Sebouh Aslanian to direct new Armenian Studies Center
UCLA historian Sebouh Aslanian. (Credit: AGBU WebTalks).

Sebouh Aslanian to direct new Armenian Studies Center

Aslanian will work to build significantly on the university's more than 50 years of Armenian studies at the new center, which is part of The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA.

UCLA International Institute, May 8, 2020 — The UCLA International Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of the inaugural director of the Armenian Studies Center housed within The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, Sebouh Aslanian, professor of history and Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History. 

Professor Aslanian is author of the award-winning book, “From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa” (University of California, 2011), as well as numerous scholarly articles on Armenian history and Armenian studies.

His recent articles and book chapters include “‘Many Have Come Here and Have Deceived Us’: Some Notes on Asateur Vardapet (1644–1728), An Itinerant Armenian Monk in Europe,” Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift Fur Armenische Philologie (2019); “Une vie sur plusieurs continents: Microhistoire globale d’un agent arménien de la Compagnie des Indes orientales, 1666–1688,” Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales (2018); “From ‘Autonomous’ to ‘Interactive’ Histories: World History’s Challenge to Armenian Studies,” in “An Armenian Mediterranean, Words and Worlds in Motion” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018); and “The Great Schism of 1773: Venice and the Founding of the Armenian Community of Trieste,” in “Reflections of Armenian Identity in History and Historiography” (UCI Jordan Center, 2018).

Professor Aslanian is currently working on two book projects. The first is a history of early modern global Armenian print culture and is provisionally titled “Early Modernity and Mobility: Port Cities and Printers Across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512–1800.” Under contract with Yale University Press, the book rethinks in novel and insightful ways both the role of mobility in the early modern period in global history and the rise and development in that history of Gutenberg print culture across the early modern diasporic Armenian communities in the port cities of the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Indian Ocean world.

The second book project is provisionally titled “Signed, Sealed and Undelivered: The Voyage of the Santa Catharina and a Global Microhistory of the Indian Ocean, c. 1738–1756.” A narrative microhistory of trade and politics in the early modern Indian Ocean, the book relies on 2,000 pieces of mercantile and family correspondence, commercial contracts and other papers stored on an Armenian-freighted ship, the Santa Catharina, that was seized by the British navy in 1748. The book unpacks these letters, now stored at the High Court of Admiralty, and probes them to understand economic, cultural and political histories of Indian Ocean arena and emerging commercial and contractual isomorphism in the age of Empire.

As the holder of the Richard Hovannisian Chair in Modern Armenian history, Professor Aslanian manages the academic activities of his chair and teaches courses in the department of history, including the three-part “Armenia and Armenians in World History,” graduate seminars such as “Port Cities and Printers: An Introduction to Early Modern World and Armenian History,” and the survey class, “The Middle East, 1100–1700: From the Crusades and Mamluks to the Age of the Gunpowder Empires.”

The Armenian Studies Center is housed within The Promise Armenian Institute (PAI), and Professor Aslanian will work closely with PAI Inaugural Director Professor Ann Karagozian. PAI is a groundbreaking new entity within the UCLA International Institute. Made possible with a $20 million gift from the estate of Kirk Kerkorian, the largest gift that the International Institute has received, The Promise Armenian Institute positions UCLA to build significantly upon its more than 50 years of history of Armenian studies.

This new institute is the hub for world-class research and teaching on Armenian studies, including the Armenian Studies Center, and for coordinating new and ongoing research and public impact programs across UCLA, from social sciences to health sciences, from humanities to music, the arts and engineering, and from public policy to management. The Promise Armenian Institute’s size, scope and interdisciplinary approach make it the first of its kind in the world.

The International Institute warmly welcomes Professor Sebouh Aslanian to his leadership role at the Armenian Studies Center.