University of Nebraska-Lincoln to Host International Conference Marking Genocide Centennial

University of Nebraska-Lincoln will host a major international conference to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide


LINCOLN, Neb.—On the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) will host a two-day conference from March 19-20, 2015 entitled “Crossing the Centennial: The Historiography of the Armenian Genocide Re-Evaluated” at the Wick Alumni Center – Great Hall, 1520 R Street.

Organized by Prof. Bedross Der Matossian from the Department of History at UNL, the conference is sponsored by the Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic Studies, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) in Belmont, Mass., the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS), the Department of History, the Faculty Senate Convocation Committee, the Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies program, and the Institute of Ethnic Studies at UNL.

The conference will focus on four under-researched themes that have recently gained scholarly attention and analytical depth: a) humanitarianism and humanitarian intervention in the Armenian Genocide; b) women and children in the Armenian Genocide; c) comparative dimensions of the Armenian Genocide; d) and the impact of the Armenian Genocide on society, politics, literature, and culture. Twenty-two scholars from Armenia, Cambodia, Canada, Holland, Hungary, Israel, and the United States representing 17 different academic institutions will participate in five panels of the conference.

The conference will start at 2:00pm on Thursday, March 19, with welcoming remarks by Prof. William G. Thomas III, the chair of the Department of History at UNL, and opening remarks by Prof. Bedross Der Matossian from the Department of History.

The first panel, entitled “Humanitarianism and Humanitarian Intervention” will be moderated by Prof. David Forsythe (UNL), who is widely regarded as being among the first scholars who have established the study of human rights and humanitarian affairs in the disciplines of political science and international relations. The panel will feature the following speakers and topics: Dr. Hilmar Kaiser (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), “Humanitarian Intervention and Ottoman Opposition to Extermination: A Neglected Aspect”; Péter Pál Kránitz (Pázmány Péter Catholic University), “Armenian Refugees, Humanitarian Assistance and Hungary”; and Prof. Mark Toufayan (University of Ottawa), “Between Intimacy and Alienation: Armenian Property, Denationalization and the Passions of ‘Protection’ in French Mandated Cilicia, 1918-1923”.

The second panel, which will be the featured one of the Conference, will be moderated by Prof. Jean Cahan, the director of the Harris Center for Judaic Studies and will include three speakers: Prof. Richard G. Hovannisian (University of California-Los Angeles), “The Centenary of the Armenian Genocide: What Have We Learned?”; Prof. Michelle Tusan (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), “Humanitarian Empire: Britain’s Response to the Armenian Genocide,”; and Prof. Keith Watenpaugh (University of California-Davis), “Armenia, Armenians, The League of Nations and Modern Humanitarianism.”

The second day of the conference will start at 9:00am and will feature four panels. The first panel entitled “Women and Children during the Genocide” will be chaired by Prof. Patrice McMahon, an expert on international security, conflict, and human rights, and will feature the following speakers and subjects: Prof. Benny Morris (Ben-Gurion University), “Women and Children in the Turkish Ethnic Cleansing of Armenians and Greeks, 1919-1923”; Prof. Carina Karapetian Giorgi (Pomona College), “Critical Examination of the Historiography of Women during the Armenian Genocide”; Anna Aleksanyan (Clark University), “‘Neutral home’ and the Issue of Identity of the Surviving Armenian Women and Children”; and Tuğçe Kayaal (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor), “A Critique of the Concept of the “Genocide Survivor”: Armenian Orphans in Aleppo Between the Years of 1915-1918.”

The second panel entitled “The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust” will be chaired by Prof. Ari Kohen, the director of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Program at UNL and will feature the following speakers and subjects: Ümit Kurt (Clark University), “‘Legal’ and ‘Official’ Plundering of Armenian and Jewish Properties during the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust within a Comparative Perspective”; Prof. Stefan Ihrig (Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem), “From the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust – A Connected Perspective”; and Prof. Harutyun Marutyan (National Academy of Sciences of Armenia), “The Institute of Righteous Among the Nations in the Armenian and the Jewish Cases.”

The last panel of the conference entitled “Aftermath of the Genocide: Politics, Culture, Society, and Literature,” will be chaired by Prof. Chantal Kalisa, an expert on the Rwandan Genocide and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at UNL, and will feature the following speakers and subjects: Prof. Tsolin Nalbantian (Leiden University), “Armenian Nation Building through Sport: The Armenian Olympiad Before and After the Armenian Genocide”; Prof. Heghnar Watenpaugh (University of California-Davis), “Art, Heritage, and the Armenian Genocide: Toros Roslin’s Zeytun Gospels between 1915 and 2015”; Prof. Talar Chahinian (California State University-Long Beach), “Impossible Testimonies: Literature and Aesthetics in the Aftermath of the Armenian Genocide”; and Dr. Seyhan Bayraktar (Historical Seminar of the University of Zurich), “The Armenian Genocide and the Politics of Denial: on Turkey, Civil Society, and EU Recognition Politics.”

Closing remarks will be delivered by Prof. Lloyd Ambrosius from the Department of History. “It is a great honor for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to hold the largest conference in the Midwest to mark the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide,” said conference organizer Prof. Der Matossian. “It is not only that we are bringing scholars from various disciplines to discuss different aspects of the Armenian Genocide but that we also should think of this Conference as a unique opportunity for the University community at large to benefit from the expertise of top scholars in the field and understand better one of the first genocides of the modern period.”

The poster of the conference was prepared by Ruben Malayan, a renowned artist from Armenia. The poster displays Malayan’s expression of the experiences of the Armenian nation (represented by women and children) on the death marches of the Genocide. The white auras around their heads symbolize the sanctity of the victims. The stark contrast of black and white background represents the inhuman suffering people had to endure before perishing. The work was inspired by a real photograph of an Armenian family taken during expulsion and extermination of 1915.

The event is open to the public. For further information, please contact Prof. Der Matossian at bdermatossian2@unl.edu or (402) 472-2417.

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