Armenian weekly- Khachig Mouradian interviews Vahe Tachjian

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16.08.12

Armenian Weekly » Houshamadyan: Recreating Armenian Life in the Ottoman Empire » Print

­
Armenian
Weekly
­
http://www.armenianweekly.com
­

Houshamadyan:
Recreating
Armenian
Life
in
the
Ottoman
Empire Posted
By
Khatchig
Mouradian
On
May
24,
2012
@
12:10
pm
In
Interviews,Opinion
|
2 Comments

An
Interview
with
Vahe
Tachjian
 Historian
Vahé
Tachjian
earned
his
Ph.D.
in
history
and
civilization
at
the
Ecole
des
Hautes Etudes
en
Sciences
Sociales
(EHESS)
in
Paris.
His
research
covers
the
period
of
the
French occupation
of
Cilicia,
Syria,
and
Lebanon
between
World
War
I
and
World
War
II;
the Armenians
in
the
Ottoman
Empire;
refugee
problems
in
the
Middle
East;
and
Kurdish­Armenian relations.
He
has
carried
out
extensive
research
in
archives
in
Paris,
Berlin,
Nantes,
London, Cairo,
Beirut,
Aleppo,
and
Yerevan,
and
is
currently
the
project
director
and
chief
editor
of www.houshamadyan.org,
which
was
created
in
2011
by
the
Berlin­based
Houshamadyan
not­ for­profit
Association,
founded
in
2010.
The
website
aims
is
to
reconstruct
the
daily
life
of
the Ottoman­Armenian
and
his
social
environment
in
all
its
facets.
Articles
and
various
materials about
the
Harput
(Kharpert),
Palu,
and
Marash
regions
have
already
appeared
on
the
website’s pages.
New
articles
and
materials
about
many
other
Armenian­populated
areas
are
in preparation. Tachjian’s
publications
include
La France en Cilicie et en Haute­Mésopotamie. Aux confins de la Turquie, de la Syrie et de l’Irak (Karthala
Editions,
Paris,
2004,
465 pages);
Introduction
and
Notes
to
Ohannès Pacha
Kouyoumdjian,
Le Liban à la veille et au début de la guerre: Mémoires d’un gouverneur, 1913­1915,
with
co­editors Raymond
Kévorkian
and
Michel
Paboudjian (Beirut,
2003);
Les Arméniens, 1917­ 1939. La quête d’un refuge,
with
co­editors Raymond
Kévorkian
and
Lévon
Nordiguian (Presses
de
l’Université
Saint­Joseph, Beirut,
2006,
320
pages);
and
The ‘…our
plan
has
in
view
all
the
provinces
of
the Ottoman
Empire
where
Armenian
community
life Armenian General Benevolent Union: One existed
until
the
beginning
of
the
20th
century.
… Hundred Years of History,
volume
1
(1906­ it
is
our
aim
to
show
the
many
colorful
aspects
of 40)
and
volume
2
(1941­2006)
(AGBU Central
Board
of
Directors,
447
pages, this
rich
life,
to
attempt
to
revitalize
various 2006,
Paris).
His
new
book,
based
on
the different
microcosms
in
villages
and
towns.
We diaries
of
two
Armenian
deportees
(1915­ are
convinced
that
the
more
the
emphasis
is placed
on
life,
on
ways
of
living,
on
local
histories, 18)
from
Ayntab,
is
currently
in
preparation for
publication. the
more
we
will
show
how
great
the
absence
is of
all
that,
the
emptiness—demographic
and Armenian
Weekly
Editor
Khatchig cultural—that
is
still
noticeable,
especially
in Mouradian
recently
conducted
an
interview eastern
Anatolia.’ with
Tachjian
via
e­mail,
about
the Houshamadyan
project. Khatchig
Mouradian—Town
and
village
histories
and
memory
books
written
by
Ottoman­ Armenians
have
long
been
forgotten
by
Armenians—except
for
a
small
group
of
history
buffs and
scholars.
In
Turkey,
they
were
never
part
of
the
discourse
and
were
not
incorporated
into the
historiography.
Houshamadyan
challenges
this
status
quo.
Tell
us
about
the
inception
of this
project
and
its
mission. Vahe
Tachjian—Yes,
the
histories
have
been
both
forgotten
and
ignored,
but
for
different reasons.
It
is
simply
distracting
for
Turkish
official
historiography
to
value
Armenian
books
that, through
local
history,
local
culture,
local
customs,
and
local
characteristics,
turn
the
Ottoman­ Armenian
into
an
inseparable
part
of
the
Ottoman
legacy
(although
the
Armenian
authors
of these
books
did
not
write
the
histories
of
their
villages,
towns,
or
regions
with
that
aim
in mind).
In
any
event,
when
we
use
these
books
as
primary
sources,
it
is
obvious
how
much
can be
learned
through
them,
especially
about
19 th­
and
early
20 th­century
Ottoman
social
and armenianweekly.com/2012/05/24/…/print/

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16.08.12

Armenian Weekly » Houshamadyan: Recreating Armenian Life in the Ottoman Empire » Print

economic
history. Turkish
official
historiography
ignores
Armenian
books
of
this
genre,
simply
because
its
policy
is based
on
a
denial
that
has,
over
many
decades,
seen
the
names
of
formerly
Armenian­ populated
towns
changed,
and
Armenian
community
structures
destroyed.
Attempts
were made—and
continue
to
be
made—to
obliterate
every
trace
of
Armenians
in
formerly
Armenian­ populated
areas.
These
books
are
the
proof
of
a
rich
and
abundant
Armenian
heritage
in
the region. The
question
is
different
when
seen
from
the
Armenian
historiography
point
of
view.
For
a
very long
time
the
focal
point
of
Armenian
historiography
was
the
Armenian
Genocide.
Everything revolved
around
this
date—even
the
pre­1915
history
of
Ottoman­Armenians.
Thus
there
is
a leaning
towards
choosing
the
catastrophic
dates
in
that
history,
such
as
1895­96,
the
years
of the
anti­Armenian
massacres,
or
1909,
the
date
of
the
Adana
massacre.
There
is
also
a tendency
diametrically
opposed
to
this,
which
is
limited
to
the
heroic
acts
performed
by Ottoman­Armenians,
to
the
revaluing
of
rebellions
against
the
Ottoman
government,
and making
them
the
subjects
of
study.
Against
this,
the
Armenian
books
written
about
towns
and villages
present
the
social
life
of
Ottoman
Armenians,
local
micro­history
such
as
their
daily lives
and
the
socio­economic
environment
that
was
immediately
related
to
the
general Ottoman
social
context
and
that,
I
think,
in
the
final
analysis,
are
important
keys
to understanding
all
the
other
events. At
the
same
time,
we
must
approach
books
of
this
genre
carefully.
They
are
often
works written
by
people
who
were
not
specialists.
They
were
written
by
a
generation
that
survived the
genocide,
and
the
spirit
and
concepts
of
those
times
are
very
much
evident
in
them.
They are
often
emotional,
and
an
important
part
of
their
text
has
to
be
put
through
a
sort
of scientific
filter
before
using
them.
Thus
they
may
be
used
more
as
primary
sources;
it
may
not be
very
wise
to
re­publish
them
in
Armenian
and
present
them
to
the
reading
public
without critical
editions
first
being
prepared.
These
kinds
of
re­publications
are
not
only
meaningless, but
also
a
waste
of
money.
In
the
plan
that
Houshamadyan
has
adopted,
we
attempt
to
put the
rich
information
found
in
these
books
into
a
general
Ottoman
context,
preparing
scientific articles
based
on
it
(in
Armenian
and
English),
and
thus
making
it
available
to
all. K.M.—How
does
Houshamadyan
operate?
How
is
its
content
selected
and
organized? V.T.—Houshamadyan
has,
at
present,
one
full­time
researcher:
me.
I
write
articles,
edit others,
take
part
in
the
search
for
pictures
and
photographs
that
illustrate
our
website
pages, and
assist
in
the
preparation
of
maps,
etc.
Houshamadyan
has
a
designer,
Silvina
Der­ Megerditchian,
who
is
responsible
for
the
layout
of
the
pages
and
the
website’s
visual
content. We
also
have
writers,
who
provide
articles
in
return
for
honorariums.
The
articles
are
usually written
in
Armenian
and
translated
into
English.
All
the
articles
are
first
read
by
two
people belonging
to
the
editorial
board;
it
is
then
decided
whether
they
are
worthy
of
being
included
in the
website,
or
if
they
should
be
amended,
or
simply
refused.
The
subjects
of
our
articles
are related
to
multiple
themes
and
cover
a
wide
geographical
area.
Thus
our
plan
has
in
view
all the
provinces
of
the
Ottoman
Empire
where
Armenian
community
life
existed
until
the beginning
of
the
20th
century.
In
other
words,
we
have
not
restricted
ourselves
to
just
the area
of
historic
Armenia,
but
have
encompassed
places
that
are
far
to
the
west,
such
as
Konya, Bardizag,
Yozgat,
and
even
places
in
the
Ottoman­Arab
provinces,
such
as
Jerusalem,
Baghdad, and
Aleppo.
So,
if
our
sources
allow,
it
is
our
plan
to
reflect
the
villagers’
daily
life,
the
social
and economic
history
in
all
these
areas
until
1915.
We
don’t
have
a
special
way
of
choosing subjects
or
places.
We
leave
that
to
the
preferences
of
our
article
writers. K.M.—Who
is
Houshamadyan’s
target
audience? V.T.—When
over
a
year
ago
we
began
the
Houshamadyan
project,
it
was
our
aim
to
create
a trilingual
website—in
English,
Armenian,
and
Turkish.
At
present
we
only
have
the
Armenian and
English
versions.
It
may
be
said
that
the
articles
are
aimed
at
the
Turkish
and
Armenian public.
On
the
one
hand,
without
provocations
and
by
retaining
a
scientific
style,
we
are attempting
to
reflect
on
a
vast,
rich,
and
abundant
life—that
of
the
Ottoman­Armenians. Without
including
the
genocide
phase
in
our
plan,
we
aim
to
show
the
many
colorful
aspects
of this
rich
life,
and
attempt
to
revitalize
various
different
microcosms
in
villages
and
towns.
We are
convinced
that
the
more
emphasis
is
placed
on
their
life,
ways
of
living,
on
local
histories, the
more
we
will
show
how
great
the
absence
is
of
all
that,
the
emptiness—demographic
and cultural—that
is
still
noticeable,
especially
in
eastern
Anatolia.
What’s
lacking,
of
course,
is
the Ottoman­Armenian,
who
is
present
on
our
website
with
his
culture,
customs,
trades,
personal histories,
photographs,
etc.
The
reason
for
the
absence
is
1915,
with
all
of
its
atrocity. armenianweekly.com/2012/05/24/…/print/

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Armenian Weekly » Houshamadyan: Recreating Armenian Life in the Ottoman Empire » Print

On
the
other
hand,
we
are
trying,
on
our
website,
to
present
the
Ottoman­Armenian
in
the most
authentic
way
possible.
It
becomes
obvious
how
close
this
same
Armenian
is,
in
terms
of culture,
customs,
and
traditions,
to
the
“Other,”
in
other
words
to
his
Turkish,
Kurdish,
Arab, Greek,
or
Assyrian
neighbor.
But
this
resemblance
is
often
forgotten
by
Armenians.
The emphasis
is
often
placed
on
the
differences.
The
reason
is
simple:
Armenian
identity
is,
in
many respects,
one
that
has
been
reconstructed
after
the
genocide.
Much
of
the
rich
Ottoman
legacy and
characteristics
that
were,
in
the
years
following
the
genocide,
considered
to
be
Turkish­ Ottoman,
and
therefore
unacceptable
in
the
Armenian’s
“new,”
reconstructed
identity,
have been
thrown
away.
We
are
therefore
convinced
that
for
both
today’s
Armenians
and
the inhabitants
of
Turkey,
the
contents
of
our
website
will
contain
many
new
insights. K.M.—What
material
do
you
seek
to
acquire
for
the
website?
How
can
readers
contribute material
and
content? V.T.—First,
of
course,
is
the
work
we
carry
out,
what
we
do
to
bring
together
the
hundreds
of written
Armenian
sources
about
these
villages
and
towns.
They
are,
very
often,
rare
books
that are
very
difficult
to
obtain.
We
therefore
often
work
on
digitized
versions
of
them.
Collecting photographs
is
also
a
major
task.
Fortunately,
we
have
friends
who
have
large
collections
of Ottoman­Armenian
photographs
and,
at
the
same
time,
believe
in
the
importance
of
our
work and
have
opened
their
rich
collections
to
us.
We
also
turn
to
those
around
us,
asking
them
if they
have
any
old
family
archives.
We
do
the
same
every
time
we
visit
other
countries.
The marvelous
thing
is
that
visitors
to
our
website
take
part
in
this
kind
of
activity;
Houshamadyan has
become
a
structure
that
is
being
built
collectively.
We
often
receive
digitized
photographs, especially
from
the
United
States,
as
well
as
sound
recorded
testimony,
songs,
films,
and
books. We
feel
that
our
readers
are
gradually
giving
more
importance
to
our
work,
especially
when people,
who
are
totally
unknown
to
us,
send
materials
to
our
address
and
make
small donations
through
PayPal.
It
is
this
kind
of
collaboration
and
assistance
that
inspires
us.
It
is they
who
infuse
enthusiasm
in
our
tiring
and
breathless
work. K.M.—If
you
were
to
describe
the
Houshamadyan
website
as
you
would
like
to
see
it,
say,
in five
years,
what
would
it
look
like
in
terms
of
its
content
and
scope? V.T.—We
hope
that
by
then,
through
all
the
articles
on
the
website,
we
will
have
studied
an important
percentage
of
the
Armenian­populated
areas
in
this
vast
geographical
area.
Then
we will
be
the
owners
of
a
huge
wealth
of
information.
Once
we
have
succeeded
in
achieving
this, it
will
be
possible,
using
these
materials,
to
create
publications.
For
example,
it
might
be possible,
taking
only
crafts
as
the
subject,
to
publish
a
book
in
which
the
crafts
carried
on
in different
Armenian­populated
areas
are
shown
with
all
their
individual
characteristics.
Many examples
like
this
could
be
cited.
We
are
also
thinking
of
holding
exhibitions
in
the
future
using our
materials.
And
hope
that
by
then
we
will
have
succeeded
in
creating
Podcasts
using
our materials.
We
find
their
presence
important
in
terms
of
providing
our
website
with
extra vitality.
We
also
hope
that
by
then,
we
will
have
attracted
new
donors,
allowing
us
to
speed
up the
rhythm
of
our
development.
And
finally,
we
are
hopeful
that
we
will
succeed
in
having
a version
of
our
website
in
Turkish,
something
that
has
always
been
one
of
our
priorities,
but that
for
financial
reasons
we
have
not
yet
been
able
to
realize. *** The
Houshamadyan
website
uses
various
multi­media
tools,
such
as
musical
recordings
of historic
value,
oral
history
recordings,
old
photographs,
pictures,
old
film
footage,
and
maps.
For this
reason
a
part
of
our
work
is
collecting
and
preserving
cultural
artifacts
of
all
kinds
produced by
the
Ottoman
Armenians.Readers
can
help
in
reconstructing
this
rich
legacy
by
sending Houshamadyan
various
materials,
including: ­
old
or
family
photographs
from
the
Ottoman
period; ­
books
about
Armenian­populated
villages
or
towns; ­
sound
recordings
of
music; ­
testimonies
(either
written,
audio,
or
video) Readers
can
also
help
develop
and
continue
the
project
by
donating
to
Houshamadyan
e.V., Berliner
str.
101,
13189
Berlin,
Germany. For
more
information,
e­mail
houshamadyan@gmail.com
or
visit
www.houshamadyan.org.

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2
Comments
To
"Houshamadyan:
Recreating
Armenian
Life
in
the Ottoman
Empire" #1
Comment
By
Lori
On
May
28,
2012
@
12:02
pm I’ve
always
wondered
what
life
for
our
ancestors
in
the
Ottoman
empire
must
have
been
like, they
were
clearly
an
important
presence.
However,
stories
of
the
genocide
tend
to
overshadow other
stories
of
day­to­day
lifestyle.
This
is
a
great
resource. #2
Comment
By
Kay
Mouradian
On
June
4,
2012
@
9:30
am Wonderful
work.
Keeps
our
history
alive.

Article
printed
from
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Weekly:
http://www.armenianweekly.com URL
to
article:
http://www.armenianweekly.com/2012/05/24/houshamadyan­ recreating­armenian­life­in­the­ottoman­empire/

Copyright
©
2010
Armenian
Weekly.
All
rights
reserved.

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