BELMONT, Mass. (A.W.)—The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues presented “Setting the Agenda: Genocide Studies Today and the Place of the Armenian Genocide” on Sept. 21.
The program featured a conversation with Dr. Henry Theriault, who was recently elected president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and who is associate vice president for academic affairs at Worcester State University. Joining Dr. Theriault in conversation was NAASR Academic Director Marc Mamigonian .
In his introductions, Mamigonian said the intention of the event was to start a discussion about the state of genocide studies today and the place of Armenian Genocide studies within the field, and urged audience members to engage in the conversation.
“As president of IAGS, I really want to think of ways to move the organization forward. We’re at a particularly difficult political time in the U.S. and globally,” Theriualt said in his opening, citing recent developments across the United States, Turkey, and Europe. “We’re seeing a return in some of the same issues that we thought we had made progress against in the last 50 years, 30 years, 20 years,” Theriault noted.
According to Theriault, IAGS is one of the many organizations that can have a real impact in terms of public education and advocacy in a difficult political climate domestically and internationally. He opened the floor for comments and suggestions from the audience.
Theriault has served as founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Genocide Studies International. He chaired the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group, and he was lead author of its 2015 final report. His autobiographical narrative, “Out of the Shadow of War and Genocide,” was included in Advancing Genocide Studies: Personal Accounts and Insights from Scholars in the Field (2015), edited by Samuel Totten. After 19 years on the faculty in the philosophy department at Worcester State, in 2017 he became associate vice president for academic affairs there.
A scholar who has been a leading voice among of genocide studies over the past decade and more, and now as president of IAGS, a position to which he was elected in June 2017, Theriault is among those setting the agenda for genocide studies. In his IAGS inaugural address, he stated that “genocide studies has been at the forefront of recent human rights advances…. Demagogues attack the sensibilities [that] genocide studies engenders. Our work is a crucial challenge to their propaganda. IAGS must strive against this marginalization while innovatively expanding the field, especially creating space for emerging scholars particularly vulnerable to this backlash.”
Below is footage of “Setting the Agenda: Genocide Studies Today and the Place of the Armenian Genocide.” The video is courtesy of NAASR.