On this day - Feb. 6, 1994: Aurora Mardiganian passes away at the age of 93
February 06, 2020
On this day in 1994, genocide survivor, actress, author, and activist, Aurora Mardiganian passed away at the age of 93.
On this day in 1994, genocide survivor, actress, author, and activist, Aurora (Arshaluys) Mardiganian | Աուրորա (Արշալոյս) Մարտիկանեան, passed away at the age of 93. After escaping a harem and losing her entire family in the genocide, Aurora ended up in the U.S., where she immediately published a memoir about her harrowing experience, titled “Ravished Armenia.” It soon became a silent film and a box office sensation, raising over $30 million for the Near East Relief and saving 60,000 orphans of the genocide. Aurora played the leading role, becoming the first Armenian starlet in Hollywood. She was only 18 years old.
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From blackface to “Cowboys vs. Indians,” Hollywood has had a long and troubled history with the way it portrays certain groups of people. As one of the “newer” immigrant groups to the United States, the Armenian community is one of the punchlines du jour in the American entertainment industry. After many decades, it is high time that we collectively demand fairer, more accurate representation on our screens, both big and small.
Are you of Armenian descent and live in the United States? Do you define yourself as Armenian-American? The difference between these questions may seem subtle, but it sparks two radically divergent conversations, one perhaps more hostile than the other. If you’ve ever been personally attacked by the Regina George of Armenian Identity Labels, you may find some comfort in the following recount.
Disclaimer: This article touches upon Armenianness as it pertains to diasporans living in the U.S. Those born and living in Armenia and other parts of the world may have different experiences and approaches to this question that the author does not feel she can speak to, though some of the themes and observations may overlap.
Language has always played a major component in our cultural identity as Armenians. But what do other communities have to say about this topic? We reflect on the experiences of the largest American ethnic group—the Irish—and, in doing so, find the commonalities in their struggle and the universal lessons we can take away from history
Throughout the past century, many artists, poets, and musicians have tackled the topic of the Armenian Genocide. Multidisciplinary writer and musician Alan Semerdjian and guitarist Aram Bajakian’s recent project, “The Serpent and the Crane,” processes trauma in a new light, while raising global awareness. Featuring artwork by Kevork Mourad (whom Semerdjian calls “a true visionary”) the spoken word album has achieved much praise and acclaim in the two months since its release. We had a chance to chat with Semerdjian about the record. Check it out below!