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The Stateless Diplomat: Diana Apcar's Heroic Life

The Stateless Diplomat: Diana Apcar

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA presents a special screening of "The Stateless Diplomat," featuring a conversation with director Mimi Malayan and historian Meline Mesropyan about the life and work of Diana Apcar, the Honorary Consul to Japan of the short-lived First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920). This event is co-sponsored by the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM (Pacific Time)

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Author, businesswoman, activist, humanitarian and diplomat, Diana Apcar single-handedly rescued countless Armenian Genocide survivors, enabling them to start new lives thousands of miles from their homeland.

After the Armenian Genocide, there was an exodus of survivors, traveling north into Russia, then east across Siberia to Harbin and Vladivostok. Trying to make their way to the United States, these refugees first needed to get to Japan. Unfortunately, in 1917 Japan did not have a refugee policy. However, thanks to Diana's guarantees and the trust and respect that Japanese officials held for her, Armenian Genocide survivors were provided access to Japan. Meline Mesropyan, Ph.D., will present her detailed research into Japanese archives, revealing this phenomenal story. Her presentation will elucidate the Japanese refugee policy of the time and its background. She will also shed light on the estimated number of Armenian refugees arriving in Japan between 1915-1930, the kinds of problems they faced—such as issues with passports, travel documents, and visas—and Diana's role in helping them.

The film, The Stateless Diplomat, conveys the pivotal moments in Diana's life: her awakening to the Armenian cause, her spiritual vision prompting her into activism, her mental collapse and frustration as she foresaw the Genocide, and her endless humanitarian work, personally aiding thousands of Genocide survivors.

Diana's accomplishments exceeded all reasonable expectations for one lifetime, and yet she did this as a single woman, in a far-off land, over one hundred years ago.

 

Mimi Malayan has practiced landscape architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years, focusing her professional career on urban parks, plazas, and playground design. While she is mostly retired, she continues to teach at the Academy of Art University.

In 2002 while cleaning her uncle’s apartment, Mimi discovered a box of papers and books by Diana Apcar. This was the seed that unraveled another interest — uncovering her great-grandmother’s life story. A decade later, Mimi started researching Diana’s life and accomplishments. The more she investigated the more awe struck she became. The result of this work is the film, The Stateless Diplomat, which was released in November 2018. Since then, Mimi has shown the film at several film festivals, and it has won several awards, including: Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award (Arpa International Film Festival, 2019), Best Biographical Film (New Hope Film Festival, July 2019), and Audience Choice for Best Documentary (Pomegranate Film Festival, November 2018).

 

Meline Mesropyan, Ph.D., was born and raised in Yerevan Armenia and initially earned her bachelor's degree in Japanese linguistics. She is a fellow researcher at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of International Culture in Sendai and a lecturer at Hyogo University in Kobe, Japan. She has spent the last 8 years researching the life and work of Diana Apcar. Her Ph.D. dissertation, written in Japanese and making extensive use of Japanese archival data, dealt with the Japanese government’s processing of Armenian refugees during WW1 and Diana Apcar’s role in this. She lives in Kobe, Japan and is currently working on 3 projects one of which is developing her Ph.D. dissertation into a book on the life and work of Diana Apcar. 

 

 



Sponsor(s): The Promise Armenian Institute, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA Center for the Study of Women