Khatchik DerGhougassian’s New Book Presentation Tackles Middle East Crisis

Dr. Khatchik DerGhougassian
Dr. Khatchik DerGhougassian

Dr. Khatchik DerGhougassian

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Agencia Prensa Armenia)—This past August, the Argentinean publisher Paidos released Khatchik DerGhougassian’s book about the conflict in the Middle East in its collection of “Everything You Need to Know About” series.

The book, which is in Spanish is entitled, as others in the same collection, “Everything You Need to Know about the Conflict in the Middle East,” and analyzes the political processes in the region since the 19th century.

The Argentine press, including the weekly cultural supplement of Clarin and The Observatory supplement of Perfil, praised the book in reviews as a must-read book to understand the current dynamics and published extended excerpts in their publications.

DerGhougassian kicked off his book tour in October at the National (public) University of Lanus. On November 14, the book was presented and discussed at public event organized by the Armenian Cultural Association and the Armenian National Committee of South America.

The three panelists who joined DerGhougassian for the presentation were Pablo Kendikian, founder and current head of Prensa Armenia agency, Santiago Farrell a well-known journalist and international analyst of Perfil and Khodor Khalid the editor of the online publication Diario Sirio-Libanes.

From left, Santiago Farrell, Khatchik DerGhougassian, Pablo Kendikian and Khodor Khalid

From left, Santiago Farrell, Khatchik DerGhougassian,
Pablo Kendikian and Khodor Khalid

In his opening words, Kendikian said that the Middle East has become one of the most complicated regions for reporters and citing Bill Kovach who defined journalism as “the first version of History” he underlined the value of the book that consisted in putting the abundant information about the events in a contextualized analysis.

“It is not only a book about the Middle East,” said Khodor Khalid. “It is a conceptual tool to analyze the conflicts in the region combining the diplomatic history approach with the crisis of the state.” The added value of the book is that it is accessible to any reader who either wants to have a general knowledge about the Middle East or the one who knowing the topic looks for additional knowledge.

For Santiago Farrell the main message of the book is the possibility of the Middle East ends up in a sort of “inclusive diversities.” “No one can deny these [ethnic, religious, sectarian etc.] diversities and go against them because they are fundamental. What is needed to be found are ways of coexistence,” he continued mentioning that despite deep political polarization the Argentine society could be an example of inclusion of diversities

After thanking the organizers, panelists and the public, DerGhougassian said that it was the tragic circumstances of the terrorist attacks against the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the Jewish mutual AMIA in 1994 in Buenos Aires that sparked his interest in the Middle East in Argentina where not only the region was little known but also expertise about it was lacking despite the fact that Syrian-Lebanese and Jewish descendants were respectively the third and fourth most important communities in the country.

“Being born and raised in Lebanon made me a source of reference for commentators and journalists long before I started writing academic papers and Op-Ed columns in the press or giving TV and Radio interviews especially after 9-11,” said DerGhougassian.

However, he warned that the fact of being from the region is not necessarily an insurance to have a better knowledge in the cause-effect relationship of the dynamics of the conflict; less does it guarantee an ability to explain it to a wide audience.

A strong theoretical perspective and a critical attitude are the conditions to overcome the subjectivity trap, he said. Thus, the book is the result of years of studying the region, writing about it and teaching it as a topic at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The book combines the theoretical perspective of the crisis of the State with the political sociology to study the struggle of power in the Middle East from what the author calls “the clash of two nationalisms” to the current “Intra-Islamic religious war”.

After the presentation, a question and answer session gave participants an opportunity to discuss issues of importance to the Middle East.

DerGhougassian received a Ph.D. in International Studies from University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. with an emphasis on international security. He is the chair of the Theory of International Relations at Universidad Nacional de Lanus (now on leave) and a visiting professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Previously he taught at Universidad de San Andres and the American University of Armenia. He taught about the Middle East at ISEN, the diplomatic school of Argentina, among other institutions. Born in Lebanon, DerGhougassian moved to Argentina in 1987 to become the editor of Diario ARMENIA, the local Armenian community’s publication. He remained in that position until 1997. Last October he received the Ugarit 2017 prize of the Argentine Syrian-Lebanese Club for his input in the field of culture.

Further presentations of the book are scheduled in coming weeks, including an academic roundtable on December 5 at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

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