Post-genocide creative vision: A seminar for Armenian youth on culture and identity
May 08, 2022
"Post-Genocide Creative Vision: Memory, Art, and Demand for Restitution"
Graphic: Hamazkayin Lebanon
How has the trauma of the Armenian Genocide become part of the collective unconscious of Armenian culture and identity in the diaspora?
What contribution have artists and cultural institutions made to the shaping of who we are as individuals and as communities?
Can art heal our enduring traumas?
Searching for answers? Read on…
Providing concrete answers to questions related to transgenerational trauma induced by the Armenian Genocide is not only complicated, but also one of the most fundamental challenges of our society—there is no mathematical formula that can effectively address these issues.
As a cultural and educational organization, Hamazkayin is passionate about discovering new insights in the analysis of the long-term effects of the historical trauma that frames our diasporic existence.
In order to come closer to finding explanations, the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society in Lebanon is hosting a youth seminar on "Post-Genocide Creative Vision: Memory, Art, and Demand for Restitution," dedicated to the 107th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
In early January of 2022, The Regional Committee of Hamazkayin in Lebanon invited a group of experts to form a Task Force and work on conceptualizing and planning an event focusing on the questions mentioned above.
What the Task Force has come up with is exclusive: the event invites people to reflect on the unconscious cultural practices that define Armenians and attempts to bring them together in a collective narrative they would unanimously endorse.
Experts representing a broad spectrum of disciplines—ranging from art to music, and literature—will discuss the creative response to the Armenian Genocide as a way of processing the pain and trauma experienced by survivors and their descendants throughout the past century.
Literature, paintings, music, plays, and films not only act as catalysts for communication, but also are evidence of the long-lasting trauma affecting the psychological well-being of more than three generations of Diasporan Armenians.
Decades of artistic work and inspiration helped shape contemporary Armenian identity and create a saturated and sometimes stringent understanding of what it means to be Armenian, often bringing a prescribed set of perspectives to bear.
What is to be expected?
This one-day youth seminar is set to take place at the Armenian Genocide Orphans' Aram Bezikian Museum in Jbeil/Byblos (Lebanon) on Saturday, the 21st of May, 2022.
Following a key-note speech, the event will be divided into four panels which will respectively deal with:
- Language and literature
- Plastic and visual arts
- Diasporic institutions and community life
“Hamazkayin opted to focus on modern Armenian identity by offering the youth an insightful and analytical perspective to the impact of the genocide on the culture, art, and collective policies of the Armenian Diaspora,” says Sam Simonian, representative of Regional Committee of Hamazkayin in Lebanon. “The idea for this year's commemorative program is to help the youth identify the conscious and unconscious cultural attitudes adopted after the Armenian Genocide; bring depth to our understanding of the past, investigate the present, and plan for the future.”
The panelists will discuss how the trauma of alienation, devastation, and loss led to new traditions and discourses about self, identity, and belonging, that served to shape the new post-genocide identities of Armenian generations over decades.
The seminar will explore how collective memory became one of the most significant building blocks for identity formation in the Diaspora.
However, assuming an identity comes with the added stress of having to challenge global political dynamics, constant immigration pressures, and the ongoing threats to the security and sovereignty of Armenia and Artsakh—the backbone of a nationwide Armenian identity that plays a crucial role in shaping the multifaceted evolution of Armenian generations in the diaspora.
This is not merely an intellectual struggle, but an intrinsic part of direct cultural interaction with Armenian heritage on an individual basis.
Shaghig Kandaharian-Khudaverdian, chair of the Task Force, describes the lineup of panels as an unparalleled opportunity for participants to critically consider the topics being presented and to ponder the significance of the artistic and cultural expressions of Armenians in the post-genocide period.
She believes that proactive engagement in the discussions, especially from the younger participants, will give us a chance to learn about and reflect on cultural competencies and creative initiatives in the Armenian Diaspora, while analyzing them through the lens of our collective memory and demand for restitution.
The Armenian Genocide was a colossal trauma, and its shock waves reverberated beyond the immediate tragedy of massacres and deportation. It haunts many of us to this day.
The attendees of the seminar will explore how Armenian artists and writers channeled their experiences by harnessing the power of creative expression as a revelatory force, while the panelists—chosen for their expertise and knowledge—will inspire their curiosity and encourage deeper analytical inquiry and understanding into the cultural framework that defines the Armenian Diaspora.
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