Vladimir Barkhudaryan

Posthumous Festschrift in Honor of Academician Barkhudaryan: A Wide Glance to Armenian Worldwide Presence – from Javakhk to Oceania


By Artsvi Bakhchinyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN — A new anthology of academic papers, Collection of the Conference Papers Dedicated to the 90th Anniversary of Academician Vladimir Barkhudaryan, was published recently by the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of Republic of Armenia (NASRA). The conference was held at the same Institute on September 27, 2017. The editor of the volume is Academician Ashot Melkonyan, it is designed by Gevorg Stepanyan, Artsvi Bakhchinyan and Elizabeth Tajiryan.

Academician Vladimir Barkhudaryan (1927-2017), historian, doctor of historical sciences, professor, Honored Scientist of the Republic of Armenia, organizer of academic life, was a well-known and esteemed figure among the academic circles of Armenia and Diaspora. He started work at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR in 1958: as a scientific secretary (1959-1963), senior scientific fellow (1963-1967), and deputy director (1967-1990). At the same time, starting in 1975, he taught at Yerevan State University. From 1990 to 2016, he was the head of the department of Armenian communities and Diaspora of the Institute,. Barkhudaryan occupied high position at NASRA: member of the Presidium, academic secretary of the NASRA, vice president and academic secretary, vice president and academic secretary of the Department of Armenology, Humanities and Social Sciences. The main areas of his research were the history of Armenian communities, Armenian-Russian relations, Armenian historiography and Armenian culture in Middle Ages. Barkhudaryan was the author of more than 100 scientific works, including school textbooks on the history of the Armenian people, as well as monographs on various Armenian communities of Russia.

Eighteen articles in the volume are in Armenian, but there are also three articles in French and one in Italian. The majority of the contributors are researchers of the department of Armenian communities and Diaspora of NASRA. They all have English summaries; some are with illustrations.

The volume opens by the words of appreciation of Armenologist, philosopher, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, entitled “A bouquet of Flowers on your Grave, Dear Valodia,” an appreciation of the academic and personal qualities of the late historian. Archbishop Zekiyan, a lifelong close friend of Barkhudaryan, shares his personal memories about his “older brother.”

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The first article, “Pages from the History of Aghkyorpi Village, the Birthplace of the Academician Vladimir Barkhudaryan” by Armen Asatryan, covers the partial history of the Aghkyorpi village in Marneuli in Georgia, on the northern side of Lalvar Mountain. The village is an ancient Armenian settlement which used to be part of Armenian Gugark province. In the early Soviet times the village was part of Armenia, but at the beginning of the 1930s, according to the decision of the Georgian-Azerbaijani minor authority of the Transcaucasian SFSR, along with the neighboring Armenian village of Chanakhchi, it was given to the Republic of Georgia. These Armenian villages have been severely suffering because of Stalin’s illegal redrawing of that part of the border. Barkhudaryan was born in this village, and nowadays there are representatives of the Barkhudaryan family living in Aghkyorpi.

Gevorg S. Stepanyan’s “Cultural Contribution of the Artsakh Armenians to the Development of Shirvan and Apsheron (A Short Review)” shows how the Armenians being ancient inhabitants of  the left bank of the Kura River, contributed to the social, political, economic, educational and cultural life of the region. Historical sources testify that Armenian influence on the cultural developments of Shirvan and Apsheron was mostly spread from Great Armenia’s north-eastern provinces Artsakh and Utik.

“Tumanyan’s Understanding of the Literature of Diaspora” by Susanna Hovhannisyan (Institute of Literature of NASRA) touches the insights of poet Hovhannes Tumanyan’s about Armenian literature in Armenia and Diaspora. Before Tumanyan no one spoke clearly about the peculiarities of the literature of Armenian communities and the motherland; the poet was convinced that it was necessary to understand the literature of communities in the context of the same national culture.

Ani Fishenkjian’s “The Armenian Red Cross of Aleppo (Historical Review)” sheds light on the history of the Armenian National Red Cross of Aleppo, founded in 1919 due to the efforts of several national figures of Aleppo, the main goal of which was to support all needy people (in the fields of education and health), along with other humanitarian organizations. The article is based on archive materials preserved at the Armenian Prelacy of Peria.

“Three Armenian-Latin Funeral Inscriptions of the 18th Century From Three Churches in Rome” (in Italian) by Anna Sirinian (University of Bologna, Italy) presents three Armenian-Latin funerary inscriptions that were composed during the 18th century and have been preserved in three different churches in the heart of Rome. In addition to the transcription and translation of their texts, an attempt is made to discern the reasons why the three individuals named in these inscriptions were buried in these places rather than in the church of St. Mary the Egyptian, which was the center of the Armenian nation at Rome in that period.

“The Armenian Presence in Oceania” by Artsvi Bakhchinyan presents random facts about temporary and permanent presence of Armenians in Oceania. The first Armenian who appeared in the region was musician Yervant Hagopian, who lived in Papua New Guinea in the beginning of the 20th century and recorded 26 Guinean songs. The Hawaiian Islands are the only place in Oceania where there is an Armenian community. In the 1920s, Hawaii’s Armenian Committee collected over $200,000 for the Near East Relief. Honolulu-based artist Arman Manookian (1904-1931) was called the “Hawaiian Gauguin.” There were also several Armenian inhabitants in French Polynesia, like, Rouben Mirimanoff, whose three half-Tahitian daughters live in Polynesia until today.

Gerard Dedeyan (University of Montpellier, France) in his French-language paper “Armenians and Crete (912-1669). A Review” points the early Armenian presence on that Greek island: their role was great during the conquest of Crete by the Armenian emperor of Byzantium Nikepor Pokas and during the Byzantine and Venetian rule. For the final study of the issue, the academic examination of the Armenian manuscripts related to the relevant period may play an important role.

Another paper in French, “Armenian-French Relations For Centuries (Historical Overview)” by Claude Mutafian (France) outlines the centuries-long relations between two cultures, dividing them into four periods: a) before the Crusades (4-12th centuries), b) during the Crusades (12-14th centuries), c) from the Crusades to the Armenian Genocide (15-20th centuries), d) post-Genocide period (end of 20th century – beginning of 21st century). The author briefly touches upon the relatively important political, historical and cultural events from the chronological point of view of the Armenian-French relations.

The same author’s “Armenian voivodes from Moldova” (in French) presents the 16th-century Moldovan state figure Ion Voda, who according to the 17th-century Moldovan chronicler Urechi, was of Armenian descent. He held the post of Vojvod for a short time, from 1572 to 1574, however, the period of his rule was known for its extreme cruelty to the local boars, the clergy and the Turkish-Tatar invaders.

The “hero” of Elizabeth Tajiryan’s paper, “Marquise Gregorio D’Agdollo (1707-1789)” is Gregorio Agdollo, a merchant from New Julfa, owner of art galleries in Venice and Florence, who had a special role among the Armenian traders of Venice of the first half of the 18th century. The written heritage of the era reveals the close ties of Agdollo’s family with the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice and its Abbot Mkhitar Sebastatsi.

Hovhannes Aleksanyan’s “Armenians in Poland and Baltic States in Modern Stage” informs how after the collapse of the USSR tens of thousands of Armenians arrived in Poland and Baltic states (former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), where they were actively engaged especially in the trading business. There are also many renowned public, arts, cultural figures who have established themselves in the societies of these countries. The Armenian communities of Poland and Baltic states have an important role today in the relations of these countries and Armenia.

Seta Ohanian’s “National Schools of Christian Communities of Baghdad in the Second Half of the 19th Century” pays attention on education history of the Iraqi Armenians: native Christian communities in Baghdad had their own national schools, two of which belonged to the followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church. After the liberation of Iraq from the Ottoman yoke at the hands of Allied forces, these two schools were united into one co-educational institution, eventually forming and preserving the Armenian national identity.

Vahe Sarkisyan’s “Javakhk Armenians’ Position on a Referendum on the Future of the Soviet Union on 17 March, 1991 (A Document Story)” discusses a matter from the newest period of the history of Javakhk, the Armenian-populated region in Georgia, specifically how its population decided do not participate in a nationwide referendum on the preservation of the USSR on March 17, 1991. The call of “Javakhk” and “Parvana” public movements to inhabitants of Javakhk says that “the USSR is the empire whose existence in itself is antidemocratic and it conducts policy of absolute power.”

Vahram Gharakhanyan’s “On the Issue of Armenian-Jewish Relations (A Historical Overview)” is a brief report on early contacts between two ancient peoples. The relations between the two peoples, although in their ancient, pre-Christian era (when they had their own states) sometimes had military and political manifestations, yet were mainly of cultural, commercial and economic character. It is noteworthy also that Jewish communities have been formed in Armenia since ancient times. The history of Armenian-Jewish relations and contacts are not only historical, but also has political importance in the lives of two peoples.

Vartan Matiossian (USA) presents “The Immigration Policy of the United States and the Formation of the Armenian Communities in Latin America.” It is a well-known fact that the USA has passed a series of immigration laws by the Congress between 1882 and 1924. This legislation accomplished the main goal pursued by immigration groups: the almost complete ban of so-called undesirable foreign immigration to the US, which was essentially enforced until 1965. The historical and political process that ended with the passage of the two “quota laws” approved in the 1920s should be analyzed in order to contextualize the formative years of the Armenian communities in Latin America from Argentina to Mexico.

Knarik Avakian’s “The Armenians of USA in the Context of the 20-21st Century Armenian-Russian Political Relations” notes, that if in the past the positive Armenian-Russian relations were directly proportional to the positive Diaspora-Armenia relations, then in the 21st century world arena the sweeping political and social-economic processes taking place in Russia and Armenia have created a political barrier between the relations of Armenia (consequently also of Russia) and some Diasporan (particularly Armenian-American) organizations. On author’s opinion, as a result of that situation, the one-time friendly and realistic collaboration between the Diaspora and Armenia (consequently also Russia) has been converted into an activity depending on international policy, causing considerable damage to the national strategic interests.

The current Festschrift has been published in a very limited number, yet it is an important contribution in the field of Armenian communities and Diaspora studies, enriching our insights from geographical and historical to cultural, geopolitical and other aspects.


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