The King and the Forty Orphans: The Invention of an Armenian Homeland in Ethiopia

The King and the Forty Orphans:  The Invention of an Armenian Homeland in Ethiopia

A talk by Boris Adjemian, Director of AGBU Nubar Library (Paris)

Thursday, October 12, 2017
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Room 1420, UCLA School of Law
UCLA

In 1924, the Crown Prince and Regent of Ethiopia Ras Täfäri Mäkonnen (the future Emperor Hayle Sellasie) recruited forty young Armenian orphans to found the first Ethiopian royal brass band. Kevork Nalbandian, the director of this band, was asked by the Crown Prince to write the first Ethiopian national anthem. Boris Adjemian interrogates the meaning of such an event in the history and the memory of Armenian immigration to Ethiopia.

Armenian immigration to Ethiopia started in the late nineteenth century, although Armenian travellers had already benefited in the past centuries of the close relationship existing between the Ethiopian and Armenian Churches. Throughout the twentieth century, Armenian immigrants and their descendants in Ethiopia demonstrated their deep integration into the host society. Focused on the leitmotiv that Armenians were, among all the foreigners, the closest to Ethiopia and Ethiopian rulers, the idealized great narrative of Armenian immigration remaps Ethiopia as a genuine homeland of substitution for a people in exile.

Boris Adjemian is a historian and the director of AGBU Nubar Library (Paris). He is also the editor-in-chief of the bilingual academic journal Études arméniennes contemporaines. He defended his Ph.D. in 2011 at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Università degli Studi di Napoli. His book, La fanfare du négus : les Arméniens en Éthiopie (19e-20e siècles), was published by Editions de l’EHESS in 2013.

Cost : Free and open to the public

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Center for Near Eastern Studies, The Richard G. Hovannisian Chair in Modern Armenian History