Fight cultural genocide: Discover these important Armenian heritage preservationists

April 18, 2010

Last week, I was invited to attend an event at the Zohrab Center in New York City. The standing room only audience heard presentations about cultural genocide from a distinguished panel of experts. Please be sure these organizations are on your Armenian heritage radar:

Zohrab Center

The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is a resource and research facility for the benefit of all those interested in Armenian Studies. With thousands of books, videos, maps, pictures, and other resources, the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, founded in 1987, helps researchers, academics, teachers, and the community-at-large learn about the Armenian community and its rich and noble history. Scholars, researchers and the general public are encouraged to write, phone email or visit the Center for information and material related to Armenia, its history, current events and people.

Project Save

Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives is the premier archive of Armenian photographs in the United States. Headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, Project SAVE’s mission is to collect, document, preserve, and present the historic and modern photographic record of Armenians and Armenian heritage.

Armenian Library and Museum of America

Founded in 1971, ALMA has grown into a major repository for all forms of Armenian material culture that illustrate the creative endeavors of the Armenian people over the centuries. Today, the Museum’s collections hold over 20,000 artifacts, including: 5,000 ancient and medieval Armenian coins, over 3,000 textiles and 180 Armenian inscribed rugs, and an extensive collection of Urartian and religious artifacts, ceramics, medieval illuminations and various other objects. The Library houses over 27,000 titles, an oral history collection, archival materials and various other publications.

The day after the program at the Zohrab Center, I interviewed an Armenian Genocide survivor for a book project. During our discussion, I asked him what he wants us to do as Armenians. He replied, “Learn the Armenian language…go to the Armenian church on Sundays…marry Armenian…raise your children to know the Armenian culture and heritage…”

Cultural Armenian Genocide

April 2, 2010

Reading my favorite grocer’s newsletter (Trader Joes) I learned that the actual name for Turkish Apricots is prunus armenicus (Armenian plum). And, since I’m in the midst of the research for my book about survivors of the Armenian Genocide, I was reminded of the concept of cultural genocide.

Wikipedia defines cultural genocide as:

The deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a people or nation for political, military, religious, ideological, ethnical, or racial reasons.

The destruction of our culture, includes losses such as language and dialects, stories, heritage, landmarks.

Eating those familiar dried apricots that I’ve enjoyed since childhood—which are labeled as ‘Turkish Apricots’ in Trader Joes and in Yaranoush (my local Armenian market)—now has a very bittersweet meaning for me.

My aunt reflects on Armenians living in Turkey before the Armenian Genocide

March 23, 2010

Last week, I interviewed my aunt to learn about her family and their history in Turkey.

During our conversation I asked her if she speaks any Armenian. She admitted she knows some words, but she doesn’t speak the language.  I mentioned that several other recent interviewees (all children of Armenians from Turkey) also only know a few Armenian words, but they cannot speak the language of our ancestors (neither do I).

Honestly, I’ve been surprised to learn that every Armenian I’ve interviewed told me their parents all spoke fluent Turkish. I knew my grandfather spoke Turkish—he only learned and spoke Armenian when he came to the United States,  after escaping the massacres that claimed his mother’s and sister’s lives. When my grandfather was a boy, Armenians were forbidden to speak their language in Turkey. In fact, my aunt explained that if an Armenian was caught speaking Armenian in Turkey, they risked having their tongue cut out.

The historical memory of the Turkish people 94 years later

December 14, 2009

From “Cultural genocide A bishops’ pilgrimage to Western Armenia,” published in the Armenian Reporter (, December 12, 2009:

“Reflecting on those places, which we either passed by or directly visited, I consider it necessary to single out and stress something that surprised us. Every place that had been an Armenian village, despite its name being changed officially, continued to be known not by its Turkish name, but rather by its old Armenian name. The present residents – Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Alavis – all confirm the fact of their villages being Armenian. And even more, hardly anyone renounced or tried to deny the events of 1915 (olaylar) or the truth of the massacres (katliam). Amazingly some even used the expression “genocide” (soy kirimi) to define the great massacres of 1915.”

Please take a moment to read this article:
Cultural genocide A bishops’ pilgrimage to Western Armenia| Armenian Reporter | December 12, 2009

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