ANN ARBOR, MI — Armenian Studies Program at University of Michigan is presenting a lecture by Vahe Sahakyan titled “Immigrants into ‘Ethnic’ – Americans: Negotiating Race, Language, Religion and Belongings” on Wednesday January 18, 2017, 4-6pm at 1636 International Institute
1080 S. University Ave. Ann Arbor.

Problematizing the linear approach to immigrant integration and assimilation, this lecture will explore the dynamic processes of identity negotiations among immigrants and their descendants during the period between the 1890s and 1930s. In a time of intensifying fears around newcomers and their negative impact on American identity and culture, immigrants endured prejudice and discrimination, voluntarily and involuntarily engaging in the Americanization process.

Through a comparative perspective, this lecture will focus on Armenian immigrants and the institutions they founded in America to demonstrate how in the processes of negotiating race, language, religion and belongings, they produced distinct forms of Americanness and Armenianness.

Complicating the concepts of ethnicity and nation, this lecture will bring to bear the lived collective experiences and voices of immigrants to highlight alternative spaces of belonging that move beyond idealized identities.

Vahe Sahakyan Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, U-M, he received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in 2015. Dr. Sahakyan is broadly interested in the dialectics of empire and nation, and the movements and circulation of people, discourses and resources across imperial and national boundaries.

By placing the Armenian experiences in a comparative and transnational perspectives, his dissertation and several articles in progress, highlight the alternative forms and spaces of belonging, multiplicity of identities and discourses on homeland, ethnicity and nation, as they emerge within and beyond imperial and national contexts in the processes of intellectual exchanges, migrations and diasporization.

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