- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Levon Chorbajian, PhD
Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 at 4:18 AM
Rouben Galichian’s "The Invention of History: Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Showcasing of Imagination" is an important book that addresses a core issue facing the Armenian people ninety-five years after the Genocide: survival in the face of further erasures and eradications.
Rouben Galichian’s "The Invention of History: Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Showcasing of Imagination" is an important book that addresses a core issue facing the Armenian people ninety-five years after the Genocide: survival in the face of further erasures and eradications. This is an issue with many dimensions, some of them well known and others not. Galichian, whose works include "Historic Maps of Armenia: The Cartographic Heritage" (I.B. Tauris) and "Countries of the Caucasus in Medieval Maps: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan" (Gomidas Institute Books), focuses here on one of the lesser known aspects--Azerbaijan and its attacks on Armenian history, identity and survival.
Azerbaijan was founded in 1918 under the leadership of the pan-Turkic Musavat Party. There had been no Azerbaijani state in history, and the name was taken from the territory south of the Arax River, in northern Persia (present-day Iran), where much larger numbers of Azeri speakers lived and continue to live today. Galichian notes that Persian officials considered the use of the name usurpation and protested its use at the time.
In the territorial jockeying that went on in the early Soviet Union, in 1920 Azerbaijan was given control of Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) with its 95% Armenian majority, and Nakhichevan (40% Armenian). These were bitter defeats for Armenia, but ironically, they also further exacerbated Azerbaijan’s own identity problem. The people called Azeri today are an amalgam of Arab, Turkic, and Persian peoples who had historically been known as Caucasian Tatars. The territory that became Azerbaijan not only contained hundreds of thousands of Armenians but also large numbers of non-Azeri Muslims and some non-Armenian Christians. Azeri leaders were faced with the problem of how to forge a national identity where none had existed before.
The answer was to fabricate a history. The officially sponsored Buniatov or Baku School of Historiography (Ziya Buniatov was an Azeri revisionist historian) developed to re-write history in the service of national ambition. In his early chapters, Galichian examines two books that exemplify the fruits of these labours, "War against Azerbaijan: Targeting Cultural Heritage" and "Monuments of Western Azerbaijan." Just as Turkey claims its roots in the Hittites and other people with whom it has no historical connection, Azerbaijan claims to be the heir to the Caucasian Albanians, a Christian people who ruled much of what is now Azerbaijan and had became extinct in the 12th century. This subterfuge eradicates a millennia long Armenian presence and allows Azeris to be presented as indigenous and the Armenians as latter-day interlopers. This is the history that has been taught to Azeri schoolchildren for decades, and its irredentist implications are clearly revealed when we understand that “Western Azerbaijan” refers to Armenia itself.
Galichian painstakingly examines the fate of Armenian monuments in territories that came under Azeri control. No Armenians live in Nakhichevan today. Nor do we find the more than 200 Armenian churches, monasteries, chapels and cemeteries that were there in the early 19th century. In one startling section of his book Galichian documents the fate of a cemetery that once contained 10,000 khachkars (carved Armenian burial stones). This cemetery in Nakhichevan was on the northern banks of the Arax River and clearly visible from Iran. The last 2,000 of these khachkars were toppled and broken up a decade ago by the Azeri army. The remnants were taken away on trains or dumped into the river. Galichian provides photographs of this destruction taken by Scottish architect Steven Sim. Today the site is a military shooting range.
Galichian has collected and provided ‘before and after’ photographs of other Armenian sites as well. These include the before and after examples of abraded Armenian text on buildings which, while not destroying the buildings themselves, obscures their Armenian origins.
This is an important book for three reasons. First, Galichian’s text and photographs document the continuation of genocide in the form of the final eradication of the Armenian people’s history. The story Galichian tells is not new and has close parallels in Azerbaijan’s sister republic Turkey where Armenian monuments have been razed, used as targets in artillery practices, taken apart for building materials, and used as stables. And where the monuments have tourist value, they have been attributed to others. This is a game played by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Second, Galichian’s book is timely given the terms of the stalled (but revivable) Turkish-Armenian Protocols that would radically re-define Turkish-Armenian-Azeri relations without strong protections for Armenia’s national security interests. The fate of Armenians in Nakhichevan, including the final eradication and erasure of their historical presence was captured in the term “Nakhichevan-ization” that became a symbol of cultural genocide and inspired an Armenian vow that the process would not be repeated in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Galichian’s book stands as a warning. He makes it very clear what is at stake if Armenia succumbs to Western pressure, and to Turkish and Azeri promises of brotherhood, goodwill, and solidarity.
Thanks to the liberation of Artsakh between 1988 and 1994, the fate of Armenian monuments is now under Armenian control. The last of Galichian’s contributions is his photographic documentation of the ravages of Azeri vandalism and neglect of Armenian monuments such as Dadivank and the Gandzasar Monastic complexes and their subsequent restoration by Armenian artisans after 1994.
Galichian has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the continuing attacks on the history and legacy of the Armenian people. He has compiled the history and allowed it to speak through text and photographs of the dangers of any Western brokered “peace settlement” that calls for the surrender of Armenian-held territory without the full independence of an internationally guaranteed and recognized Artsakh.
# # #
Levon Chorbajian, Ph.D. is the translator and co-author of "The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh" (Zed Books) and the editor of "The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh: From Secession to Republic" (Palgrave Macmillan).
Rouben Galichian. The Invention of History: Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Showcasing of Imagination. Gomidas Institute-London and Printinfo Art Books-Yerevan. 2009. 112 pp. Includes a DVD on Armenian Julfa and more than 50 colour photos and maps. US/ £20. Available from AbrilBooks.com, NAASR.org, Gomidas.org, and Amazon UK.
Report this post as:
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights
What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It
Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down
Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29
Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf
Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development
Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine
Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents
Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters
City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre
Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling
Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present
Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police
LA Times Homicide Report
More Local News...
What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress??
Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée
The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion
Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service
The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally!
The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder
Paraphysique de la dictature étatique
Book Review: "The New Bonapartists"
The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia
Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine
The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally!
“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize!
The World Dependent on Central Banks
Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine
March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel
ICE contract with license plate reader company
Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes
Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges
Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes
Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety
Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man
Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes
Paraphysique de l'autorité
Two Podcasts on fbi corruption
Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS
More Breaking News...