Sebouh Aslanian

Sebouh Aslanian Appointed Director of UCLA Armenian Studies Center


WESTWOOD, Calif. – Sebouh Aslanian, Professor of History and holder of the Richard Hovannisian Chair in Modern Armenian History, was appointed the inaugural director of the Armenian Studies Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

The announcement was made on May 7 by two officials of UCLA’s International Institute: Prof. Cindy Fan, Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement in a message to colleagues, and Christopher L. Erikson, Senior Associate Vice Provost.

The Armenian Studies Center is housed within the Promise Armenian Institute (PAI), and Professor Aslanian will work closely with PAI inaugural director Professor Ann Karagozian. PAI is a groundbreaking new entity within the UCLA International Institute. Made possible with a $20 million gift from the estate of Kirk Kerkorian, the largest gift that the International Institute has received, the Promise Armenian Institute positions UCLA to build significantly upon its more than 50 years of history of Armenian Studies.

This new institute is the hub for world-class research and teaching on Armenian Studies including the Armenian Studies Center, and for coordinating new and ongoing research and public impact programs across UCLA, from social sciences to health sciences, from humanities to music, the arts, to engineering, and from public policy to management. The Promise Armenian Institute’s size, scope, and interdisciplinary approach make it the first of its kind in the world.

Professor Aslanian is author of the award-winning book From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (University of California Press, 2011) as well as numerous scholarly articles on Armenian history and Armenian Studies.  His recent articles include “‘Many have come here and have deceived us’: Some Notes on Asateur Vardapet (1644-1728), An Itinerant Armenian Monk in Europe,” Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift Fur Armenische Philologie (2019); “Une vie sur plusieurs continents: Microhistoire globale d’un agent arménien de la Compagnie des Indes orientales, 1666-1688,” Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales (2018); “From ‘Autonomous’ to ‘Interactive’ Histories: World History’s Challenge to Armenian Studies,” An Armenian Mediterranean, Words and Worlds in Motion (2018); and “The Great Schism of 1773: Venice and the Founding of the Armenian Community of Trieste,” Reflections of Armenian Identity in History and Historiography (2018).

Aslanian is currently working on two book projects.  The first is a history of early modern global Armenian print culture and is provisionally titled Early Modernity and Mobility: Port Cities and Printers Across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512-1800. Under contract with Yale University Press, the book rethinks in novel and insightful ways both the role of mobility in the early modern period in global history and the rise and development in that history of Gutenberg print culture across the early modern diasporic Armenian communities in the port cities of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean world.

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The second book project is provisionally titled Signed, Sealed, and Undelivered: The Voyage of the Santa Catharina and a Global Microhistory of the Indian Ocean, c. 1738-1756.  A narrative microhistory of trade and politics in the early modern Indian Ocean, the book relies on 2,000 pieces of mercantile and family correspondence, commercial contracts, and other papers stored on an Armenian-freighted ship, the Santa Catharina and seized by the British navy in 1748. The book unpacks these letters, now stored at the High Court of Admiralty, and probes them to understand economic, cultural, and political histories of Indian Ocean arena and emerging commercial and contractual isomorphism in the age of Empire.

Aslanian manages the academic activities of his chair and teaches courses in the department of history on such topics as the three-part “Armenia and Armenians in World History,” graduate seminars such as “Port Cities and Printers: An Introduction to Early Modern World and Armenian History,” and the survey class “The Middle East, 1100-1700: From the Crusades and Mamluks to the Age of the Gunpowder Empires.”

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