The Armenian studies program is hosting its first Fall Lecture Series tonight at the University Business Center, flying in Dr. Simon Payaslian from Boston University to discuss the concept of “cultural congruence” in Armenian-American communities.
Barlow Der Mugrdechian, coordinator of the lecture series and Armenian studies program, said the lecture series has a two-fold purpose of aiding both students and faculty on campus, as well as engaging community members.
“No. 1, it’s for the students, so that we bring people that give different topics than what we do in the classroom,” Der Mugrdechian said. “It’s always nice to hear somebody other than your teacher all the time, so we invite somebody that has a topic that we don’t cover in detail.”
“But it’s also been a way for us to tie in with our community,” he added. “To tie them in with the university as the intellectual center, as a place that they can come, they feel comfortable coming and can meet scholars and ask questions.”
Payaslian, a friend of Der Mugrdechian, is the holder of the Charles K. and Elizabeth
M. Kenosian Chair in modern Armenian history and literature at Boston University.
His lecture, entitled “The Origins of the Armenian Community in New England and the Construction of Armenian-American ‘Cultural Congruence,’” will highlight the things that have changed and influenced the Armenian identity.
Payaslian will discuss how Armenian communities functioned to preserve their values, traditions and culture, and how they fostered a positive image of themselves in American society.
Der Mugrdechian said that despite the discussion focusing on a community so far from the Central Valley, there are parallels with Fresno. He noted that both communities are over 100 years old and that the topic’s discussion about cultural congruence could be applied here.
“There are probably 50,000 to 60,000 Armenians in the San Joaquin Valley,” Der Mugrdechian said.
The lecture series has been part of the Armenian studies program for over 35 years. For the last three years, the Leon S. Peters Foundation has been sponsoring the series.
The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Alice Peters Auditorium in the University Business Center. Parking for the lecture will be free after 7 p.m. in parking lots P5 or P6 and the lecture is free and open to the public.
The second lecture in the series will be held next Friday, Sept. 19 in the Alice Peters Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The session will be a book presentation of the work by Vahan Tekeyan, with guests Edmond Azadian, Dr. Arpi Sarafian and Tamar Hovhannisyan.