Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient

BONE MEMORY: Armenian Pilgrimages to the Killing Fields of Dayr al-Zur ~ Sunday, April 21, 2024 ~ In Person: LA / On YouTube

Ararat-Eskijian Museum Armenian Studies Program at Cal State Northridge NAASR Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA


DR. ELYSE SEMERDJIAN: Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies, Clark University

This presentation outlines the earliest Armenian pilgrimages to the killing fields of Dayr al-Zur (Der Zor) in the Syrian Desert. It is there that Armenians interacted with the remains of Armenians murdered during the Armenian Genocide (1915-1918) in acts of remembrance. Semerdjian discusses the origins of the now-destroyed Armenian Genocide Memorial in Dayr al-Zur and the ritual and collection habits of pilgrims that enact what she calls bone memory. Using archival documents and oral histories, she presents the genesis of these memory practices that largely halted during the Syrian War.

Elyse Semerdjian is a social historian of the Ottoman Empire whose research focuses on the experiences of women and the empire's Armenian subjects. She has authored Off the Straight Path”: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (Syracuse University Press, 2008) and Remnants: Embodied Archives of the Armenian Genocide (Stanford University Press, 2023) as well as several articles on gender, Ottoman Armenians, urban history, and law in the Ottoman Empire.

Ararat-Eskijian Museum and Research Center (AEMRC)
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)
Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA
Armenian Studies Program at Cal State Northridge (CSUN)

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