The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) recently announced the publication of Armenians of Lebanon: From Past Princesses and Refugees to Present-Day Community. The volume, an undertaking of Haigazian University, is being distributed in North America by NAASR with its Armenian Heritage Press as co-publisher. The book was officially launched in Beirut on April 9, and a U.S. launch, to be held at the NAASR Center in Belmont, Mass., is being planned.
Armenians of Lebanon presents papers given at the September 2005 conference “Armenians of Lebanon: Past and Present,” held on the occasion of Haigazian’s 50th anniversary. The volume was edited with an introduction by Dr. Aida Boudjikanian, originally from Lebanon and presently living in Montreal, and contains papers in English, French, and Armenian. The conference was organized by Dr. Ara Sanjian, the then-director of the department of Armenian studies at Haigazian.
The hardcover book is 506 pages long and has 14 chapters grouped thematically and chronologically in 8 parts. Seven chapters are in English, four in French, and three in Armenian—the languages in which the original papers were presented. Translated abstracts are given at the end of the chapters. The volume contains biographies of the authors and photographs and maps.
Wide range of topics in Armenian history and culture in Lebanon
Covering the full span of Armenian history and society in Lebanon from medieval times to the present day, the book is a unique repository of the rich culture and vitality of one of the most important Armenian diaspora communities. It provides a wealth of information for both the scholar and the layperson, and is of particular interest for those with ties to Lebanon.
The first section of the book, “La Présence Arménienne au Temps des Croisades” contains a chapter by Claude Mutafian entitled “Les Princesses Arméniennes et le Liban Latin (XII-XIII siècle)” (“Armenian Princesses and Latin Lebanon, 12th-13th Century”), covering the marriages between French crusader lords and Armenian princesses. The second section, “Orphan and Refugee Period,” contains chapters by Hilmar Kaiser—“The Armenians of Lebanon During the Armenian Genocide”—which draws mostly on Turkish archives and in particular on Talat Pasha’s telegrams sent to his administration’s officials or to Turkish army officials based in Lebanon and in the region; and Vahé Tachjian—“L’établissement Définitif des Réfugiés Arméniens au Liban dans les Années 1920 et 1930” (“The Permanent Settlement of Armenian Refugees in Lebanon in the Years 1920 to 1930”)—which makes extensive use of the AGBU archives on the permanent resettlement of Armenian refugees during this period.
The third section, in Armenian, contains Verjine Svazlian’s “Libananahay hayrenadardzneru hamazhamanakeay ev tarzhamanakeay mshakutayin zarkatsune Hayastani mech” (“The Synchronic and Diachronic Cultural Development of the Lebanese-Armenian Repatriates in Armenia”), an ethnographic study of Lebanon Armenians, originally from Cilicia, who “repatriated” to Soviet Armenia.
The fourth section, “Music, Literature, Printing: A Few Facets of a Rich Artistic and Cultural Life,” contains chapters by Roubina Artinian, “Armenian Choirs in Lebanon, 1930-1980”; Nora Salmanian, “La contribution des Arméniens libanais à la vie musicale et artistique au Liban de 1920 à nos jours” (“Lebanese-Armenian Contributions to the Musical and Artistic Life of Lebanon from 1920 to the Present Time”); Armen Urneshlian, “Arabi kerpare Libananahay grakanutean mech” (“Arab Characters in Lebanese-Armenian Literature”); and Araxy Deronian, “The Armenians in Lebanon at the Library of Congress.”
The fifth section, “Les Arméniens au Travail,” contains editor Aida Boudjikanian’s essay “Le travail autonome auprès des Arméniens du Liban: entre la pratique d’une tradition communautaire et un concept des théories des diasporas” (“Self-Employment Among Lebanese Armenians: From a Community Tradition to a Concept of Diaspora Theories”), while the sixth contains Shoghik Ashekian’s “Libananahay gaghute ev Haykakan Tseghaspanutean hartse (1965-1975)” (“The Lebanese Armenian Community and the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, 1965-1975”) covering the Lebanese Armenian community’s quest for genocide recognition.
Section seven, “The War Years (1975-1991) in Lebanon and the Various Roles Played by the Armenians of Lebanon and of the Diaspora,” contains a pair of essays: Rouben Avsharian’s “The Ta’ef Agreement and the Lebanese Armenians” and Khatchik Der Ghoukassian’s “Lebanon in My Mind: The Civil War and the Centrality of the Lebanese Armenian Community in the Making of Armenian Diaspora Nationalism.” The final section features Asbed Kotchikian’s “Between (home)land and (host)land: Lebanese Armenians and the Republic of Armenia” and Nicola Migliorino’s “The Lebanese System and Armenian Cultural Diversity Between Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Opportunities and Limits.”
Armenians of Lebanon is available from NAASR’s bookstore for $35 (less 15% for NAASR members). Books can be purchased in person at NAASR, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478, or online at www.naasr.org. For more information, contact NAASR at 617-489-1610 or [email protected].