Prof. Vahakn Dadrian

Genocide Studies Pioneer Vahakn Dadrian Dies


GENESEO, N.Y. (Combined Sources) — Prof. Vahakn Dadrian, one of the pioneers of modern genocide studies and one of the founders of Armenian Genocide studies, died on Friday, August 2. He was 93.

Dadrian’s interest in the Armenian Genocide was not only academic; he was born in 1926 to a family in Turkey that had lost many members to the Armenian Genocide.

Dadrian first studied mathematics at the University of Berlin, after which he decided to switch to a completely different field, and studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, and later, international law at the University of Zürich. He completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago.

In the 1970s, Dadrian participated in the creation of the comparative study of genocide.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree for his research in the field of Armenian Genocide Studies by the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, and later, in 1998, he was made a member of the Academy and honored by the President of Armenia, the republic’s highest cultural award, the Khorenatsi medal. In 1999, Dadrian was awarded on behalf of the Holy See of Cilicia the Mesrob Mashdots Medal.

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsored him as director of a large Genocide study project, which culminated with the publication of articles, mainly in the Holocaust and Genocide studies magazines. He was the keynote speaker at the centennial of the John Marshall Law School and delivered a lecture to the British House of Commons in 1995. He also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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He lectured extensively in French, English and German in the Free University of Berlin, the Universities of Munich, Parma, Torino, Zürich, Uppsala, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Bochum, Münster, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Geneva, Brussels and UNESCO’s Paris center.

From 1970 to 1991, Dadrian was a professor of sociology at State University of New York-College at Geneseo.

Dadrian was the director of Genocide Research at Zoryan Institute.

Dadrian had degrees in mathematics, history and law. His interdisciplinary background gave him a multifaceted look at historical and social problems, especially genocide. Dadrian was not only an authority on Armenian genocide, but also on genocide studies and theory in general, being part of the so-called “first generation” of genocide scholars, who created this area of study in the 1970s.

Given his command of several languages, Dadrian was able to do research in various archives around the world, revealing previously unknown documents about the Armenian genocide and creating sociological typologies about the event that have become a reference for all scholars of the subject. One of his last works was the book Judgments in Istanbul, co-authored with Prof. Taner Akçam.

Reactions from Around the World

President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian sent a letter of condolence to Dadrian’s family and friends.

“I knew Doctor Dadrian not only as a brilliant scholar but also as an excellent expert of international relations and a person communication with whom was instructive and gratifying. These recollections and memories of him will always stay bright with those who knew him and appreciated his accomplishments,” the President said.

Istanbul-Armenian Member of Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan, representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), took to Twitter on Sunday to pay tribute to Dadrian.

“Istanbul-born academician Vahakn Dadrian, who was best known for his works on the Armenian Genocide, has passed away. His books published in Turkey played an important role in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. God bless his soul!” Paylan tweeted, according to Ermenihaber.

In addition, many Armenian organizations expressed their condolences.

President of the Society for Armenian Studies Bedross Der Matossian announced: “Dadrian was the founder of the field of Armenian Genocide Studies and one of founders of the field of Comparative Genocide Studies. After studying mathematics at the University of Berlin, he pursued Philosophy at the University of Vienna, and later, International Law at the University of Zürich. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago. From 1970-1991 he was a professor of sociology at the State University of New York-College at Geneseo.

“In 1999 he joined the Academic Board of Directors of the Zoryan Institute. Since then he served as the Director of Genocide Research and oversaw some of the Institute’s most important projects. He was the author of more than 10 books and 100 articles the most important of which was The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (Berghahn, 2019). His books and articles have been translated into more than 10 languages.”

Dadrian’s books and articles have been translated into more than 10 languages. Among his books are:

  • Autopsie du Génocide Arménien. Trans. Marc & Mikaël Nichanian. Brussels: Éditions Complexe, 1995, 266p.
  • Haykakan Tsekhaspanut`iune Khorhtaranayin ev Patmagitakan Knnarkumnerov (The treatment of the Ottoman genocide by the Ottoman parliament and its historical analysis). Watertown, MA: Baikar, 1995, 147p.
  • The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence, RI & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1995, 452p.
  • German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity. Watertown, MA: Blue Crane Books, 1996, 304p.
  • The Key Elements in the Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide: A Case Study of Distortion and Falsification. Cambridge, MA and Toronto: Zoryan Institute, 1999, 84p.
  • Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1999, 214p.

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