No Stopping Now: Dadrian Celebrates 85th Birthday

TORONTO—Showing no signs of slowing down, Prof. Vahakn N. Dadrian, the director of genocide research at the Zoryan Institute and an internationally renowned expert in the field of genocide studies, recently celebrated his 85th birthday. Widely recognized as the foremost scholar of the Armenian Genocide, Dadrian has devoted more than 50 years to the study of virtually every aspect of it—and he has no intention of stopping now.


On the momentous occasion, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian said, “You are one of the most important Armenian scientists of our time, whose work and findings are hugely meaningful for both public and political policy. Your investment in the campaign for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and your ongoing efforts in fighting attempts at denial has resulted in ongoing feats of success. Your work has a huge impact in the study of genocide and its denial, where Armenia has staked its place as a groundbreaking leader in the field.”

Below are congratulations received from some of Dadrian’s admirers and distinguished colleagues worldwide.

Prof. William A. Schabas, current president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland in Galway, wrote: “Vahakn Dadrian’s historical research on the Armenian Genocide is informed by a rich grasp of the legal issues. In particular, he has examined the efforts nearly a century ago to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice. His contribution both to historical and legal scholarship is enormous.”

Israel Charney, a past president of the IAGS, executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, and editor-in-chief of “Genocide Prevention Now,” noted: “Professor Vahakn Dadrian was one of the earliest students of comparative aspects of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, and in recent years he is at the crest of his dedicated research, including a sterling study of the judicial process of post-Ottoman Turkish courts-martial.”

Prof. M.C. Bassiouni, professor of law and president of the International Human Rights Institute at De Paul University, wrote: “Of all the conflicting and contradictory literature on the subject, including many Turkish publications denying, justifying, or explaining what happened, Dadrian’s work is the most legally convincing and from other accounts, the closest to historical accuracy with such debated facts.”

Prof. Roger W. Smith, chairman of the Academic Board of the Zoryan Institute, gave this observation: “Vahakn Dadrian helped to create the field of comparative genocide studies, bringing to his work an interdisciplinary perspective that joined sociology, history, and law, enriched further by his ability to draw upon half a dozen languages. He is best known, however, for his pioneering work on the Armenian Genocide, which proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the wartime treatment of the Armenians can only be described as genocide.”

Prof. Taner Akçam, holder of the Kaloosdian-Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, stated: “The renowned sociologist, Norbert Elias, upon receiving the Adorno Prize in 1977, said during his acceptance speech that he carried a torch lit well before him, and there will be others after him to carry it into the future. In Dadrian’s case, we should say that he was not the carrier of a torch lit before him; he was the inventor of the torch in the field of Armenian Genocide research. For me, Dadrian is a founding intellect in the field of comparative genocide studies and he laid the foundation of Armenian Genocide studies, upon which we, today, build our research.”

In 2008, Dadrian co-authored with Akçam a massive legal and historical study of the post-World War I Turkish military tribunals on the Armenian Genocide, which was published in Turkish by Bilgi University Press. The English edition of this book is now in its final stages of publication and will be released later this year.

With undergraduate degrees in mathematics, history, and international law, and a Ph.D. in sociology, Dadrian began his career serving as a professor of sociology at the State University of New York. Soon thereafter he shifted his academic career to conducting research full-time on the Armenian Genocide. His tireless activity in the field of genocide studies produced a wealth of material that is invaluable to the study of genocide, particularly the Armenian case. In reference to Dadrian’s scholarship, writer, philosopher, and pioneering genocide scholar Leo Kuper stated: “Prof. Dadrian has succeeded in extracting authoritative documentation of the crime of genocide involving first-hand evidence… It is an outstanding work of scholarship along with his “Yale Journal of International Law” article, a major contribution to the rebuttal of denial.”

Dadrian also received warm congratulations from the Armenian ambassador to Washington, Tatoul Markaryan, and Radik Martirosyan, the president of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. Hayk Demoyan, the director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, wrote: “With your productive academic activity of many years, you have become a living legend for the new generation of academics. Your studies are precious in terms of giving a comprehensive academic illustration of the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, which significantly contributed to the international recognition and condemnation of the fact. We are sure that your academic path is life-long, and that you will still present new volumes and studies to the public.”

Also commenting on the importance of the occasion was the president of the Zoryan Institute, K.M. Greg Sarkissian, who stated: “Dadrian’s knowledge, wisdom, multidisciplinary publications, and teaching have been an inspiration to Zoryan’s board members, staff, students, and volunteers. His 85th birthday is a cause for celebration and an impetus for the urgency of developing new scholars to follow in his footsteps.”

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