Armenian Center at Columbia grants $85,000 in research funding

NEW YORK, NYThe Armenian Center at Columbia University has granted $85,000 in research funding to seven scholars and one artist, for projects exploring cultural-heritage loss, ethnic cleansing, architectural site location and medieval literature, among other topics.

The Center first issued a call for applications two years ago, at a time when the pandemic was disrupting many academic opportunities. Although Armenian-related scholarship at Columbia was a primary focus, applications from academics at other institutions, as well as independent artists, were also considered. All grants were issued in 2021 and in 2022.

The awardees and their projects are:

Ararat Sekeryan, PhD candidate, Columbia University, Department of Slavic Languages 

Project: “Literary Ethnic Cleansing of Armenians in Soviet and Post-Soviet Azerbaijani Literature.”

In 2004, the Republic of Azerbaijan launched an effort to transliterate Soviet-era Azerbaijani literature from the Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin script. More than two thousand works of fiction have been transliterated so far, Sekeryan notes in his proposal, but they are also being edited to remove or alter references to Armenia and Armenians. His research will examine these changes.

Whitney A. Kite, PhD candidate, Columbia University, Art History and Archaeology

Project: “The Lay of the Land: Armenian Monasteries in their Local Landscapes.”

Focusing on three monasteries—Horomos, Geghard and Tatev—Kite’s dissertation will explore the relationship between Armenian monasteries and their landscapes, seeking to discover “how medieval monks encountered their natural surroundings, and how those encounters are a reflection of or reflected in their theology.”

Christina Mehranbod, PhD candidate, Columbia University, Epidemiology

Project: “Alcohol Use Environment in Armenia”

Mehranbod will conduct field work in Armenia to study how alcohol is distributed and promoted, as a step toward developing “preventative intervention to reduce alcohol use and related harms.” Research assistance will be provided by student interns from the American University of Armenia, who will be mentored in data-collection techniques and GIS technology. 

Ares Edvart Zerunyan, MA candidate, Columbia University, International and World History

Project: “The Lost and the ‘Dammed’: The Social, Ecological, and Political Implications of the Southeast Anatolia Project.”

Zerunyan will be exploring dam construction in Anatolia and how it “forcibly imposes state planning” on the population “yet fails to account for the actual desires and needs of the local people.”

Simon Maghakyan, PhD candidate, Cranfield University, Defense and Security Studies

Project: “The Application of Remote-Sensing Technologies to Detect and Deter Heritage Crime.”

The grant will be used to further Maghakyan’s ongoing geospatial studies into the erasure of Armenian heritage in the South Caucasus and support “an academic article on innovative applications of satellite and other technology for early detection and deterrence of heritage crimes in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone.”

Aram Ghoogasian, PhD candidate, Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies

Project: “The Second Printing Revolution: How the Industrialization of Print Transformed a Diasporic Culture.”

Ghoogasian will examine the impact of the “second printing revolution” on Armenian culture in the nineteenth century.

Rachel Goshgarian, Associate Professor, Lafayette College, History

Project: “Armeno-Turkish and the Space of Language in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Worlds: Manuscript Production and the Circulation of Ideas, Literature, and People.”

Goshgarian is investigating the role that Armenian authors played the Turkish “linguistic and literary world in the late medieval and early modern periods.”

Kirill Gerstein, Pianist

Project: “Debussy/Komitas Project.” 

Funding will support “a substantial booklet containing four long essays: one each on Debussy’s late music, Komitas’ compositions and ethnomusicological work, WW1, and the Armenian Genocide.” The booklet will be produced in conjunction with a double album featuring works by both composers.

The Armenian Center at Columbia University is not taking applications for research grants at this time. 

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