PSIA Seminar: War, Business and Politics – Informal Networks and Formal Institutions in Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia— On March 15, the Political Science and International Affairs program (PSIA) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a seminar led by experts from the Caucasus Institute (CI)—Dr. Alexander Iskandaryan, Director, Dr. Sergey Minasyan, Deputy Director and Head of Political Studies Department, and Mr. Hrant Mikaelyan, Research Associate.

During the seminar, speakers presented the results of a study conducted on formal and informal groups and mechanisms within Armenia’s political, economic, and military elites. The aim of the study was to reveal trends in formal institution-building and the changing role of informality in Armenia’s power system since gaining its independence in 1991. The study incorporates data from over 50 interviews with elite actors, along with archive materials, media stories, and expert opinions. In addition, speakers also referenced a separate case study, which considers the emergence and evolution of the Armenian army.

Dr. Iskandaryan is a world-renowned political scientist. His areas of scientific interest include ethnopolitical conflicts, post-Communist transformations and nation-building in the former Soviet Union. He has published and spoken on the emergence of post-Soviet institutions, elites, and identities, conducted and supervised research on conflicts, migrations, discourses, media development and cross-border integration.

Dr. Minasyan is the Deputy Director and Head of Political Studies Department at the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan, Armenia. He holds a Ph.D. in Military History from the Institute of History under the National Academy of Sciences and Doctorate of Political Science from the Institute for National Security Studies at the Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Mikaelyan has worked for CI upon graduating with a Master’s degree in Political Science in 2010. He has conducted and supervised research on ideological trends, economics, religion and society using varied research techniques including focus groups, interviewing and discourse analysis. His research is published by CI, other think-tanks, and scholarly journals. Since 2012, Mr. Mikaelyan has been studying at the Yerevan State University for an MA in Human Rights and Democratization. He received his BA in Computer Network and Systems at the National Technical University of Georgia.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.