Book Launch: Ara Sarafian presents Gomidas Institute’s latest book

We were very pleased to host an old friend on 17 October – Ara Sarafian of Gomidas Insititue. He was presenting a new book, “Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, 1914” by Dr. Karayan. The book is the most important English-language publication on the demographic profile of Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire, listing lists over 4,000 Armenian inhabited towns and villages, their old and new names, geographical coordinates, and Armenian population.

There was huge interest in the event and the hall filled in very quickly. It was really nice to welcome not only the regulars and the Armenian community members, but also Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian visitors who had an interest in this fascinating talk. We also had some distinguished guests from Birmingham – Claire Short (Former Secretary of State for International Development in the Cabinet of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair until her resignation in 2003) and psychologist Dr Alan Kessedjian.

As it is always the case with Ara Sarafian’s thought-provoking talks, the Q&A session was longer than the actual lecture, and there are already plans for the next talks, which will concentrate on each region of the Ottoman Empire separately.

From Gomidas Insitute Executive Director Ara Sarafian: “Last night we had our first launch of Dr. Karayan’s “Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, 1914” and it went well. I introduced the book in his own terms. I stressed that he was a pathbreaker and his volume is now an important milepost in Ottoman historiography. I also added that he based his work on a massive range of published sources and went on to comment on his findings with reference to archival materials that he could not consult. This independent assessment was a crucial factor in validating his work. The audience was mixed in its social, academic and ethnic makeup. It was good to see many Turks and Kurds there – because Ottoman Armenian history is part of our broader, common history. I think we should reflect on such gatherings as part of the ongoing reconciliation process that took off 10-15 years ago at a societal level. The Armenian Genocide and its legacy have not been resolved, and there can still be a dignified resolution to it”.