International experts to address crucial issues facing Diaspora

Experts and scholars from four corners of the world will converge upon Los Angeles on April 27 for a unique and topical academic conference called “Independence and Beyond: In Search of a New Armenian Diaspora after 1991,” which will tackle critical issues facing Diaspora-homeland relations, Asbarez reports.

The one day conference, which is organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee in collaboration with the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies, the Armenian Cultural Foundation and the Armenian Review, will take place on April 27 at USC’s Davidson Conference Center.

Through its various presentations and discussions, the conference will examine the impact of the independence of the Republic of Armenia and subsequent processes of nation-building on various facets of Diaspora life, such as political ideologies and cultural narratives, linguistic and literary production, organizations and institutions, economic investment, remittances and affiliation, and hybrid identity formation.

The four thematic panels will feature leading scholars of Armenian, Diaspora, and Transnational Studies. Using their expertise in fields that range from political science and history to literature and journalism, the conference participants will work toward new frameworks and definitions in conceptualizing “Diaspora” in the Armenian context.

Following opening remarks by Dr. Talar Chahinian of the ARF Western US Central Committee and Dr. Richard Dekmejian of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, the panels will kick off to lay out the critical issues that will be discussed during the day.

The first panel, entitled “Revisions of the Narrative of Return,” will be chaired by Dr. Houri Berberian of the California State University at Long Beach. Dr. Sossi Kasbarian of the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom will address “Return to Homeland: Challenging Concepts and Realities,” while Dr. Viken Yacoubian of Woodbury University will make a presentation on “Convergence through Diversity: The Diasporic Experience of Ethnoracaial Identity Development.” Dr. Chahinian of CSULB will round out the first panel with a presentation titled “The Real, the Imagined and the In-Between: Homeland Revisited.”

The second panel, “Cultural Narratives: Subjectivity and Language in the Evolving Diaspora,” will be conducted entirely in Armenian and will be chaired by Dr. Anahid Keshishian of UCLA. The panel will feature professors Hagop Gulludjian of UCLA, Marc Nichanian of the Sanaci University in Istanbul and Father Levon Zekiyan of Universita Ca’Foscari of Venice, Italy. Gulludjian will discuss “The Illusion of Survival: Whose Survival? What For?” Nichanian will answer the question “Subject or Sovereign?” while Zekiyan will tackle “Endangered vs. Enforced Identity.”

“Online Space and the Politics of Information Exchange” will be the third panel moderated by Dr. Hayg Oshagan of Wayne State University. Experts from the fields of information technology and journalism will address the evolvement of the Diaspora in the information age. The panel will feature Asbarez English Editor Ara Khachatourian, Armenian Weekly Assistant Editor Nanore Barsoumian, the proprietor of the Ianyan blog Liana Aghajanian and the director of the Groong news aggregator site Asbed Bedrossian of USC.

The conference will conclude with a tour-de-force panel entitled “(Re)Defining Diaspora and Nationalism” moderated by Dr. Khachig Tololyan of Weslyan University. This panel will feature Dr. Razmik Panossian, the director of the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon; Dr. Asbed Kotchikian, the editor of The Armenian Review and professor at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.; Dr. Stephan Astourian of the University of California Berkley; and Simon Payaslian of Boston University.

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