Joint ARPA Institute & UCLA Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Studies
“The 1862 Zeytun Rebellion and the Armenian Press”
“Transforming Identity or the case of Musa Dagh after 1915”
“The Azgagrakan Movement: An Embodied form of Armenian Nationalism”
Saturday, February 16, 2019 @ 2:00PM
In the Aram and Anahis D. Boolghoorjian Hall of the Merdinian School:
13330 Riverside Dr., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Direction: Exit Woodman on 101 FWY; go North 1 block, turn Right on Riverside Dr.
Many historians of the development of Armenian nationalism in the nineteenth century cite the Zeytun rebellion of 1862 as a major milestone, with some even using it to mark the beginning of the Armenian revolutionary movement. However, the Armenian, Turkish, and English secondary literature rarely engages primary source material to try to parse out why this event in particular found such resonance among Armenian communities both inside and outside the Ottoman Empire. This paper uses articles from more than a dozen Armenian periodicals in circulation in the Ottoman and Russian empires in 1862 and the following years to help fill this lacuna. These journals–all of which were published in either Istanbul, Izmir, Tiflis, Moscow or St. Petersburg–provide valuable insight into how Armenians living across empires consumed the news coming out of Zeytun and nearby Marash, as well as examples of how the contemporary Armenian intelligentsia and even members of the reading public responded to the developments. Taken together, these articles create space for a challenge to the narrative that the rebels in Zeytun had a broad emancipatory–or even revolutionary–vision when they armed themselves in self-defense against the governor of Marash and his irregular army, revealing that their motives were more local in scope. Thus, this paper argues that the way contemporary intellectuals and journalists have interpreted the battle plays a heretofore under-appreciated role in its mythologization.
Aram Ghoogasian is a graduate student in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in English and History from UCLA in 2016, he taught at the AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena. His thesis project is a study of the 1862 Zeytun rebellion and its coverage in Armenophone newspapers in the Ottoman and Russian Empires. He is currently a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow.
During the Armenian Genocide, Armenian villages in the sanjak of Iskenderun (Alexandretta) were not exempt from exile. Armenian villagers climbed Musa Dagh, resisted the Turkish regular troops and, with the help of French ships, were able to move to Port Said in Egypt. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the sanjak of Iskenderun was surrendered to the French, who returned the Armenians who had been sheltered in Port Said. In 1938, before World War II, France gave the sanjak of Iskenderun to the Republic of Turkey and helped the Armenians living there move to Lebanon and establish the village of Ainjar, also known as the village of Musaler-Haush Musa. Only about twenty years after the foundation of the village, this group of Armenians began to reassess the heroic episode in their past. After the self-defense battles of August-September of 1915, inhabitants of the Armenian villages of Samandagh-Suetia had to present their story to members of the broader society. A number of authors from Musa Dagh began to relay their own interpretation of the battles of Musa Dagh, since at that time the novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel, had not yet been published. In this paper, I will try to present the symbolic phenomena in those publications, which has become part of the collective identity and memory of people from Musa Dagh today.
Khoren Grigoryan is a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Yerevan. His dissertation is entitled “The Identity of Musa Dagh Inhabitants in Ainjar.” His research interests include diaspora studies, identity studies, and cultural perceptions of Syrian refugees in Armenia. His latest article is entitled “The Formation of the Ethnonym ‘Musalertsi’ and its Transformation,” which was published in Haigazian Armenological Review in 2018. He has also participated in numerous international conferences in the United States, Russia, Lebanon and Poland.
Folklore revival movements have played an immense role in the shaping of ethnic and national identities throughout the 20th century. In the case of Soviet Armenia, the azgagrakan folk ensembles that emerged in the 1970s proliferated a nationally conscious Armenian performative culture informed by the oral traditions of the Armenian people in opposition to the aesthetic ideals institutionalized by the Soviet state. By observing the concept and significance of folklore and revival within discourses of nationalism, dance ethnology and ethnomusicology, I examine the ways in which Armenian azgagrakan ensembles signify an ethno-national consciousness sonically through music and bodily through dance. Supplemented with audio-visual samples amassed from fieldwork in Armenia, this presentation will discuss key features in the contemporary life of what I term the “azgagrakan movement,” a collective network of decentralized agents active in the practice, spread and development of socio-participatory performances and concerts of azgagrakan music and dance. Contextualizing this movement within the histories of genocide, Sovietization, Armenia’s independence and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, this research conceptualizes the azgagrakan movement as a socio-aesthetic phenomenon that mobilizes, through its expressive capacities, sentiments of a de-colonial and irredentist cultural nationalism.
Armen Adamian is a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. After graduating with a BA in Psychology and Music Composition from Humboldt State University, Armen pursued graduate studies at UCLA where he has recently received a MA in Ethnomusicology. Interested in examining the socio-political aspects of performative aesthetic cultures, he conducts research in the domains of Armenian music and dance. Alongside his academic studies, Armen practices duduk locally in Los Angeles where he has established an ensemble devoted to the performance of Armenian folk musics.
Disclaimer: The Merdinian School is not the sponsor of this event and any opinions expressed during the event are not those of the School.