By Hagop Vartivarian
NEW YORK — A presentation of Prof. Armen Marsoobian’s book was organized on Thursday, October 15, at the headquarters of AGBU’s Central Offices, sponsored by AGBU Ararat Magazine, and Tekeyan and Hamazkayin Cultural Associations.
The author is a professor of Philosophy at the Southern Connecticut State University, whose President is Dr. Mary Papazian.
Marsoobian has published an impressive volume titled Fragments form the Lost Homeland – Remembering Armenia using photographs and expansive ethnographic accounts from his family.
His maternal relatives, the Dildilian, had saved more than a thousand photographs, carrying them through their exile route to Greece and then to the United States.
For four generations they were photographers. Their photographs depict family events as much as national and Ottoman scenes, captured at various occasions. A magnificent trove of high quality visual materials that has been salvaged today and forms a part of the reality of our past life. His maternal family is from Merzifon and the paternal from Palou (Kharput).
Using his collection of photographs Marsoobian has presented exhibitions and lectures in Istanbul, Merzifon and Diyarbakir, to large and receptive Turkish and Kurdish audiences. He has contacts in Turkish intellectual circles who facilitate the dissemination of his work in the various regions of the Turkish Republic. He will soon be going to Ankara, for the same project. This time the exhibition will be held at an official state venue, unlike the three previous ones, the latest of which took place at the quarters of St. Giragos Church of Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd).
The Dildilians stayed in Merzifon during the 1915 deportations until 1920, having been able to do so thanks to their professional career as photographers also managing to hold back and save many of their relatives. Eventually they have moved to Constantinople where they have equally photographed Turk and Greek freedom fighters fighting each other. They have later moved to Hartford in the United States, which during the early period of deportations had become a thriving Armenian community due to the abundance of factories there. The Dildilians have continued to work as professional photographers until late in the 1980s. They have been Armenian Evangelical by denomination.
At the centenary of the Genocide, this publication of Marsoobian is, without doubt, a praiseworthy initiative, dedicated to the maternal side of his family, the Dildilians.