Prof. Lerna Ekmekcioglu

Historians in Action: How and Why We Reclaim an Armenian Feminist Past


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On Sunday, December 9 at 7 p.m., Zoravik (“in solidarity”), a Boston-based Armenian activist collective that promotes new avenues for political and grassroots organizing and project-based engagement for progressives, will feature a program on Armenian feminism. The program will take place at the Harvard Science Center, 110 Oxford St. , Cambridge, Room 110. It will feature Prof. Lerna Ekmekcioglu and Prof. Melissa Bilal.

Said the two scholars, “As Armenian women academics born in Istanbul we have long been involved in the feminist movement across continents. In this conversation with Zoravik and friends, we will share our research and personal experiences relating to Armenian women’s past and present struggle against all forms of injustice. Our latest project, ‘Feminism in Armenian: An Interpretive Anthology and Digital Archive,’ aims to end the ever-present invisibility of activist women in Armenian historiography and collective memory.”

Ekmekcioglu is McMillan-Stewart Associate Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she is also affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies Program. Ekmekcioglu majored in Sociology at Bogaziçi University, Istanbul and received her PhD at New York University’s joint program of History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies. She held a one year Manoogian post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Armenian Studies Program. Together with Melissa Bilal, Ekmekcioglu is the co-editor of the 2006 book in Turkish titled A Cry for Justice: Five Armenian Feminist Writers from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic (1862–1933). Her first monograph, Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey, came out from Stanford University Press in 2016. Currently she is collaborating with Melissa Bilal on a book and digital humanities project titled Feminism in Armenian: An Interpretive Anthology and Digital Archive which focuses on the life and works of 12 pioneering women intellectuals from 1860s to 1960s.

Bilal is Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University of Armenia. Previously, she was Dumanian Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies at the University of Chicago, Visiting Scholar of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ordjanian Visiting Faculty of Armenian Studies at Columbia University, Visiting Lecturer of History at Bogaziçi University, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Orient-Institut Istanbul. Receiving her PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago Department of Music, she held a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship in Music at Columbia University. Bilal earned her BA and MA degrees in Sociology at Bogaziçi University. Bilal’s most recent publications include the article “Lullabies and the Memory of Pain: Armenian Women’s Remembrance of the Past in Turkey,” Dialectical Anthropology (Forthcoming 2018) and the CD project “Voice Signatures: Recordings of Russian Armenian POWs in German Camps, 1916-1918” (Berlin Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Forthcoming 2018).

Formed in the wake of the Velvet Revolution, Zoravik seeks to mobilize the political, cultural, and social institutions of the diaspora to support and encourage transformative efforts in Armenian communities worldwide.

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