The ongoing wars in several parts of our beautiful planet have taken their toll on our humanity. Sometimes, unexpected but awaited news of the killing/ demise of someone who believed in democracy desperately shakes me- such was the news that prompted this post.
I am a librarian and not a politician; I serve students, faculty, and members of the public. But this morning, a Russian colleague from the Russian Federation alerted me that “it is finally done, and it was to be expected, and that we are going to hell.” It was early morning, and I could not understand until I read the famous/infamous NY Times online. The news told me that Aleksei Navalny was no more…I looked for Kira to post something, but she did not.
As a librarian, I gather information and do not engage in academic debates about just-in-time or just-in-case types of collections. I do not have ideological views on what we collect (I do have personal views; the cloak of American librarianship ethics separates them from my work).
For example, what does this book teach us?
Besides books, I debated whether I should post the following documentary. After all, I might get banned from visiting Russia, and for a Slavic Librarian, it is a big no-no… Then I decided why not; it was Aleksei’s documentary, and one should choose to watch it. After all, as a proud Indian-American Slavic Studies Librarian blessed by UC Berkeley’s Academic freedom doctrine, I remain grateful to the United States Constitution for guaranteeing some fundamental freedoms–Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of…Queda mucho por aprender
Ruling Together: Consultation and Collaboration in the Political Regimes of Premodern Eurasia
February 16, 2024
Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley
Organized by Tang Center for Silk Road Studies
The conference focuses on the medieval and early modern periods (1000-1700 CE) as a crucial era for cross-cultural contact, challenging the lesser emphasis this period has received within “Silk Road” scholarship. It argues that viewing Eurasia merely as a space of intermittent object and idea exchange through trade or diplomacy depoliticizes cultural and goods spread, which is inadequate for understanding the political dynamics of these centuries dominated by the Mongol Empire and its successors. Emphasizing the role of political institutions in transregional history, the conference aims to integrate the study of cross-cultural contact with political history, highlighting Central Asia’s significance in the global political history of the medieval and early modern periods.
8:30 Tea and Coffee
9:00 Welcome Remarks
Who Should Rule? Institutions of Sovereignty and Succession
9:15 Christopher Atwood, University of Pennsylvania
The First Interregnum: Imperial Stake Holders in a (Temporarily) Khan-less World
9:45 Michael Bechtel, Nazarbaev University
Mongol Empire 1229-46: Frameworks of Rule and Redistribution (Related article is here)
10:15 Jonathan Brack, Northwestern University
Chinggisid Family Feuds, Islamization, and the Religious Sphere in Mongol-ruled Iran
10:45 Evrim Binbaş, University of Bonn
The Theater of Constitutional Ideas: The First Timurid Civil War and Shahrukh’s Ascension to Timur’s Throne
11:45 Lunch break
How to Rule? Transcontinental Institutions
1:30 Carol Fan, University of Bonn
Revenue sharing networks within the Mongol Empire and transregional contacts
across Eurasia in the 13th and 15th centuries
2:00 Paehwan Seol, Chonnam National University
The Jarghu: Mobile Courts and Justice Networks of the Mongols throughout East-
West Asia during the 13th to 14th Centuries
2:30 Natalia Królikowska, University of Warsaw
Numerous Nogay peoples, the Circassians and innumerable Tatars’ influence on the decision-making process in the Crimean khanate.
3:30 Tea and Coffee
What is Ruling? Conceptualizing State and Empire
3:45 David Sneath, University of Cambridge
The Lords’ Administration: Mongolian aristocratic governance and the state as social
4:15 Munkh-Erdene Lhamsüren, National University of Mongolia
The Chinggisid Sovereignty: Myth, Archetype, and Transformation (see similar article here)
4:45 Kaveh Hemmat, Benedictine University
Rule of Law in Islamicate Civic Lore Concerning the Mongol Empire and China
The above image is from one of the pages of the Gladzor Armenian Manuscripts. It was used last year at the 2023 graduate student colloquium
Royce Hall 314
Friday, February 16th, 2024
9:30 a.m.-10:00 Breakfast
10:00-10:10 Opening Remarks
Director of the 2024 Graduate Student Colloquium in Armenian Studies (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA)
Dr. S. Peter Cowe
Narekatsi Professor of Armenian Studies (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA)
Panel 1: Contemporary Policy in the Armenian Republic
Chair: Lori Pirinjian (UCLA)
10:10-10:30 Arev Papazian “Fishing Ban on Lake Sevan in Post-Soviet Armenian Republic” (Central European University, Vienna)
Read about the fishing ban here: https://www.azatutyun.am/a/32742178.html
Panel 2: Modern Political Developments Chair: Lori Pirinjian (UCLA)
10:40-11:00 Orhun Yalcin, “The ARF in the Ottoman Empire” (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
11:00-11:20 Kima Saribekyan, “Cilicia under the French Mandate” (Peter Pazmeny Catholic University, Budapest)
11:20-11:40 Nils Berliner, “Armenian Genocide in Germany” (Technical University of Berlin)
11:40-12:00 Levon-Leonidas Ntilsizian, “Aspects of Greece’s state policy towards the Armenian community in Greece (1945-1975)” (Panteion University, Athens)
12:25-12:45 Coffee/Tea Break
Panel 3: Early Modern Armenian Communities
Chair: Martin Adamian (UCLA)
12:45-1:05 Andranik Nahapetian, “The Armenian Colony of Nor Nakhichevan” (Free University of Berlin)
1:05-1:25 Andranik Yesayan, “Demographic Transformations in Armenian Peripheral Canton Tavush Under Safavid and Ottoman Rule (1600-1725)” (Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia)
1:40-3:00 Lunch Break
Panel 4: Armenian Literary Practices in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages Chair: Nora Bairamian (UCLA)
3:00-3:20 Lorenzo Colombo, “Censorship Greek-Armenian” (Universities of Pisa and Geneva)
3:40-4:00 Hayarpi Hakobyan, “Medieval Armenian Book Production in the Lake Van Region in 1275-1350: Scriptoria, scribes, manuscripts” (Martin Luther University of Halle- Wittenberg)
4:15-4:35 Tea/Coffee Break
Panel 5: Medieval Trade across the Northern Hemisphere Chair: Arpi Melikyan (UCLA)
4:35-4:55 Francesca Cheli, “Chinese Pottery Imports” (University of Florence)
Panel 6: 19th century Socio-Cultural Developments
Chair: Alexia Hatun (UCLA)
5:05-5:15 Aram Ghoogasian, “Learning to Read in the mid-19th Century” (Princeton University)
5:15-5:35 Emma Avagyan, “19th century Armenian-Jewish Revitalization” (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
5:35-5:55 Nazelie Doghramadjian, “Armenian Women’s Archives” (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
6:20-6:35 Guest Speaker
Professor Shushan Karapetian
Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies, USC
6:35-8:00 Reception (Royce Hall 306)
Co-sponsored by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA Promise Armenian Institute, UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, UCLA Center for Early Global Studies, UCLA Center for the Study of Religion, UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture, UCLA Department of Classics, UCLA Leve Center for Jewish Studies, UCLA History Department.
For further details, please consult the website <nelc.ucla.edu>.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues without a meaningful resolution in sight, Ukrainians continue to document the stories of Russian aggression in their country. One such project is Svidok. Svidok (свідок) means witness. The bilingual multimedia website allows Ukrainians to record their stories associated with Russian aggression. The purpose of recording is not only documenting their everyday lives but also to bear witness to history as it unfolds in their independent nation-state.
Below is a three-part screenshot of the Svidok’s website. The website also has a memorial board for the fallen heroes and the civilian victims.
Svidok’s self-description is below,
Svidok is your personal war journal. Where you can safely and securely store your experiences of living through the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and collect evidence of all the atrocities and war crimes that were committed by the Russians.
Svidok has been built by Ukraine’s proud citizens and friends in partnership with the AI for Good Foundation to ensure the truth of this war is accurately documented.
Свідок – це ваш особистий щоденник війни. Ви можете безпечно та надійно зберігати свій досвід життя під час російського вторгнення в Україну та збирати докази всіх звірств та військових злочинів, які були скоєні росіянами.
Свідок був створений щирими громадянами та друзями України у партнерстві з Фундацією AI for Good, щоб гарантувати, що правда цієї війни буде точно задокументована.
Recently in light of Russian invasion of Ukraine, with almost everything Russian being canceled in society at large, I wanted to bring to our readers’ attention a new digital resource on the Collection of laws and orders of the government of the RSFSR and the USSR. The resource is in Russian, and it was created by the Elektronnaia biblioteka istoricheskikh dokumentov (Электронная библиотека исторических документов).
The source provides access to digital copies of the laws and various orders of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic and Soviet Union. I hope historians of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation will find this resource of academic interest.
One can search within the text using specific keywords.
Center for Research Libraries in collaboration with the Global Press Archive of East View has released its latest digital collection of select Soviet-Era Ukrainian Newspaper. The collection can be accessed here: https://gpa.eastview.com/crl/seun/ or here
About the collection:
The early 20th century was a crucial time in Ukraine’s history, marked by attempts to establish an independent state, leading to the Ukrainian War of Independence. This conflict resulted in the creation of two countries by 1922: the Second Polish Republic in western Ukraine and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the rest of the country.
Following this, rapid Soviet collectivization in the Ukrainian SSR triggered the Holodomor, a famine that began in 1932 and claimed millions of lives.
The Soviet-Era Ukrainian Newspapers (SEUN) collection, with over 50,000 pages and five titles, documents Ukraine’s history during this turbulent period, including events leading up to WWII. It includes newspapers from Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv, featuring content in both Ukrainian and Russian.
The Library has purchased the Digital Archive of a Soviet film magazine: Sovetskii Ekran. The archive provides access to the full-text of journal issues that were published from 1925-1998.
Below is the screenshot of the landing page of the Sovietskii Ekran.
At the time of writing this blog, the digitization of issues was completed through 1970 and the additional digitization was in progress.
About the journal:
Soviet Screen was a magazine in the USSR that ran from 1925 to 1998 (with a break from 1941 to 1957). It talked about movies, both from the Soviet Union and other countries, cinema history, and had articles critiquing films. They also had reader polls each year to pick the best film, actor, actress, film for children, and music film.
The magazine had different names over the years, like Screen Film Gazeta in 1925, Cinema and Life in 1929–1930, Proletarian Cinema from 1931–1939, and Screen from 1991–1997. Before 1992, it was connected to the Union of Cinematographers of the USSR State Committee for Cinematography and the USSR.
In 1984, they printed 1.9 million copies. In 1991, the editor was Victor Dyomin, and the magazine was published under the title: Screen. It started coming out less often, monthly instead of more frequently. It kept going as Screen Magazine until 1997, then for a few months in 1997-1998, it went back to its old name-Soviet Screen. But it couldn’t survive the financial troubles in 1998 and had to stop publishing (Source: Wikip.).
At the library, we have set up a thirty-day trial of Znamia Digital Archive through November 18, 2023.
The extensive archive of Znamia (Знамя, Banner), a highly regarded Soviet/Russian “thick journal” (tolstyi zhurnal), covers more than nine decades and is a rich source of intellectual and artistic contributions. This monthly publication has been a vibrant platform for literature, critical analysis, philosophy, and, at times, political commentary.
Originally introduced in January 1931 as LOKAF (Локаф), an acronym for the Literary Association of the Red Army and Navy, the journal officially adopted the name Znamia, which translates to “Banner” in English, in 1933. Throughout its history, Znamia has played a crucial role in presenting the works of renowned authors such as Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Tvardovsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Konstantin Paustovsky, Yuri Kazakov, and Yuri Trifonov.
During the era of Perestroika, starting in 1986, Znamia underwent a significant transformation and became one of Russia’s most widely read literary journals, serving as a herald of the Perestroika movement.
- Sarah Aponte; Chief Librarian, Dominican Studies Institute, CUNY
- Dr. Irma Guadarrama, former professor/ researcher and writer at Houston University–author of a 2023 book, “To Change the Impossible World: Central American Women in Struggle and Resistance.”
- Kathia Salome Ibacache, Librarian for Romance Languages
- David Woken, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian, University of Chicago
National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Webinar 2023 at UC Berkeley Library
Today Milan Kundera passed, and the whole literary world grieved; likewise, I grieved. I often ask myself why some deaths get marked albeit more while the others, such as those of migrants who drowned on their way to Europe or the Honduran female inmates who were killed in prison, were forgotten by many.
I believe life and death are part of being human or animate. When I heard the news of passing Professor Richard Hovannisian of Armenian History at UCLA yesterday, I grieved. In the Winter of 2002, when many of the UCLA classes were full and as a transfer student-immigrant, I had no idea what class in History I should enroll in as UCLA felt like an Indian jungle; Professor Hovanissian came out of new and suggested, I take his class on Armenian History. He also mentioned that although his class was full, he would gladly have an extra-Indian voice. I am forever grateful to him for admitting me to a course that opened the door to a new cultural, civilizational, and linguistic experience. His teaching style and compassion have remained with me to this day, for he was my first university professor. He was always supportive of my work as a professional librarian at UCLA. We have all his books
RIP Professor Hovannisian
Here is the obituary Professor Bedros de Matossian wrote on the Society of Armenian Studies email list.
“On July 10, the Society for Armenian Studies, the academic world, the field of Armenian Studies, and the Armenian nation lost one of the most prominent icons of the modern period: Prof. Richard G. Hovannisian (1932-2023). Hovannisian was a monumental figure in the field of Armenian Studies. Considered as the Dean of Modern Armenian History, he established the field of Modern Armenian History in the Western Hemisphere. He supported the establishment of some of the most important chairs in Armenian Studies in the United States. Hovannisian was the child of Genocide survivors. His father, Kaspar Gavroian, was born in in the village of Bazmashen near Kharpert in 1901. Unlike others, he survived the Genocide and arrived in the U.S. He changed his last name from Gavroian to Hovannisian after his father Hovannes. In 1928 Kaspar married Siroon Nalbandian, the child of Genocide survivors. They had four sons: John, Ralph, Richard, and Vernon. Richard was born in Tulare, California, on November 9, 1932. Being the son of Genocide survivors played an important role in his academic path. In 1957, he married Dr. Vartiter Kotcholosian in Fresno and had four children: Raffi, Armen, Ani, and Garo. Raffi would become the first Minister of Foreign Affairs (1991-1992) of the Modern Republic of Armenia.
Hovannisian began his academic life in 1954 by earning a B.A. in History, followed by an M.A. in History from the University of California, Berkley. In 1966, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His dissertation was published in 1967 with the title Armenia on the Road to Independence which was the precursor to the four-volume magnum opus The Republic of Armenia. Hovannisian played an important role in establishing the teaching of Armenian history at UCLA. In 1987, he became the first holder of the Armenian Education Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, which after his retirement was named in his honor as the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, with Prof. Sebouh Aslanian as its first incumbent.
Hovannisian was a Guggenheim Fellow and received numerous prestigious national and international awards for his service to the field and civic activities. He served on the Board of Directors of multiple national and international educational institutions and was a member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. After finishing his four-volume The Republic of Armenia, he dedicated his research and career to battling the denial of Armenian Genocide, resurrecting the history of Armenian towns and villages of the Armenian Provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and writing textbooks on modern Armenian history. Although not a scholar of Armenian Genocide, he has contributed more to the discipline than many others in the field. He edited multiple volumes on different facets of the Armenian Genocide, including historical, literary, and artistic perspectives. Hovannisian also spearheaded a monumental project to preserve the eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide survivors.
In the 1970s, he launched the Armenian Genocide oral history project. He and his students interviewed more than 1,000 Armenian Genocide survivors in California. In 2018, Hovannisian donated the collection to the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive to be available to scholars around the world. He single-handedly edited and published 15 volumes with Mazda Press as part of the UCLA Armenian History & Culture Series. The 15 volumes covered the history of Armenians in Van/Vaspourakan, Cilicia (with Simon Payaslian), Sivas/Sepastia, Trebizond/Trabzon, Baghesh/Bitlis, Taron/Mush, Smyrna/Izmir, Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia among other places. The final book in the series, The Armenians of Persia/Iran, was published in 2022. Hovannisian’s also edited the two-volume The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, which is considered a classic Armenian History textbook.
Hovannisian came from a generation that fought against the stifling of Armenian voices within the fields of Middle Eastern and Ottoman Studies, which had relegated Armenian Studies to second-class status. He fought for the relevance of Armenian Studies within these fields and tirelessly fought against the efforts to marginalize Armenian issues and to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Besides his contribution to the field, Hovannisian also mentored and educated multiple generations of scholars and thousands of students. He was a strict mentor who demanded that his students work to reach their full potential. He wanted to make sure that they would survive and thrive in the tough terrain of the academic job market.
In his lifetime, Hovannisian was especially influenced by two people: his wife Vartiter and Simon Vratsian (the last Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia). Vartiter was his life’s partner for more than half a century. Her dedication to Richard and the field of Armenian Studies played an important role in shaping who Richard became. Vartiter was an intellectual companion who read and reviewed every piece that he wrote. She was also a constant presence at every conference he planned or attended. In the early 1950s, Vratsian, the author of a major book on the First Republic, became Hovannisian’s mentor when he studied Armenian language at the Hamazkayin Nishan Palanjian Jemaran in Beirut, Lebanon. This influence led Hovannisian to write the first academic work on the First Republic of Armenia and created the first step for his academic career.
In 1974, Hovannisian along with Dickran Kouymjian, Nina Garsoïan, Avedis Sanjian, and Robert Thomson spearheaded the project to establish a Society for Armenian Studies (SAS). Considered as the pillars of Armenian Studies, the main objective of this group was the development of Armenian Studies as an academic discipline. With access to very limited resources, this group of scholars was able to establish the foundations of a Society that would play a dominant role in developing Armenian Studies in North America and beyond. From a handful of chairs and programs that supported the initiative at the time, today Armenian Studies as a discipline has flourished in the United States with more than thirteen chairs and programs providing their unconditional support to the Society. Hovannisian was the president of SAS for three terms (1977, 1991-1992, 2006-2009). During his tenure the Society flourished and achieved major accomplishments in the field.
In 2019, the Society for Armenian Studies awarded Hovannisian with the SAS Life Time Achievement Award in recognition and appreciation for his outstanding service and contribution to the field of Armenian Studies.
Hovannisian’s legacy will remain for generations to come.
Our hearts go out to his family and beloved ones.
Obituary by Bedross Der Matossian
Past President of SAS (2018-2022)
University of Nebraska, Lincoln”