Boudjikanian: This book should be available in each Lebanese-Armenian home and in each Diasporan Armenian home, if not in Armenia.
Beirut, April 20, 2010 – On April 9, 2010, a new book entitled Armenians of Lebanon: From Past Princesses and Refugees to Present-Day Community was launched at Haigazian University.
The book contains the proceeding of the multidisciplinary conference "Armenians of Lebanon: Their Past and Present”, held in September 2005, on the occasion of the University’s 50th Anniversary.
The event kicked off amidst a capacity audience, including Minister of State Jean Oghasabian, MPs Hagop Pakradouni, Farid El Khazen and Arthur Nazarian, Bishop Kegham Khatcherian, Rev. Soghomon Kilaghbian, Board members, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and students.
The event began with a short introduction delivered by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Patrick Farajian who stressed on the importance of the work as a research material. He concluded by highly evaluating the mutual “gifts” that Armenians and Lebanon have given each other.
Keynote speaker and editor of the book, Dr. Aida Boudjikanian who came specially from Montreal, Canada, warmly thanked all those who helped her make this book become a reality. She enthusiastically shared how the participants of the conference agreed to publish their papers presented at the conference in a book and how she was honored to be chosen as the editor. “Scholarly studies and books lack on almost every aspect of Armenian existence and history,” Boudjikanian said as she explained the book’s significance, adding that it will be “useful as a tool to launch future research and publications.”
Boudjikanian then proceeded to give her audience a brief glimpse into the content of the book and its fourteen chapters, as diverse in topics as the languages they were written in. She asserted that contributions were kept in their original language, whether it be English, French or Armenian, covering topics ranging from the “Armenians’ well entrenched self-employment in Lebanon” to the “centrality of Lebanon in the Armenian Diaspora.”
She concluded with the hope that this book will show the younger generations “how their grandfathers and great-grandfathers were capable of building this community after 1920 and having their own resurrection.”
Next to speak was Member of Parliament Dr. Farid El Khazen, who celebrated the book as the fruit of Haigazian University’s 50th anniversary conference and expressed his earnest desire that this book be read by both Armenians and Non-Armenians.
In addition to his perspective on the book, he also expanded on the “three broad dimensions of Armenians in Lebanon.” Khazen stressed on the transition of Armenians from refugees to integrated members of Lebanese society, as well as the restructuring of the Armenian political sphere in post-war Lebanon, and finally, the fact that Lebanon is the most prolific in producing Armenian books in the context of the Diaspora after Armenia itself.
After urging that more research needs to be done on the evolution of Armenian institutions in Lebanon, Khazen brought his speech to a close.
This was followed by a short musical interlude, with Shushan Artinian on the cello and Maria Palazian on the piano, beautifully performing “Oror” by Parsegh Ganatchian.
University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian addressed the audience with words of appreciation for everyone involved in the process of creating this book, including the co-publisher, the Armenian Heritage Press, which is part of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). In the spirit of this collaboration, Haidostian revealed that a second book is in the making, again to be co-published with NAASR.
Commenting on Armenians of Lebanon, Haidostian added: “This book, in addition to its various Armenian merits, is to be considered as a chapter in Lebanese history and culture,”
He further stated that the Haigazian Armenological Review, a well-established academic journal, is this year moving towards additional publications in Armenian studies and will soon celebrate its 40th anniversary by publishing its 30th volume.
He concluded with the hopeful statement that “we, in the season of Resurrection, and on the doorsteps of the 95th anniversary of the Genocide, are ready to embrace the future.”
The program ended with a book signing and reception in the Mugar building.