Established in 1928 by AGBU founder Boghos Nubar, the AGBU Nubarian Library in Paris, France has compiled one of the world’s foremost collections of Armenian and Ottoman contemporary history over the years. Thanks to the longtime directorship of Aram Andonian (from its inception until 1952), the library now boasts an impressive collection of more than 42,000 books on Armenian history, nearly 1000 periodicals dating back to the 19th century and 10,000 original rare photographs. It also brings together several important collections of great historical value, such as the Armenian National Delegation archives, a portion of the archives of the Patriarchate of Istanbul and a vast number of survivor accounts that were painstakingly collected by Andonian to allow scholars to document the history of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
The Nubarian Library is an invaluable resource for countless researchers, academics, and master’s and PhD students, as well as the numerous visitors seeking precious details about their genealogy and family history each year. Library staff are frequently approached by documentarians, movie producers and journalists interested in Armenian history and diasporan communities. In the past few months, the library has welcomed visitors from Armenia, Turkey, Lebanon, the United States, Egypt, Italy, Great Britain, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Australia. It is the only institution in the diaspora accessible to the public with such a rich archival collection documenting Armenian and Ottoman history. From its inception, Nubar and the other founders insisted that the library be built in Paris in order to attract visitors from both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The impressive collection contained within the Nubarian Library is of irreplaceable value to the Armenian diaspora scattered across the globe.
A History of Research
The Nubarian Library’s role as a research center took hold in the late 1980s under the leadership of historian Raymond KÈvorkian. Over the years, it attracted not just those interested in contemporary history, but also anthropologists and historians of art, music, politics and the medieval period. In that capacity, the library participates in numerous projects that link institutions in Armenia with the diaspora. Staff frequently work in partnership with other heritage and cultural institutions in France, including the Center for Armenian Heritage in Valence and the National Center of Armenian Memory in Decines, and elsewhere in Europe, such as the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. The library’s diverse publications contribute to research literature and help foster important ties within the academic community.
A New Journal
In September 2013, the Nubarian Library published the first edition of Contemporary Armenian Studies, an academic journal that examines current issues facing Armenians both at home and in the vast diaspora. Published in French and English, the multidisciplinary journal examines political, historical, cultural and geographical challenges in Armenia, the Caucasus, Turkey and the Middle East. With its special themed issues, the journal also seeks to explore broader subjects involving international relations, nationalism, diaspora communities, cultural memory, heritage and genocide.
The quarterly review replaces the Journal of Contemporary Armenian Issues, of which 15 issues were published between 2004 and 2012. The revised name and new look is intended to rebrand the magazine as a more academic journal. To achieve that goal, a new editorial committee has been appointed to meet regularly to define the aims and content of the journal in addition to an international committee of researchers, including Vincent Duclert, Vahe Tachjian, Taner Akçam, Yves Ternon, Bernard Heyberger, Ugur Ümit Üngör, Beatrice Giblin, Sevane Garibian, Hamit Bozarslan and Michel Bruneau.
An Editorial Evolution
All submissions to Contemporary Armenian Studies will now be anonymously evaluated by two other readers before being accepted for publication. The decision to publish articles in both French and English is intended to encourage more collaboration between researchers from different countries with similar areas of interest. In order to help fulfill the journal’s mission to build upon the existing body of literature and disseminate that knowledge more widely, Contemporary Armenian Studies will also soon be published online as part of the revues.org database which already publishes web-based versions of more than 400 social science journals in French as well as in other languages. This editorial evolution will help the journal contribute more substantively to the field of Armenian studies, already well-established in Europe and France in particular, but lacking, for the past several years, an academic journal specifically dedicated to contemporary Armenian affairs.
Not Just for the Academic Community
As part of its mandate to inform and educate, Contemporary Armenian Studies will continue to target the general public to help as broad a readership as possible—not just the academic community—better understand the issues and themes the new journal seeks to explore in each issue. The first issues have already included original research, such as Taline Papazian’s study on political sovereignty in the South Caucasus in the 20th century, Astrig Alamian’s look at Armenian volunteers in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, Emmanuel Naquet’s article on the mobilization of intellectuals during the Dreyfus Affair in support of the Armenian cause and Laurence De Cock’s analysis of the inclusion of the Armenian genocide in the French secondary school curriculum. The upcoming issue will feature a thematic review of the similarities between the Jewish and Armenian experience in the 20th century, including interviews with Israeli historian Shlomo Sand and diaspora specialist Khachig Tölölyan.