Varak Ketsemanian
, ,

PSIA Hosts Seminar on Armenian Constitutionalism in Late Ottoman Empire

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On April 25, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) graduate program held a seminar with Varak Ketsemanian, adjunct lecturer at AUA’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) and Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Near Eastern Studies of Princeton University.

Following brief welcoming remarks by PSIA Program Chair and Associate Professor Dr. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, Ketsemanian took the floor to present his research on the topic of Armenian Constitutionalism in the Late Ottoman Empire: Reform and Crisis in the 19th and 20th Centuries. He explained how, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, blossoming constitutional movements in the Middle East drew participants from different ethnoreligious groups (from Tunisia and Mount Lebanon, as well as Jews, Armenians, Iranians, and Greeks), and with diverse cultural, and ideological backgrounds. These individuals relied on debate and interaction with one another to achieve coherence from a range of disparate views. Ketsemanian explored constitutional reform and the politics of communal organization and administration among Ottoman-Armenians by contextualizing the Armenian National Constitution (Հայոց Ազգային Սահմանադրութիւն/Hayots’ Azgayin Sahmanadrut’iwn) of 1863 as an element within the wider framework of Ottoman social, religious, political, and educational reforms in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Tracing the development and ways in which communal institutions functioned in Constantinople, as well as evaluating a few cases from the Ottoman provinces, Ketsemanian discussed the processes of solidification of communal boundaries and the rigidification of religious identities during a period of major imperial reorganization and social reshuffling. Furthermore, he examined how, and to what extent, constitutionalism was practiced and experienced on the micro-level, and what were the debates and challenges that came with it.

The seminar was followed by a Q&A session, during which participants had the opportunity to expand on the topic and seek further insight into the main arguments presented by Ketsemanian.

The Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program provides world-class teaching and research, producing graduates who can best contribute to the development of the nation.