Tekeyan Cultural Association Pays Tribute to Dr. Richard Hovannisian’s Legacy


The Central Board of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Richard Gable Hovannisian at the age of 90. He was one of the most prominent scholars in the field of modern Armenian studies from the latter half of the 20th century till the present and helped make this field accepted as a worthy part of Western academia.

Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian

Not only was he the premiere scholar of the first Republic of Armenia through his four volumes and other works dedicated to this topic, but he also used his position as a chairholder at the University of California, Los Angeles, to hold numerous conferences on the various provinces and regions of historic Armenia, the results of which he later edited and published as books. In addition to promoting academy study of these regions, this made their history accessible in English to Armenian Americans who could not otherwise learn of their ancestral lands.

He served as a champion of recognition and study of the Armenian Genocide both in academia and in broader society at a time when this appeared an uphill struggle, yet he never wavered. Even when confronted in his own university with opponents who enjoyed the sponsorship of the Turkish state, then considered an indispensable ally to the US, he made the voice of truth and justice heard.

He enabled the recording through his university classes of oral histories of Armenian Genocide survivors, which preserved for future generations many important aspects of the Genocide which otherwise would have remained unknown.

He tirelessly traveled to many Armenian communities in the US and abroad to give lectures which helped inform both new and old generations of various aspects of Armenian history, and in this way strengthened their attachment to Armenian identity and culture.

Dr. Hovannisian on a personal level served as an example for American Armenians of how to both be very American and very Armenian. The role of his wife Vartiter Kotcholosian Hovannisian, M.D., in supporting his work through many decades should also never be forgotten. His children and grandchildren have in their own ways perpetuated his legacy, with Raffi Hovannisian perhaps the best well known as a politician and the first foreign minister of the current Republic of Armenia.

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The Tekeyan Cultural Association joins together with so many other institutions and individuals of the Armenian world to honor Richard Hovannisian’s contributions to our understanding of our history and the strengthening of our identity. May his children, grandchildren, family and friends in particular take comfort that though physically he is no longer with us, his memory will endure through his works and words.

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