Dr. Khatchig Mouradian inspires multiple audiences at NAASR

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian in conversation with Harvard doctoral student Julia Hintlian

BELMONT, Mass. “If you can’t read books, breathe books.” Dr. Khatchig Mouradian imparted these words of wisdom to his young (and older) audience during the first of his two in-person presentations at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) holiday open house on Thursday, December 15. 

Dr. Mouradian’s first presentation “The Books and Authors That Inspired My Journey” was in conversation with Harvard doctoral student Julia Hintlian. Stacked on the table in front of him during the discussion were several books, including a book of poetry by Vahan Tekeyan and novels by author Moushegh Ishkhan: For Bread and Light and For Bread and Love. There was also Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in both Armenian and English, which Dr. Mouradian called “transformative” and one that “enriches me and connects me to my childhood.”

A self-described bookworm, Dr. Mouradian “felt he could escape in books” as a child born a couple of years into the Lebanese Civil War. His parents encouraged his love of reading and exposed him to many languages as a child, including Armenian, Arabic, Turkish, French and English.

Hintlian’s insightful conversation-starters ranged from the importance of physical copies of books versus audiobooks/e-books and reading effectively with an eye to the future to how novels have had a tangible effect on Mouradian. Mouradian responded that it’s best not to be a purist and to consume books in the medium that works best for each person (audiobook, ebook or print) and to enjoy the experience and journey of reading a book. He shared that as a child he read a story in Armenian entitled, “Bring a stone from Ani.” When Mouradian traveled to Turkey for the first time, the ruins of Ani were the first place he visited. He knelt and started collecting small pebbles from the area and, in a moment of revelation, realized that he was recalling the story, prompting him to gather the stones.

Questions from the audience followed, including one asking which books to read before going to college. Mouradian suggested a number of books, including Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and said that he likes books that surprise him. “Read what interests you,” he said, and take in the sense of wonder books impart. 

Mouradian and Kurt awarded Aronian Book Prize 

Prior to Mouradian’s second presentation, NAASR’s Board of Directors chairperson Judith Saryan and director of Academic Affairs Marc Mamigonian both offered remarks. Mamigonian took a few moments to pay tribute to longtime NAASR supporter Edward Avedisian with a 2021 video featuring Avedisian on clarinet with the Armenian Chamber Orchestra.

NAASR’s Board of Directors chairperson Judith Saryan

Mamigonian then made a surprise announcement during his introductory remarks, to the delight of those gathered for the presentation. Mamigonian announced Dr. Mouradian as one of the recipients of the 2022 Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prizes for Excellence in Armenian Studies for his book The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918. NAASR awards the prizes annually in recognition of important scholarly works in the field of Armenian Studies. Mamigonian also shared that Dr. Ümit Kurt was announced two days prior as co-winner of the 2022 prize for his book The Armenians of Aintab: The Economics of Genocide in an Ottoman Province during his presentation with NAASR titled “Talat Pasha’s Genocide Technocrat: A Biography of Mustafa Reşat Mimaroğlu.”

NAASR Director of Academic Affairs Marc Mamigonian

Before beginning his presentation, Mouradian expressed his gratitude to NAASR for the award and recognition of his work. Additionally, he expressed his appreciation to many institutions, including NAASR, for offering opportunities for students like himself to achieve their academic aspirations.

From Books to Maps 

Mouradian’s second presentation was entitled “Gas Balloons, Emperors, and Armenian Mapmakers: A Cartographic Journey through the Library of Congress’ Collections.” While not an expert on Armenian cartography, Mouradian said he is an avid student of the subject, one which he has been able to pursue through the Library of Congress, which is home to the largest collection of maps in the world.

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian presenting “Gas Balloons, Emperors, and Armenian Mapmakers: A Cartographic Journey through the Library of Congress’s Collections,” December 15, 2022

Mouradian’s presentation spanned the 18th century with the work of the Mekhitarist congregation to the early 20th century, Ethiopia, the First Republic of Armenia and Soviet Armenia. He also included the first Armenian map printed in the early 1600s.

Central to Mouradian’s presentation was Fr. Elia (Yeghia) Endasian of the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist congregation, the engraver who made “an indelible mark on Armenian cartography.” Mouradian took the audience on a journey of Endasian’s map creations, from his world map in 1784 through a detour to his booklet about the history of the hydrogen balloon, which were of great interest to people of the time and increased his popularity, to his continental maps and map of the Ottoman Empire. A complete set of Endasian’s maps are housed in the Library of Congress, which have been digitized and are available for research. “These high-resolution scans spread Endasian’s legacy to the four corners of the world, a fitting tribute to a man who lived to bring the four corners of the world to Armenians,” Mouradian concluded.

A highlight of the evening was the physical display of three of Endasian’s maps discussed by Mouradian, thanks to the generosity and participation of the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA. Museum Collections curator Gary Lind-Sinanian was on hand to assist with the display for attendees to view the maps more closely following the presentation.

Attendees view maps by Fr. Elia (Yeghia) Endasian provided by the Armenian Museum of America

Dozens of participants attended both offerings by Dr. Mouradian, who is the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress. Dr. Mouradian is also a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University and serves as co-principal investigator of the project on Armenian Genocide denial at the Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University. Mouradian is the author of The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918, which received the Syrian Studies Association “Honourable Mention 2021.” He is the co-editor of two forthcoming volumes, After the Ottomans: Genocide’s Long Shadow and Armenian Resilience and Handbook of the Late Ottoman Empire: History and Legacy and the editor of the peer-reviewed journal The Armenian Review.

Mouradian’s complete presentation is available on the NAASR YouTube channel, which soon will also include his conversation with Hintlian.

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan

Pauline Getzoyan is editor of the Armenian Weekly and an active member of the Rhode Island Armenian community. A longtime member of the Providence ARF and ARS, she also is a former member of the ARS Central Executive Board. An advocate for genocide education, Pauline is the chair of the RI Holocaust & Genocide Education Commission and co-chair of the RI branch of The Genocide Education Project. In addition, she has been an adjunct instructor of developmental reading and writing in the English department at the Community College of Rhode Island since 2005.

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