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Introductory Comments on the State of Armenian Studies Project

Prepared by Prof. Gerard Libaridian
January 2012

The origin of the idea...

The “State of Armenian Studies Project” was conceived in the Center for Armenian Studies (CAS) of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2006. As the prospect for new funding for the program increased, we faced the challenge of determining where new financial resources should be placed. It was obvious that we lacked a comprehensive study that could answer the question.

In the absence of a document to which we could refer to determine priorities, the Executive Committee of the CAS  (Professors Kathryn Babayan, Kevork Bardakjian, Ronal Suny and Gerard Libaridian, director) produced a program that is now in place: support for graduate students in the field, the reestablishment of visiting scholars, the establishment of post-doctoral positions, the initiation of an annual international workshop built around a theme that would bring together graduate students from around the world, including Armenia, with senior scholars, and international conferences. (The University already had two endowed chairs and significant support for library acquisitions related to the field. CAS too had some funds for designated projects.) But it was clear that we lacked a larger framework within which to situate our decisions; it was also evident that other scholars and institutions too lacked such a framework that would look at the present and the future of Armenian studies.

During the past decades a number of conferences and colloquia have been held at various institutions in the United States and Europe that offered a view of the development of Armenian Studies. Prominent among these are the conferences held every five years by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (established in 1955 in Cambridge, Mass., and currently in Belmont, Mass.) Consecutive presentations by chair holders and leading scholars at these conferences provide a solid overview of progress made in the filed, especially in the United States.

The idea of a panoramic report on the field of study known as Armenian Studies, formulated by the Executive Committee, was accepted with enthusiasm by the Steering Committee of the Center for Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition to the members of the CAS Executive Committee, the Steering Committee of the program includes the chairs of the History and Near Eastern Studies Departments, where the endowed chairs are based, the directors of the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS).