Dr. Sebouh Aslanian to Speak At Harvard University on New Julfa Armenians

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dr. Sebouh D. Aslanian, the newly-appointed Richard Hovannisian Term Chair of Modern Armenian History, established by the Armenian Educational Foundation at UCLA, will speak on Wednesday, September 14, at 8 p.m., at Harvard University’s Center for Government and International Studies, Auditorium S010, 1730 Cambridge St.

Aslanian’s lecture, “From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa,” will draw on his recently- published book of the same name, issued by the University of California Press. Aslanian’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies at Harvard University, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard, the Harvard Armenian Society, the Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).

The lecture will be Aslanian’s first since his appointment to the Hovannisian Chair at UCLA.

Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, Aslanian’s groundbreaking study, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire.

Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched from London and Amsterdam to Manila and Acapulco.

Aslanian brings to light the trans-imperial cosmopolitan world of the New Julfans, the effects of long distance trade on the organization of community life, the ethos of trust and cooperation that existed among merchants and the importance of information networks and communication in the operation of early modern mercantile communities.

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Prof. George Bournoutian of Iona College has praised From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean as “the most researched and original work” on the subject that “exceeds, by far, all previous scholarship on the Armenian merchants of New Julfa.”

The book has been selected by the Committee of the California World History Library as the first book to appear in their new series, Author’s Imprint, that celebrates and recognizes “exceptional scholarship by first-time authors.”

Aslanian has previously taught in the department of history at CSU-Long Beach as an assistant professor in the fall of 2010 after serving a year at Cornell University as a Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral fellow in world history.

He received his PhD (with distinction) from Columbia University in 2007.

Aslanian specializes in early modern world and Armenian history and is the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of World History, the Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient, the Journal of Global History and Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies.

From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean will be on sale at the talk and available for signing by the author. Limited free parking will be available at Harvard’s Broadway Garage (7 Felton St.) from 7 to 10 p.m. More information on Aslanian’s lecture may be had by calling NAASR or e-mailing hq@naasr.org.

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