BELMONT, Mass. — The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) announced in December the 2021 Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prizes for Excellence in Armenian Studies were jointly awarded to Dr. Stephen Badalyan Riegg for Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and the Armenians, 1801-1914 (Cornell University Press, 2020) and Dr. Marc David Baer for Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide (Indiana University Press, 2020); and to Nareg Seferian for his translation of the novel Mayda by Srpuhi Dussap (Armenian International Women’s Association Press). The 2021 awards are for books with a 2020 publication date.
NAASR’s Aronian Book Prizes were established in 2014 by the late Dr. Aronian and Dr. Geoffrey Gibbs, to be awarded annually to outstanding scholarly works in the English language in the field of Armenian Studies and translations from Armenian into English.
NAASR’s Director of Academic Affairs Marc A. Mamigonian commented that “this year’s prize-winning books — in a year with a number of very valuable publications also worthy of attention — really reflect the diversity of Armenian studies and its inextricable relationship with other fields such as Russian studies, Ottoman & Turkish studies, and Feminist studies to name just three. I think that Dr. Aronian, with her own diverse interests, would be pleased.”
Stephen Badalyan Riegg is assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. Russia’s Entangled Embrace, his first book, examines the complex relationship between the Russian imperial state and the Armenians who lived in the empire and in areas that over the course of the long nineteenth century would come under Russian control. In doing so, Riegg explores, at the meeting point of territoriality and religion, the “dramatic vicissitudes of policy and perception [that] characterized Russo-Armenian ties” in this period. The author examines the Armenian case as a vehicle to explore Russia’s colonization of the South Caucasus and to disentangle the “complex processes by which imperial Russia mobilized certain groups into loyal minorities.”
Via email, Riegg wrote, “It is a true honor to learn that my book is a winner of the Dr. Sona Aronian Award. My sincere gratitude goes to the members of the selection committee and the esteemed NAASR organization, which is a model of how to bridge the gap between the public and academe.” Riegg commented that “the work of historians remains as important today as ever. We must resist the illusory search for ‘the truth’ in history; instead, we must embrace the fact that the past was no less complicated than our present.”