INNOVATE ARMENIA – Where Heritage Meets Innovation

Performers during last years INNOVATE ARMENIA event.
Performers during last years INNOVATE ARMENIA event.

Performers during last years INNOVATE ARMENIA event.

LOS ANGELES–INNOVATE ARMENIA – where Heritage meets Innovation – will be held on the USC main campus, on Saturday, April 2, from 10 am to 6 pm. INNOVATE ARMENIA is a signature program of the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies.

“INNOVATE ARMENIA is a great convener – it brings together those who know and those who care, to drive a new kind of conversation about the Armenian world,” explained Salpi Ghazarian, director of the Institute of Armenian Studies.

The INNOVATE ARMENIA focus this year is two-fold: IDENTITY and DIGITAL HUMANITIES.  The theme of 21st century identity will be covered with fast-paced talks by nearly two dozen scholars and practitioners who will discuss global hybrid identities, post-genocide identity issues for Armenians and Turks, and the Armenian identity past and future. These will take place in the USC Bovard Auditorium beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Outdoors, adjacent to the music stage, there will be 20 individuals or organizations from around the world who have taken the arts, literature and culture into the digital sphere, displaying their work.  “We are calling them Digital Humanists.  These are individuals who use technology to promote and share Armenian language, literature, art, cultural heritage digitally via various new and innovative platforms,” Ghazarian said.  They will each present their work and interact with the public all day. In addition, each will present a short TED-style talk in USC’s Taper Auditorium, throughout the day, to discuss their vision and the platforms they have created for public use.

“Armenians, more than other cultures or nations, recognize the impact of cultural destruction because they lost their libraries and their schools in 1915, and were scattered everywhere. Digitization is a miraculous way to get this culture back and to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere,” said Mikael Nichanian, a historian at France’s National Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale. Nichanian, who recently published Detruire les Armeniens, Histoire d’un Genocide, was among the first to embark on digitization of Armenian texts at

“We believe the Institute has a huge role to play in making scholarship available and accessible so that educators, leaders, policymakers – in the communities or in the Republic of Armenia – benefit from the research and analysis of the academic community,” Ghazarian said. “In 2015, INNOVATE ARMENIA was launched featuring innovative organizations from Armenia.  And that large-scale introduction of diaspora to Armenia had impact on both. We expect the same will happen this year with the Digital Humanists and the technology and humanities experts in the community.”

The nearly 2,000 people who attended INNOVATE ARMENIA in 2015 also enjoyed a full day’s concert on the outdoor music stage.  This year, too, several new artists, rarely heard in the US, will perform throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And alongside these stages, a unique photo exhibition entitled SUM OF US will feature photographers from Yerevan, New York, and Los Angeles, each of whom has captured a slice of Armenian identity.

Admission is free and parking is easily available on campus. Innovative fusion food will be part of the all-day event.

For questions and information, write to or call 213.821.3943.

Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies supports multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience – from post-Genocide to the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving Diaspora. The Institute encourages research, publications and public service, and promotes links among the global academic and Armenian communities.


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