Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences
Minutes of the CAAS 1425th Meeting
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at New Haven Lawn Club
Lecture by Armen T. Marsoobian, Professor of Philosophy, Southern Connecticut State University. “Resistance and Rescue During the Armenian Genocide; The Story Behind a Photograph, Marsovan, 1915-1918.”
Hosted by Southern Connecticut State University, the meeting was opened by President Ernest Kohorn at 5:35 pm. The audience included a number of students and faculty members from Southern. More than eighty members and guests attended and most stayed for dinner and discussion afterward. Vice President Harvey Feinberg then introduced the President of SCSU, Mary Papazian. Dr. Papazian is a scholar of English Literature with a particular emphasis on the works of John Donne. She is a member of the Academy and pledged her support in the work of this prestigious academy which is the third oldest in the United States. Dr. Papazian was warmly welcomed by the Academy members and guests.
Professor David Pettigrew introduced the evening’s speaker, Armen T. Marsoobian, Professor of Philosophy, Southern Connecticut State University. Professor Marsoobian is chair of the Department of Philosophy at SCSU and is also Editor of the Metaphilosophy Journal. He is co-editor with Claudia Card of a collection of essays titled: Genocide’s Aftermath: Responsibility and Repair. The title of his presentation was: Resistance and Rescue During the Armenian Genocide; The Story Behind a Photograph, Marsovan, 1915-1918.
Professor Marsoobian introduced two pictures from which he explored the history of his own family and one town in Turkey, Marsovan (today’s Merzifon), near the Black Sea. From the panoramic picture of the town and a picture of a group of his relatives, he unraveled a fascinating story of one family’s experience during the time when Turkey engaged in so-called “deportation” of ethnic groups, mainly Armenians. His family has a rich trove of material, including photographs that have been the basis for his research into the Armenian genocide during WWI. The family was affiliated with Anatolia College, a missionary college in Marsovan, and his grandfather’s status as photographer was such that his immediate family was spared from the genocide. It also allowed his grandmother to create and maintain a hiding place for Armenian men who escaped from their forced service in the Turkish army OR FROM THE DEPORTATIONS. While researching the family’s story, Professor Marsoobian learned that his grandfather’s family had converted to Islam and been given Turkish identities. The story explained how families lived day-to-day and how many were able to hide from the Turkish police. Those who were deported rarely survived. In 1915 there were about 12000 Armenians in Marsovan and only 300 were allowed to stay. Conversion and new Turkish names avoided deportation but not conscription into the Turkish army. Most of these conscripted males were put into separate groups within the army and eventually killed. The family picture he presented is of a Christmas celebration and includes four men who had escaped from the army and were hidden by the grandfather and his wife. Soldiers defected and went into hiding, and those who were found were tortured and killed.
The Academy is grateful to Professor Marsoobian and Southern Connecticut State University for providing an insightful program.