Twice Displaced: Syrian Armenian Stories of Resettlement and Revival in Armenia and Abroad
I organized and moderated this panel on the Syrian Armenian refugee community in Armenia.
The CMES Armenian Studies Lecture Series presents…
Rebecca L. Thomas, MSW, PhD
Professor and Director, Center for International Social Work Studies, University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Harvard Law School 3L; co-founder of ReRooted, a Syrian-Armenian Archive
Co-founder of ReRooted, a Syrian-Armenian Archive
Syria provided a refuge for Ottoman Armenians fleeing the violence in their ancestral villages during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. The Syrian Armenian community grew and flourished in the twentieth century—schools, churches, businesses, and institutions supported the development of a distinct and vibrant culture. After a century of post-Genocide revival, many Armenians in Syria were displaced a second time during the chaos of the ongoing Syrian Civil War that began in 2011. Some Syrian Armenians stayed in Syria, while others immigrated to Armenia, the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, and elsewhere. To understand the diversity of experiences in this twice-displaced population, this event will describe, contextualize, and explain the Syrian Armenian community’s past, present, and future.
Rebecca L. Thomas, MSW, Ph.D., is Professor and the Director of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work Center for International Social Work Studies. Dr. Thomas is the Chair of Policy Practices. She also coordinates a joint academic program exchange between UConn and Yerevan State University in Armenia. Her current research and scholarship include issues related to remittances, international development, poverty, and migration. Dr. Thomas is the Chair of the Commission on Global Social Work Education and represents International Association of Schools of Social Work on the NGO Committee on Migration at the United Nations. She also serves on the City of Hartford Commission on Immigrant-on-Immigrant Affairs.
Anoush Baghdassarian, Harvard Law School 3L and co-founder of the ReRooted Syrian-Armenian Archive. Anoush is a proud Armenian with roots all over the diaspora. She is currently pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law School with the goal of working in international criminal law, conflict resolution, and transitional justice. She received her Master’s in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and holds an Honors Bachelor’s Degree from Claremont McKenna College in Psychology and Spanish with a sequence in Holocaust and Human Rights studies. She has served as an advisor to the Armenian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and as an intern at the Ombudsman Human Rights Defender’s Office in Yerevan, Armenia. Additionally, Anoush is a published author of a historical fiction play about the Armenian Genocide entitled FOUND which has been presented at book events around the world and produced for stage productions in New York and California. Anoush strongly believes in the power of storytelling and preserving history, so co-creating ReRooted with Ani has been one of the most meaningful experiences she has had.
Ani Schug, co-founder of the ReRooted Syrian-Armenian Archive. Ani is a proud Philly-Armenian Diasporan. There, she attended the Armenian Sisters Academy and later went out to California to study Politics and Middle Eastern Studies at Pomona College. She has experience creating and running community-based programs including English classes for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Now, she is back in Philadelphia working as a DOJ Accredited Representative with low-income immigrants seeking to reunite with their families, become permanent residents, or apply for citizenship. She speaks Armenian, Arabic, Spanish and Swahili. Ani loves her work with Anoush on the Rerooted Archive as it has connected her with one of the strongest Armenian communities– the one that in fact printed the Armenian textbooks she learned from as a kid. She is eager for you to listen to the words of our narrators and re-examine topics such as Diaspora identity, gender, class, and minorities in the Middle East.