopoly on bread in order to control the famine. The government made attempts at restoring the economy and implementing land reform, but the Turkish-Armenian War and the beginning of the Sovietization of the country in 1920 stymied those efforts.
Dr. Vartan Matiossian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Education Committee in New York. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences in the Republic of Armenia. Matiossian has publishes scores of articles, translations, book reviews, and essays, mostly in Armenian, Spanish, and English. He has authored six books (five in Armenian and one in Spanish), including a biography of writer Gostan Zarian in 1998.
During the conference, Dr. Matiossian will present a lecture titled “From the Mountain to the Lake: The Ships of the Republic and Gostan Zarian.” The armed forces in the first Republic of Armenia included the so-called Sevan fleet, which included one armed sailing ship, called “Ashot Yerkat,” but also a prospective warship, called the “Geghanush,” which had been abandoned by the Russian army in Nakhichevan after the October Revolution. The transportation of the latter to Lake Sevan became the metaphorical subject in Gostan Zarian’s The Ship on the Mountain (1943), one of the few novels devoted to the history of the Republic.
Dr. Stephan Astourian is the William Saroyan Director of the Armenian Studies Program at UC Berkeley and an Associate Adjunct Professor in its Department of History. He is serving on the boards of various centers and research institutes, including the Executive Council of the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at UC Berkeley. His research and publication focus is on modern Armenian, Ottoman, and Azerbaijani history and post-Soviet Caucasian politics.
Professor Astourian will present a lecture titled, “Reflections on the Origins, Development, and Aftermath of the First Armenian Republic.” There are a few implied or clearly expressed characteristics that are shared among the various strands of Armenian historiography and political thought. Professor Astourian will focus on a few of these characteristics in relation to the first Armenian Republic and what can be learned of it. Namely, some of these characteristics are the long-lasting yearning and strive of the Armenian people for independence, the endless “treasonous” behaviors of foreign powers, and an inability to analyze Armenian mistakes and take responsibility for them.
The event will be free and open to the public. The conference is generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Cheryl Nadjarian. Further information about the program and speakers will be presented in the coming months. Please check the conference website the1strepublic.org for information and updates.