USC to Host 3rd Annual Innovate Armenia Festival

On Saturday, September 23, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies presents Innovate Armenia 2017, a day of discovery, technology, music, food, wine, chess and lively conversation headlined by a pair of celebrity-journalist brothers and two 2016 Pulitzer Prize winners, Asbarez reports.

The brothers are Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and Harvard Business Review editor Adi Ignatius.

The Pulitzer Prize winners are poet Peter Balakian, of Colgate University, and novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, a USC professor of English and American studies.

A Vietnamese-born English literature professor headlining an Armenian diaspora festival may seem strange, but it goes to the heart of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies’ outward-looking, internationalist philosophy.

“We take global Armenian questions and explore them as part of big world issues,” says director Salpi Ghazarian. “Innovate Armenia is the platform where we make the best of scholarship accessible.”

The Armenian diaspora experience has lessons for everyone, according to David Kang, a featured speaker at Innovate Armenia 2016. A professor of international relations, business and East Asian languages, Kang heads USC’s Korean Studies Institute. His presentation last year focused on the fluidity of hybrid identities. “Armenians are going through very similar issues that Koreans have,” he said in his talk.

In a city as multiethnic as Los Angeles, the immigrant experience is something most of us can relate to, Ghazarian says. “Anyone, including those whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, will find something to pique their interest at Innovate Armenia.”

Last year’s festival, which focused on digital humanities, drew 3,000 attendees and 20,000 more watched online. This year’s program — with a focus on rethinking, relearning and reimagining identity, language, history and technology —is expected to draw even larger crowds.


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