LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies announces the launch of FOCUS ON KARABAKH – a new addition to the Institute’s website.
At Armenian.usc.edu/focus-on-karabakh scholars and researchers can find recent news, analysis and research on Karabakh. Emil Sanamyan, editor of FOCUS ON KARABAKH, explains: “The conflict over Nagorno Karabakh and other territories began in 1988, and is ongoing, even when it is not covered by news media. For close to three decades, with varying intensity, the violence of this conflict has directly impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Azerbaijanis and others caught in the middle. The conflict has also impacted regional development in the quarter century since the Soviet collapse. Much of what is said about this conflict by officials, state-influenced media and even some scholars is dictated by the logic of an “information war.” FOCUS ON KARABAKH is not part of that war. On the contrary, FOCUS ON KARABAKH aims to be a resource, first for researchers, but also for the general public ready to sift through the misunderstandings and biases.”
The site features recent scholarship on the conflict, as well as an archive of the important documents related to the conflict, with the aim of becoming a comprehensive resource for young scholars, academics and policy makers.
“The four-day war in April 2016 was the most recent and most stark escalation of the conflict since the signing of the cease-fire in 1994,” said Salpi Ghazarian, director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies. “In the days following the conflict, it became clear that any effort at a meaningful, lasting peace agreement will be hampered by the absence of a serious body of literature that lays out the historic and political causes of the conflict, its evolution, the various efforts at resolution and reasons for their collapse, possible paths to resolution based on the political and security concerns of all sides, as well as approaches to managing and resolving violent conflict in the international context. Diplomats depend on the expertise of scholars and analysts to understand viable options. So the Institute, with the support of a generous foundation, set out to support scholars and analysts who study Karabakh, and created this web resource to make that scholarship accessible.”
The site is a work in progress. New additions will be made even as current events and issues are analyzed. Links to existing research and analysis will be accompanied by original material by scholars from around the world.
Sanamyan explains one of the obstacles facing scholars and, therefore, the FOCUS ON KARABAKH site, “Scholarly access to the Azerbaijani side, not only but especially for scholars of Armenian descent, is at worst non-existent, at best severely restricted. This reality hampers scholarship and necessarily limits anyone’s ability to study the issue from the Azerbaijani side.”
Another challenge is the availability of some data and sources in Russian only. “That is one of the purposes of the site,” says Syuzanna Petrosyan, Associate Director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies. “We will work to provide access to this rarely accessed data, through translations and summaries. Our mission is to improve the information field on Karabakh and to support the work of those trying to help us all understand the complexities. If this were a conflict with a simple solution, it would have been resolved during these three decades. It is not. Our duty as a center of scholarship is to broaden the knowledge base to enable the practitioners to seek new paths – especially since next year, 2018, will mark the 30th anniversary of the start of this conflict.”
FOCUS ON KARABAKH is the first installment of what will be an online Armenian Studies Hub. Similar approaches will be used to focus on the Republic of Armenia, the Diaspora, and the post-Genocide experience. In each section, research, reports, analyses and bibliographies will be available, as well as information about current research.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies site includes information about the Institute’s mission, events and programs, student activities, courses offered and video recordings of all Institute programs.