Armenian-American Identity Discussed at American Studies Conference

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico–Armenian scholars on Sunday, October 19, presented a panel entitled “Does History Influence Identity? An Exploration of the Third Generation of Armenia’s in America” at the annual American Studies Association (ASA) Conference in Albuquerque, marking the first time a discussion on Armenian issues was presented in the 57 years of the Conference’s existence.

Kim Hewitt, Assistant Professor of American History and American Studies at State University of New York, Empire State College (NY) presented her paper “The Myth of the Infinite Embrace: Armenia’s and American Citizenship,” which explored the influence of national policy in interpreting history as it affected and continues to affect Armenian people in America.

Janice Okoomian, an instructor at Bryant College (RI) who was unable to attend submitted her paper “Armenian American Literature and Feminist Analysis,” which was read by Julianne Newmark, the panel chair and Assistant Professor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Okoomian’s paper focuses on “family [as the] site of post-genocide survival” and concluded that, “diversity allowed Armenia’s to survive.”

Rubina Peroomian, a research Associate at the University of California, Los Angeles, presented her paper, “Third-Generation Armenian American Writers Echo the Quest for Self-Identity with the Genocide at Its Core,” which focused on the impact of genocide on self-identity as explored in several pieces of memoir and fiction.

Leah Sneider, a PhD candidate in American literature at the University of New Mexico, presented “The Story of History: American Studies and Race Theory Re-Imagined,” which explored how Armenian-Americans complicate race-theory in America and presented the case for history as a new way of distinguishing ethnicity in a diverse multi-ethnic America.

This year’s conference theme was “Back Down to the Crossroads: Integrative American Studies in Theory and Practice." The ASA Program Committee invited colleagues in American Studies and all related disciplines to submit proposals;on any topic dealing with American cultures, including topics in disciplines that have been under-represented in American Studies research and teaching. The ASA Annual Meeting is open to anyone having an interdisciplinary interest in the study of American cultures.”


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