BOSTON – A pioneering all-day workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Saturday, April 7, is scheduled to bring together an international cast of scholars to assess the current state of Armenian women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
Dr. Lerna Ekmekcioglu, professor of history at MIT, and her colleague, Dr. Melissa Bilal, visiting professor of Armenian Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, are the organizers of the workshop, which aims to bring into public and scholarly attention the absence of Armenians in Women and Gender Studies and the lack of a feminist perspective in Armenian Studies.
In announcing the workshop, the two scholars explain that their purpose is to “start a conversation around ways of studying gender and sexuality in Armenian communities in the past and in the present, and ways of introducing Armenian experience into feminist history and theory.” Their hope is to “open up a discussion around fresh theoretical and methodological paths that will bring these two fields together.”
In opening the workshop, the two organizers will present their own project, “Feminism in Armenian: An Interpretive Anthology and a Digital Archive,” in which they are collecting and making available the writings of 12 Western Armenian feminists, including Srpuhi Diusap (1840-1901), Zabel Yesayan (1878-1943), Hayganush Mark (1883-1966) and Zaruhi Kalemkearian (1874-1971). Chair of this session is Anna Aleksanyan (Clark University).
The second session will discuss “Across the Linguistic Divide: Translating a Century of Armenian Feminist Thought,” with panelists Shushan Avagyan (American University of Armenia), Maral Aktokmakyan (University of Michigan), Jennifer Manoukian (UCLA) and Deanna Cachoian-Schanz (University of Pennsylvania). Lisa Gulesserian (Harvard University) will chair this session.