Ronald Suny shows a movie poster of his family held by Vicken Mouradian.

Commemorating Genocide through ‘Shared Memories’ at UMich

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — About 80 individuals, including students, faculty and community members, gathered on April 24 for a special event titled “Shared Memories: The Armenian Experience Through Objects and Stories.”

Hosted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Armenian Studies (CAS) and the Armenian Students Cultural Association (ASCA), this event aimed to commemorate the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in a unique and interactive manner.

The event marked the Center for Armenian Studies’ second annual community commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in this forum.

“Shared Memories” introductory remarks by CAS Director Gottfried Hagen

Attendees were encouraged to bring objects and share stories that reflected the Armenian identity or experience. The atmosphere was filled with music, meaningful conversations, and traditional Armenian foods, creating a sense of camaraderie and connection.

Highlighting the importance of departing from traditional approaches to genocide commemorations like lectures or vigils, “Shared Memories” aimed to unite the vibrant Armenian community in a more inclusive and uplifting manner.

One significant aspect of the event was the share-and-tell portion, where participants brought in treasured items and narratives. Attendees shared heirlooms such as photographs, artworks and books, sparking dialogue about the shared experiences of the Armenian community.

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One participant, Rackham student Arakel Minassian, shared a portrait of his grandmother who lived through the Armenian Genocide and the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II. For Minassian, the event provided an essential opportunity to share his family’s stories and honor the resilience of Armenian diaspora communities.

Attendees from the Armenian Students Cultural Association

Many presentations focused on retelling family stories, particularly those of individuals who lived during and after the 1915 genocide. These narratives emphasized the importance of family, life, and the preservation of culture. Professor Emeritus Ron Suny, reflecting on the event, emphasized its significance in building a sense of community among Armenian descendants.

Beyond commemorating the genocide, “Shared Memories” allowed attendees to share their families’ stories and experiences, fostering a deeper connection within the Armenian community.

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