This year marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of Armenian Revolutionary Federation–one of the oldest and most influential political organizations in Armenian history. On this occasion, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies and the Armenian Review have organized a commemorative academic conference on the ARF’s history, current activities and future prospects.
The conference titled “The ARF at 120: History in the Making” will be held on December 4 at the Davidson Conference Center on the campus of University of Southern California (Driving Directions). The conference will critically examine such key issues as socioeconomic aspects of ARF’s activities in Armenia; role of women in the ARF; the challenge of functioning as state-based political party and a Diaspora-wide political movement; and assessments of historical developments and issues of current relevance.
The day-long event will feature academics, researchers, professionals and activists from Armenia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States, who will present nuanced and multi-disciplinary analyses of ARF’s activities in celebration of its 120th anniversary.
The conference will be webcasted live on the day of the event on arf120.com. The event is free and open to the public but the organizers are strongly recommending attendees register ahead of time. Register online at arf120.com.
Today, we introduce the speakers and present some of the topics to be addressed during the third panel of the conference, titled “The ARF Between Nation and State.”
Khachig Tölölyan teaches literature and cultural theory in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He founded and edits Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, as well as Pynchon Notes, a journal devoted to the novels of Thomas Pynchon. He writes in English and Armenian on theories of diaspora and on the Armenian diaspora. He has published on the modern novel, Armenian terrorism, and critical and cultural theory.
As ANCA Executive Director, Aram Hamparian serves as the organization’s primary national representative to the Administration, Congress, and the Washington foreign policy community. Prior to his work at the ANCA, he was an active member of the New Jersey chapter of the ANCA. He works day to day on a broad range of legislative, policy, research, political, campaign, media, coalition, and community-related concerns along with the ANCA’s national staff, and in coordination with regional ANCA offices and a network of more than 50 local chapters.
The Anatomy of Advocacy: The ARF in North America
The presentation will trace the evolution of the Armenian American community’s advocacy agenda over the past 120 years. The talk will trace the growth of Armenian American participation in U.S. civic life, with a focus on the challenges faced and overcome by the community, over the course of many generations, in generating grassroots and other forms of political and policy-based leverage aimed at impacting U.S. foreign policy on issues of concern to the community.
Armen Sargsyan is a member of the National Assembly of Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and the chairman of the ARF faction in the National Assembly. He is also the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth of the NKR National Assembly. Mr. Sargsyan also teaches Armenian History at Artsakh State University. Mr. Sargsyan was involved in the Karabakh Liberation Movement and in was the commander of a brigade in his hometown of Martuni. Between 1993 and 1994 he became the deputy commander of his battalion. He was awarded the Marshal Baghramian and Andranik Ozanian medals of valor. Mr. Sargsyan is also a member of the ARF Central Committee of Artsakh.
The ARF in Nagorno-Karabakh
The presentation will cover the history of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh, from its role in the region prior to sovietization in the 19th century to its instrumental role in its liberation from Azeri rule and subsequent involvement as a political party involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic government.
Ohannes Geukjian pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) specializing in political science. Later, he pursued postgraduate studies at Bradford University, in the UK, Department of Peace Studies and in 2005 was awarded a PhD in ethnic conflict and peace. Prof. Geukjian holds the position of Assistant Professor of political science at AUB, Lebanese American University (LAU), and Haigazian Universities in Beirut, Lebanon. In addition to political science, he also teaches human rights, the Armenian genocide, international conflict, and conflict resolution and history. Dr. Geukjian’s research interests focus on ethnic identities in multinational states, nationalism and ethnic conflict and conflict resolution. He has published in a number of scholarly journals like Nationalities Papers and Middle Eastern Studies. His book, Ethnicity Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy, is in print and will appear in May 2011.
ARF’s Politics in the Diaspora: The Taif Accord and the Armenians of Lebanon (1975-1989).
This study examines the policy of the ARF from the early 1970s until 1989 when the Taif Agreement ended the Lebanese civil war and initiated a period of state-building. To understand the policy of the ARF and its contribution to the Taif, it is crucial to explain and analyze the ARF’s policy in the 1970s and early 1980s and the reform plans that the party initiated and presented to the Lebanese warring parties to end the internal conflict. The ARF in particular and the Armenians in general refused to participate in the civil war by taking sides with either the Christians or Muslims. The ARF emphasized mutual trust and respect between all the Lebanese sects, because sustainable peace was based on maintaining the sectarian balance in the country. The ARF with the Hunchag and Ramgavar parties also supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon because they believed that a united Lebanon with a strong government was the only solution to the threatening internal and external problems. The policy adopted by the three parties promoted dialogue rather than violence to resolve all the disputed issues, peaceful coexistence between the communities and social justice and democracy as a means to build the future Lebanon.
Asbed Kotchikian is a lecturer at the Global Studies Department at Bentley University, where he teaches courses on the Middle East and former Soviet Union. He has a PhD in political science from Boston University and a BA in political science and public administration from the American University of Beirut. He spent two years (2000-2002) in former Soviet republics of Armenia, Georgia, and Latvia, where he conducted research and was a visiting lecturer in political science and international relations at local universities. During the last 10 years, Dr. Kotchikian has also traveled extensively and lived in the Middle East (Iran, Lebanon, Syria). He has published articles and book chapters on the foreign policies of small and weak states, national identity, and regional developments in the Middle East and Eurasia in various venues including Demokratizatsya, Insight Turkey, and Central Asia and the Caucasus. His book, entitled The Dialectics of Small States: Foreign Policy Making in Armenia and Georgia, was published in 2008. He is currently also the editor of Armenian Review.
Armenia’s vs Armenian Revolutionary Federation: The ARF between a Movement and a Party
Since Armenia’s independence in 1991, Armenian political groups and organization operating in the diasporas tried to expand their realm of operations and become politically active in Armenia a well as transform their modus operadni to become political parties competing for electoral support and votes n the Armenia national assembly. While some parties failed in the transformation, others had moderate and borderline success. This presentation will examine the attempt by the ARF to become a political party operating in Armenia while keeping its structure in the diasporas as a communal and advocacy group. The talk will try to answer questions such as why has the ARF garnished consistent but relatively lower support from the electorate; has the party been able to transform itself to become a political party in the traditional sense of the word or is it still captive of diasroric politics? Has the party been able to have any significant impact on the way politics is conducted in Armenia?