‘We Not Only Survived, We Thrive’: Philadelphia Community to Host Symposium on Ottoman-Era Artifacts

From April 10-12, the Philadelphia Armenian community will host a symposium and exhibit titled, “We Not Only Survived, We Thrive,” in commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide and in celebration of the valor of our ancestors, at St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Wynnewood, Pa.

"I remember and demand."
“I remember and demand.”

The weekend-long event, sponsored by the five Philadelphia area Armenian churches—the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church (Havertown), Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Cheltenham), St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church (Philadelphia), St. Mark’s Armenian Catholic Church (Wynnewood), and St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church (Wynnewood)—will kick off with a reception on Fri., April 10 with music provided by “Armenian Public Radio,” a trio of Los Angeles musicians who will be making their debut East Coast appearance in Philadelphia.

The symposium will be held on Sat., April 11, and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian, Professor Emeritus of Armenian and Near East History at UCLA and the world’s foremost scholar on modern Armenian history. Participating speakers are Teresa Alajajian-Hayrapetian, long-term co-editor of the AGBU’s “Aragast” literary magazine, speaking on “The Formula for Survival”; Dr. Russell Kashian, Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, addressing “Migration Patterns of Residence and Mobility”; Ani Boghikian-Kasparian, University of Michigan at Dearborn, sharing “Oral Histories of Life in Eastern Turkey after the Genocide”; Dr. Alfred Mueller II, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Neumann University, discussing “An Identity Carved in Stone: The Armenian ‘Khatchkar’ as a Rhetoric of Identity”; and Dr. Siobhan Nash-Marshall, Professor of Philosophy at Manhattanville College in New York, focusing on “Principles, Property and Genocide.” Additionally, five graduate students from Manhattanville College will comprise a panel discussing “Personhood and Genocide.”

According to symposium co-chairs Alfred Mueller II and Lusine Hampartzumyan-Mueller, “Given that the Armenian Genocide was launched with the killings of Armenian intellectuals, we think it is only fitting that we commemorate its 100th year with a scholarly gathering.”

The exhibit, which will run until Sunday at 5 p.m., will showcase the Armenian immigration experience from pre-American Civil War to the present. Among the several hundred items documenting the Armenian massacres from 1894 through the genocide in 1915 are rare books, pamphlets, posters, postcards and pins, as well as signed letters and documents written by former U.S. presidents and dignitaries during World War I. A selection of Armenian-related ephemera will also be on display to demonstrate the way in which Armenian Diasporans overcame their tragic past and built prosperous lives in their adopted country.

The exhibit is co-chaired by Mark and Melineh Momjian. Mark Momjian is one of the top family lawyers in the country and has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Armenian Assembly and Armenian Bar Association. “Our focus,” Momjian said, “is to not only ensure that the sacrifices made by those who perished will not be forgotten, but also pay tribute to the thousands of survivors and their descendants who were scattered across the world, and under harrowing conditions, managed to keep the Armenian spirit alive. The exhibit is also an expression of profound gratitude to Americans who participated in relief efforts. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alone, leaders like industrialist Howard Heinz, banker Andrew Mellon, manufacturer Samuel Fels, and merchant John Wanamaker joined countless Pennsylvanians in raising funds, organizing clothing and food drives, and traveling to the Near East to provide necessities and comfort to the survivors, especially scores of Armenian orphans.”

The weekend will conclude with a memorial luncheon on Sun., April 12, following Divine Liturgy services.

The charge for Friday’s reception is $35 per person, reservations for which can be made by contacting Fran Torcomian by calling (484) 433-3959 or e-mailing wesurvivewethrive@gmail.com. There is no charge for Saturday’s symposium or for viewing the exhibit on Saturday or Sunday; however, reservations are required. The exhibit will stay open until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The event is one of many community events being organized in cooperation with the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Philadelphia, with the specific focus of educating the public about the tragic events of 1915, when the Ottoman-Turkish government attempted to erase the entire Armenian population in Anatolia (present-day Turkey). For more information on this or other local Philadelphia commemoration activities, visit www.armeniangenocide100philly.com.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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