Updated: Jul 8, 2021
(L-R): Helping to celebrate the historic granting of the first Ph.D. in Armenian Genocide Studies to Khatchig Mouradian are Asya Darbinyan (doctoral student), Professor Taner Akcam, Armenian Assembly of America Board President Carolyn Mugar, and Anna Aleksanyan and Emre Cam Dagioglu (doctoral students). (Photo: Spencer Cronin, Clark University)
Clark University is privileged to stand at the forefront in establishing the Armenian Genocide as a distinct focus of doctoral study, setting a landmark on Jan. 5, when the first student completed a Ph.D. in Armenian Genocide Studies at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Khatchig Mouradian defended his dissertation, Genocide and Humanitarian Assistance in Ottoman Syria (1915-1917), before Professors Taner Akҫam and Debórah Dwork, who served as co-directors of his dissertation committee. Raymond Kévorkian, Director of the Nubarian Library in Paris, served as the third committee member.
“This graduation marks a historic turning point in Armenian Genocide research,” Akçam said during a celebration to honor Mouradian, held Jan. 29 in the Strassler Center’s Rose Library.
“He is not only the first Doctor of our Armenian Genocide track but also the first doctorate in North America after so many years of silence in the field,” he said.
The event also celebrated Asya Darbinyan, a third-year doctoral student who defended the prospectus of her dissertation, Russian Response to the Armenian Genocide: Humanitarian Assistance for Armenian Refugees on the Caucasus Frontline of WW1 (1914-1917).
Dwork, director of the Strassler Center, commented on both milestones: “The award of the first Ph.D. in Armenian Genocide Studies is a huge step forward in the field. Happily, the first recipient is followed by a robust pipeline of students pursuing groundbreaking dissertation projects. The Armenian Genocide continues to be beset by deniers. These young scholars’ research shows how risible such arguments are. Scholarship trumps propaganda.”
Armenian Assembly of America Board President Carolyn Mugar and her late husband John O’Connor ’78, who was a Clark University trustee, donated the first-ever endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History and Armenian Genocide Studies at any university. They challenged others to join them in supporting this innovative professorship named in honor of Carolyn’s parents Stephen and Marian Mugar, as well as Robert Aram ’52 and Marianne Kaloosdian. Clark alumnus, Armenian Assembly of America Vice Chairman and Counselor
Robert Kaloosdian, a lawyer in Watertown, MA, and former president of the Washington, D.C.-based Armenian National Institute, is a leader in Armenian affairs. In 2002, the Kaloosdian Mugar Chair was established in the History Department and as a constituent member of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Taner Akçam joined Clark University as Kaloosdian/Mugar Professor in fall 2008. A leading genocide scholar and an authority in the history of political violence and torture in late Ottoman and early Republican Turkey, Akçam is the first scholar of Turkish origin to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and to publish groundbreaking research on this topic.
Clark University is committed to scholarship and inquiry that addresses social and human imperatives on a global basis, and has played a prominent role in the development of several academic disciplines, including psychology, geography and interdisciplinary environmental studies. The pioneering Strassler Center program in Armenian Genocide Studies embodies the University’s history of academic innovation.