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On the Boundaries of History: The Armenian Diaspora of the Early Modern Period

Sebouh Aslanian

A fascinating look at the beginnings of the global Armenian diaspora in the early modern period


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January 2020

On the Boundaries of History: The Armenian Diaspora of the Early Modern Period

Dr. Sebouh Aslanian examines a series of historical events that led to the dispersion of Armenian communities to port cities across Europe and Asia in the early modern period, giving rise to a culturally and commercially thriving global diaspora. Dr. Aslanian argues that Armenians, positioned throughout history at the crossroads of empires and shifting political powers, were ideal liminal subjects who could successfully navigate and translate across cultures, languages, and boundaries and that in some sense, it is this liminality that has helped them survive and thrive through the centuries.

Dr. Sebouh David Aslanian is the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair of Modern Armenian History and Professor in the Department of History at UCLA. Aslanian is the author of From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011) which was the recipient of the PEN Center’s Exceptional UC Press First Book Award and winner of the Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award, Middle East Studies Association (MESA), 2011. His essay “Une vie sur plusieurs continent: Microhistoire globale d'un agent arménien de la Compagnie des Indes orientales (1666-1688)" appeared in Annales: Histoire, Science Sociales in 2019. Aslanian's second book manuscript, Early Modernity and Mobility: Port Cities and Printers Across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512-1800 is scheduled to appear from Yale University Press in the spring of 2023.  He is also working on a manuscript on the global microhistory of the early modern Indian ocean based on the voyage of an Armenian-freighted ship called the Santa Catharina.

Topics: Arts/Culture History Travel