USC Conference to examine ARF’s history and role

This year marks the 120th Anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation—one of the oldest and most influential political organizations in Armenian history. On this occasion, The USC Institute of Armenian Studies and the Armenian Review have organized a public academic conference to examine the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun’s history and ideology, current activities, and future prospects. This daylong event, titled “The ARF at 120: History in the Making,” will begin at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4, and will be held at the Davidson Conference Center on the campus of University of Southern California.

The conference will critically examine such key issues as the socioeconomic aspects of the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s activities in Armenia, the role of women in the ARF, the challenge of functioning as state-based political party and a Diaspora-wide political movement, and assessments of historical developments and issues of current relevance. It will bring together academics, researchers, professionals, and activists from Armenia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, who will present multi-disciplinary analyses of the ARF’s activities to mark its 120th Anniversary.

“Rarely before has an academic conference brought together scholars and practitioners to have an in-depth examination of the ARF—or any other Armenian party for that matter—in a scholarly, academic and critical manner,” said conference co-organizer, Prof. Asbed Kotchikian of Bentley University.

Prof. Kotchikian, who is also the editor in chief of the Armenian Review, pointed out that while this event is far from being an exhaustive analysis of the ARF, it does prepare the groundwork for future research on topics such as the role of women in Armenian political life, and the continued debate on the politics in the Diaspora and in Armenia.

The conference will be comprised of three panels. The first, moderated by Prof. Richard Hovannisian (UCLA), will examine the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s history and the evolution of its socialist and nationist ideology. The panel will feature Prof. Houri Berberian of Cal State Long Beach, Ms. Elke Hartmann of Free University of Berlin, Prof. Ara Sanjian of University of Michigan at Dearborn, and Prof. Khatchik DerGhougassian of Universidad de San Andres, Buenos Aires.

The second panel, moderated by Prof. Stephan Astourian (UC Berkeley), will explore the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s role in Armenian society at large. It will feature Mr. Arsen Stepanyan, the advocacy program manager of Counterpart Armenia, Ms. Maria Titizian, a vice president of Socialist International, Prof. Ara Khanjian of Ventura College, Prof. Levon Chorbajian of UMass at Lowell, and Prof. Viken Yacoubian of Woodbury University.

The third panel, moderated by Khatchig Tölölyan (Wesleyan University), will examine the ARF’s activity over the last few decades within the framework of nation and state. It will feature Mr. Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Mr. Armen Sargsyan, MP of the National Assembly of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Prof. Ohannes Geukjian of the American University of Beirut, and Prof. Kotchikian.

In discussing this critical academic endeavor’s significance, one of the panelists, Prof. Viken Yacoubian, refers to the conference as “an in-depth analysis of a youthful senior.” Indeed, the conference, which sets out to examine the ARF’s role in Armenian political and cultural life, throws a retrospective glance over the last one hundred and twenty years within the greater framework of the party’s ongoing presence, both in Armenia and diaspora communities.

From this perspective, the event promises to provide the opportunity for scholars, activists, and academics to render a slice of political history into political outlook for a more constructive tomorrow.

The event is free of charge and open to the public and will be webcast live on the day of the event on the website below.

For more information, including abstracts, schedules, and panelist biographies, visit www.arf120.com, email arf120@armenianreview.org or call (323) 540-2540.