Elyse Semerdjian to Speak at NAASR on Armenians in Aleppo, Then and Now


BELMONT, Mass. — Dr. Elyse Semerdjian will give a lecture titled “The Armenian Presence in Aleppo: Glorious Past, Uncertain Future,” on Thursday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave.

The growth of Aleppo’s Christian quarter coincided with migration of Armenians from Anatolia and Iran beginning in the sixteenth century.  By the twentieth century, more Armenians were forcibly deported to Aleppo during the Armenian Genocide.  As part of a larger reconstruction of the early history of Aleppo’s Christian quarter based on archival documents from the shari’a court archives in Syria and the Ottoman archives in Turkey, this paper explores the mostly unknown history of Armenians in the formative years of Aleppo’s Christian quarter.  The talk will also include references to twentieth century migration after the Armenian Genocide which greatly altered the composition of Armenians in Aleppo and will examine the implications of the current war on the future of Syria’s Armenian community.

Semerdjian is associate professor of Islamic World/Middle Eastern History and the director of Global Studies at Whitman College.  A specialist in early modern Ottoman history and Syria, she wrote Off the Straight Path: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (Syracuse University Press, 2008) as well as several articles on gender, non-Muslims, and law in the Ottoman Empire.

She received her MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and her PhD in history from Georgetown University.  She is a two-time Fulbright awardee and is currently writing on Islamicized Armenians and the collective memory of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey and Syria.  Semerdjian continues to research the social history of the Armenians of Saliba Judayda, the Christian quarter of Aleppo, focusing on the formative seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

For more information about the lecture contact NAASR at hq@naasr.org.