Professor Richard Hovannisian has focused on the 90th anniversary of the destruction of Smyrna/Izmir and its Armenian Community in 1922 in his speaking engagements during the Fall Term. Smyrna, with Constantinople, boasted the most vibrant Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, both culturally and economically. Hovannisian has prepared a power point presentation on the historical Armenian presence in the city and its destruction in the Great Fire four days after the Turkish army entered Smyrna on September 9, 1922. The publication of Hovannisian’s most recent volume in the UCLA series of Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces, titled Armenian Smyrna/Izmir: The Aegean Communities, has coincided with the sad anniversary.
Dr. Hovannisian first presented Armenian Smyrna/Izmir to a capacity audience of students, faculty, and community members at Chapman University in Orange County on September 6. He served as a distinguished Chancellor’s Fellow at Chapman during the Fall Semester, during which he taught a fifteen-week course on the Armenian Genocide for history majors. This talk was followed by others under the sponsorship of Boston University, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, and the First Armenian Church in Belmont, Massachusetts (September 27); Fresno State University (October 5); St. Mary Armenian Church, Washington, DC (October 28); AGBU, Montreal (November 1); AGBU, Toronto (November 2); Armenians of Colorado (November 18); Oxford University (November 22); Hamazkayin Cultural Association, London (November 24); and Berlin Hay Hamaynk—Armenische Gemeinde zu Berlin (November 25). During this period, he also participated in an international conference at Woodman University (October 27) on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Hnchakian party, with a paper on the role of the party during the first Armenian republic.
Hovannisian will bring the story of Armenian Smyrna to Los Angeles on Thursday, January 31, in a program at the Zorayan Museum of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank, sponsored by the Diocese, NAASR, and the Ararat Eskijian Museum. Subsequent engagements are scheduled for Scandinavia and South America.
Richard Hovannisian was honored in special ceremonies at St. Leon’s Cathedral on November 11. Received at the request of his Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, an encyclical from Holy Echmiadzin was read by Bishop Armash Nalbandian of Damascus on the occasion of Hovannisian’s birthday. The church services were followed by a reception hosted by the Armenian Bar Association, during which felicitations were extended by ABA President Garo Ghazarian, Raffi K. Hovannisian, who had flown from Armenia for the occasion, and by their eminences Hovnan Derderian, Vatche Hovsepian, Armash Nalbandian, and Yeprem Tabakian, to which Richard Hovannisian responded with words of appreciation to His Holiness Garegin II, Archbishop Hovnan, and the Armenian Bar Association.
At the same time, from November 9 through 11, a three-day international conference organized by Professor Sebouh Aslanian at UCLA on “Port Cities and Printers: Five Centuries of Global Armenian Print,” was dedicated to Richard Hovannisian. The opening remarks by Aslanian, recently-appointed holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation’s Richard Hovannisian Chair of Modern Armenian History, were followed by Hovannisian’s brief reflections on his career and thanks to the University for a smooth transition without interruption in the Armenian history program at UCLA.
The Armenian National Committee, Eastern Region, honored Richard Hovannisian with the Vahan Cardashian award during a gala banquet in northern New Jersey on December 1. Baroness Caroline Cox was presented with the Humanitarian Award for her long years of service to the Armenian cause. In his remarks after a thoughtful introduction by Marc Mamigonian, NAASR Director of Academic Affairs, Hovannisian drew attention to the legacy of Vahan Cardashian, who in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide was the foremost activist in the United States and the driving force behind the bipartisan American Committee for the Independence of Armenia (ACIA).
Professor Hovannisian has been invited by the Maison de la Culture Armènienne of Alfortville (Paris) and Lyon, France, from December 13 through 17, as the featured and honored author of the year. He will be presented by scholar Dzovinar Kevonian and will deliver three community lectures during this period.
During the Winter Quarter of 2013, Richard Hovannisian has been invited by the University of California, Irvine, as a distinguished lecturer to offer a course on Modern Armenian History.