Matthew Ghazarian received his PhD from Columbia University's Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies in 2021. His research focuses on the late Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East, exploring the intersections of environmental history, political economy, and communal conflict. His dissertation, "Ghost Rations," examines the development of the conflicts that tore apart the multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Ottoman Empire. Suffering, unequally borne, radicalized notions of belonging and exacerbated communal tensions, sowing the seeds for violence to come. Ghazarian also contributes to an Ottoman History Podcast and has taught in the Armenian Studies program and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley.
“I focus on the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century because it was a period of transformations that began with a Sultanic declaration of religious equality (1839) and ended with a dramatic wave of communal violence, the Hamidian Massacres (1894-97). My project studies the central role of material conditions – hunger, debt, drought, and inequality – in putting new ideas about difference and belonging into practice. By focusing on famine and debt in rural areas, I trace new histories of sectarianism, environment, and violence in the Middle East.”
Helen Makhdoumian received her PhD in English from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, Makhdoumian also earned a minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies as well as certificates through the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (HGMS) and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. From 2015-18, she co-organized the Future of Trauma and Memory Studies, an interdisciplinary graduate student and faculty member reading group on campus. She regularly contributed to Days and Memory, the HGMS blog, and her articles have appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Studies in American Indian Literatures, and the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies. In addition to teaching literature and composition courses at the University of Illinois, Makhdoumian held administrative appointments as a Peer Mentor for New Instructors, Digital Literacies Coordinator, and an Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Rhetoric Program as well as an Assistant Director of the campus writing center.
“My research centers the category of indigeneity to reframe questions of place, space, movement, and belonging articulated in transnational and transcultural memory studies. To that end, I develop a connective study of how memories of dispossession and removal travel across time, generations, and geographies. I do so through a contrapuntal study of contemporary Armenian American, Palestinian American, and American Indian/First Nations novels and memoirs.”