Why We Should Read... `The History' by Arakel Tavrizhetsi (592pp, Sovetagan Grogh, 1988, Yerevan) `The people were desperately in need of a Moses, but none was to be found.' Armenian News Network / Groong February 29, 2016 By EDDIE ARNAVOUDIAN Arakel Tavrizhetsi (c1590-1670) is the last in the cycle of the great classical Armenian historians. Closing the medieval age his `History' moves in the same groove as that of his sole significant predecessor Tomas Medzopetsi (1378-1446). Covering the first six decades of the 17th century, in Tavrizhetsi too, social, demographic and economic collapse across historical Armenia constitutes a dominant narrative. Yet Tavrizhetsi is also our first modern historian. Signalling a turn from a long, 500 year continuum in the steady dismantling of the infrastructures of Armenian society in occupied historic Armenia, he signposts an early stage in the emergence of a modern Armenian nation, one that to this day combines, into a single albeit deeply fractured whole, the experience of Armenian life in homeland and Diaspora. The most striking axis in Tavrizhetsi remains however the story of Shah Abbas's early 1600 mass deportation of Armenians to Iran, arguably, another crippling blow to Armenian nation-formation in historic Armenia. Here an endpoint was marked by the relocation to Iran of the entire population of the city of Jugha. A vital economic centre in Armenia, one that could have generated a domestic economic elite essential to any nation formation, was erased. In Iranian New Jugha, and elsewhere thereafter, Diaspora economic elites though often sustaining emergent national development, did so ruthlessly limited and guided by interests remote from the homeland, set and shaped in foreign lands and reliant on foreign states. Constituting a second, overarching narrative, the story of the 16th century Church-led Armenian cultural renaissance also delineates the arrival of a modern age in which a process of national revival in historic Armenia, with the Church as core, runs parallel with and in a significant degree fired by and dependent upon a growing Armenian Diaspora and its formidable economic elites. Defining a feature of Armenian modernity, the business of sustaining these 16th century reformers that battled against corrupt Church hierarchies is taken over by Diaspora merchants happy to donate generously to priest and bishop in return for their blessing of business - but always on their own firm Diaspora terms. In the post-Tavrizhetsi era, even as the Armenian homeland develops with its own particular dynamics, Diaspora elites, always subordinated to foreign State authority, will exercise decisive and distorting influence on the form and direction of a modern national development constituted from both the Armenian homeland and its Diaspora. I. The deportation of a people Tavrizhetsi's `History' is regional in scope reaching well beyond Armenian borders. But it is most compelling as `the story of suffering in Armenia' `brought about by Shah Abbas' (p.17). Bent on restoring an Iranian state in disarray, retreat and decline, Shah Abbas, the first occupant of the new Safavid dynasty throne, threw down the gauntlet to Iran's age-old Ottoman foe now occupying the Caucuses and western Armenia. The ravaging and the pillaging, the plundering, the arson and the mass deportations that ensued in a war to reassert Iranian primacy again made of Armenia a desert and a bloody burial ground. Terrible social and economic dislocation compounded by natural disaster created famine so desperate that it led in turn to widespread cannibalism (p.78-79). Thus, writes Tavrizhetsi was: `Our nation ...dispersed, slaughtered, enchained and bonded to poverty by plunderers, slave-drivers and taxmen (p.17).' Iran this time around may have fired the first shot in a nearly 50 year military contest between Iranian and Ottoman Empires, but now, as before, the Armenian people had nothing to choose between the two barbarisms. Tavrizhetsi finds he is: `...incapable of listing all the evils that were brought upon the land'... `by the movement of two imperial powers, the one from the west, the other from the east.' ...Only he could record them who tallies the number of stars in the skies and created so many people who became victim to these heartless beasts in human form (p.71-72).' Like Medzopetsi, whilst focussing on his Armenian flock Tavrizhetsi acknowledges that it was not just Armenians who suffered the blight, but Georgians, Jews, Assyrians, Muslims, Sunni Muslims particularly and others too (p.41, 43, 84). Nevertheless defining the 1600-1610 years for Armenians was their forced mass deportation to Iran. Uprooting and forced migration was and remained in the future too, a catastrophic result of war these days euphemistically termed `collateral damage'. This time, however it was more. It was a planned military and economic move that combined both a scorched earth policy and a booster to Iranian trading and economic power. Following seizure of any province or region Iranian military commanders issued edicts to empty towns, villages and homes so: `When the Ottomans arrive they will find the land deserted, with no food or keep either for their men or their animals. As a result of the absence of necessities the Ottoman forces will find themselves in difficult straits (p.41).' To be certain that such `difficult straits' would be as debilitating, as painful and as costly as possible: `From wherever the population was driven out, from towns and villages, all buildings, and homes were put to flames. Stocks of wheat, of grains, of grass and other stores were also annihilated by fire (p.43).' Used in early battles as shields, `forced to the front to face fire and sword' and `cut down by both sides (p.33)' a triumphant Iranian military then herded Armenians en masse, driving them to `Yerevan and from there to Persia'; `not just from one province' but from `many provinces (p.41).' Besides casting the Ottomans into dire straits, the erasure by arson of Armenian homes had a further purpose. It was to hurl the deported masses into such `hopeless despair' that they would `never consider returning' to Armenia, for in Iran, relocated Armenian labour was to serve the Shah's economic ambitions. Shah Abbas intended that in Iran: `Deported populations would for eternity be steady taxpayers, servants and agricultural workers (p.41).' The greatest economic prize however was to be the population of Jugha, that `most opulent' `large and famous' Armenian town for the moment lying within Ottoman occupied Armenia. Jugha then an economic and trading centre connecting continents and empires to the east and west was, was with its Armenian merchants and traders the potential core for native economic development, a development so essential to any integral process of nation formation. To snatch Jugha's economic prowess, then servicing the Ottoman Empire's economic life, Shah Abbas removed its entire population, lock stock and barrel to more secure Iranian borders. He revealed his economic ambition when dismissing Iranian complaints that relocated Armenians were being offered unfair privileges: `I only just succeeded in bringing them to this country and that after great expense, effort and planning. I did not however bring them here for their benefit, but so that our land can be built up and developed, so that our nation grows (p.62).' To `develop his nation' the Shah terminated a hub of domestic Armenian national development! Thereafter, extensive and impressive as it was, Armenian capital aggregates primarily in the Diaspora, in New Jugha and then in Tbilisi, in Baku, in Istanbul, in Moscow, in faraway India and beyond. At home in contrast, `Almost at once the full and fecund land of the Armenians ... was transformed into ruins, a desert', `emptied and destroyed (p.52-53)'. II. The Churchman who loved his flock Tavrizhetsi was a Churchman not a democratic activist. Yet judging by the unprecedented heart he shows for the common people, one could say he loved his flock with a democratic passion. His descriptions of their bitter suffering, their plight and their poverty are fired by a moving empathy. When he rages against Shah Abbas, which he does frequently, it is not primarily for this ugly monarch's strikes at Church or elite, but for savagery against the people. Reminding us of the deportations that set in motion the 1915 Armenian Genocide, we read of `heartless soldiers, driving defenceless people into the river Arax'. The bodies of `those who could not swim, the weak and infirm, young boys, girls and babies covered the surface of the river, driven by tides as if dry spring wood.' Many did `get across, but far greater were the numbers of those who drowned (p.45-46).' As heart breaking is the suffering and the sorrow of the population of Jugha. Driven to Iran `weeping for their homes, their Churches and...for the burial grounds and tombs of their forefathers', they suffered `Persian horsemen... snatching anything that pleased their eye be it a woman, a girl, a boy or an item of property (p55-60).' Many earlier classical Armenian historians have described with force the awful blight of foreign invasion and conquest. But none compare with Tavrizhetsi in the space he devotes to the misfortune of the common people, in the passionate evocation of the condition of the poor, the weak and the elderly. In raging anger he borrows the vitriolic language that his predecessors had used when they poured acid upon the reputation of the brutal Arab imperial invaders of Armenia. For what he did to the people Tavrizhetsi denounces Shah Abbas as that `monster from the deep' harbouring a `snakelike' hostility for Armenians, `full of bile', `envious' for their wealth and riches that he sought to seize `with lying promises' and `deceitful proposals'. And this from but a single passage, one among many more! To hold fast against warring Iranian and Ottoman war machines, to be free of degradation and disintegration, the Armenian people, a `flock without a shepherd', were then: `...desperately in need of an ancient Moses...but none was to be found (p.45).' With no Moses in sight, by the time Tavrizhetsi writes, Armenia, in his own description has become `Armenia proper', reduced to a mere province, Syunik! Explaining why reforming clergymen targeted their efforts in Syunik, he writes that: `It was more appropriate to build monastic retreats and centres there because it is Armenia proper. It is where one finds a dense (Armenian) population and many monasteries and villages (p.226).' There may have been no Armenian Moses and Armenia may have been diminished to `Armenia proper', yet the first half of the 16th century produced nevertheless a generation of Armenian Church activists that would successfully battle for the organisation and soul of a Church that was then moribund. And so in the same breath they would fire a flame for an era of enlightenment that contributed notably to the future of the nation. III. Church again in disarray... Some two centuries after Tovma Medzopetsi's historic restoration of Church headquarters to its native home in Etchmiadzin, Tavrizhetsi shows the institution again in brutal disarray. Rot infests everything about the Church from village parish to Etchmiadzin headquarters. The clergy `sunk in the darkness of deep ignorance' let the ordinary folk live `as if in pagan days.' An `Armenian nation' now `barren through ignorance' had allowed its ancient books of wisdom to `lie abandoned' `as if tree trunks...sunk in ash and soil (p.203).' Renowned centres of education had shut their doors while Church buildings and monasteries had gone to rack and ruin. With `collapsing domes and walls, with foundations holed and encircled by mounds of garbage' (p.241), even Etchmiadzin was deserted by its Catholicos who preferred luxury residence in Yerevan or any other watering hole among the secular aristocracy. Though `still calling themselves priests' the clergy had `lost all title to the name'. Religious devotion, canon, tradition counted for nothing while securing income a great deal. Priesthood and Church had become a `rewarding craft' (p.229), a business organisation. `Some priests had become landlords others prostituted themselves and were bigamous. Others still joined with foreign princes acting as satellites of evil. No more than ordinary secular men of the world, they are preoccupied with trade and agriculture. They had abandoned Church and mass. In fact they did not bother to even go to Church for prayer and Church bells rarely sounded to call people to prayer (p.229).' It was grimier at the pinnacle. To repay vast debts incurred financing their degenerate secular life style, Church bosses had sold off the family silver, `squandering wealth, chalices, silverware whatever had been inherited from the past.' Tainted `with ambition and greed' bishop and archbishop: `When going among the people...are accompanied by royal servants and foreign soldiers with whose oppressive force they extract what they regard as their due. And as the Catholicos secures his position with money and bribery, so too the bishops and the ignorant priests that he ordains. These ignorant, useless men, servants of the womb, permanently drunk, wander around from morn till night with musical troupes as if secular princes, always engaged in lewd banter and persiflage (p.229).' Bared here of all theological or spiritual pretence, Tavrizhetsi displays something of the Church social nature, showing a clergy in collaboration with the foreign oppressors of the common people, subsisting on the spoils of exploitation, venality and parasitism (p.262-263). As he takes the whip to the Church leadership and that without compromise, Tavrizhetsi never loses sight of wider roots of crisis in Armenian life. The blows of `numerous' foreign `bandits and enemies' produces `chaos and ruination' that causes `virtuous works and good order to vanish from Armenians lands (p.199).' Yet, and here a lesson for today, Tavrizhetsi does not exonerate the hierarchy of its own responsibility. The undermining of the sole organising agency capable of protecting Armenian communities from total assimilation was the result of the Church leadership's `own profligacy'. There were certainly other factors, `demands from the taxman' and `other reasons too', nevertheless debt and disarray was `as a result of its own actions (p.20).' The depiction of this veritable Sodom and Gomorrah in the heart of the Armenian Church is however but a preface to the story of a magnificent revival, with images of the aggressive cancer eating away at the Church serving to measure the extent and effectiveness of the reformers about whom Tavrizhetsi tells with such enthusiasm. IV. `An age of enlightenment for the Armenian nation' Concentrating on footholds in eastern Armenia and Syunik in particular, `Armenia proper' as Tavrizhetsi put it, across some three decades of unrelenting endeavour men of the Church such as Sarkis, Ter-Giragos, Moses, the unusually named Pilibos, the remarkable self-educated Barsegh and many others, radically restored Church fortunes. In 1615, Sarkis and Giragos re-established a monastic centre in Syunik devoted to study and enlightenment. Organised almost like an egalitarian commune, immensely disciplined and intellectually and culturally monumentally prolific (p.203-204) it became `mother and parent' to many others. Bishop Pilibos in turn re-opened the: `...Hovanavank academy in Etchmiadzin that went on to produce worthy people, priests, bishops and clergy. Long disused monasteries were again filled with monks and villages and towns served by priests. Half-ruined Churches were restored and many new ones built (p.257).' Though centring on `Armenia proper', Pilibos in particular was conscious of threats to Church stability from endless factional and poaching wars raging among bishops and priests in those constantly fluctuating Ottoman and Iranian state borders across which spread the wide network of the Armenian Church. Pilibos devoted a great deal of energy and time in Istanbul and western Armenia negotiating and demarcating boundaries and prohibiting priests stealing income yielding parishes and parishioners (p.262-264) from each other. Truly for all the good work he here did he also established a harmony among the grubbier grabbing segments of parasitic elites. Nevertheless, Tavrizhetsi rightly judged the work of the 1600s to have opened a new era of `enlightenment for the Armenian people (p.201)'. Having restored something of tradition and good order and through the work of new cadre of educated priests who went out to rebuild and revive parishes, to renovate and rebuild Churches, now incidentally, frequently using stone instead of wood and to open schools (p.251), the Church as an institution, hitherto vulnerable and tottering, stood firmer and sturdier. For this triumph, among the reformers, Pilipos is accorded pride of place. `He stood as a sturdy fortress around the Armenian nation... (and ) removed opponents and enemies whether churchmen, secular, native or foreign...however famed (p270).' There is truth in this encomium for the work of these reformers proved of greater historical import than they themselves could have imagined. In direct proportion to the sturdiness of the Church, Armenian communities they presided over also stood firmer. Better organised to protect income yielding Armenian parishes, the Church in the same measure oversaw, in a core of historic Armenia, a more enduring Armenian realm critical to future nation-formation. Understanding well the benefits to it of efficiently led Armenian communities the Iranian (and Ottoman) state was willing to tolerate them and to a degree even protect them against the ceaseless depredation, assimilation and disintegration to which they were subject to and to which Tavrizhetsi also turns extended attention. In contrast to a deeply indebted and incompetent Melkiset regime, a reformed Church would more collect imperial taxes and repay debts in more business like fashion. This in addition to also being more reliable as an agent to assure a passive and obedient Armenian flock! Yet there were other more fundamental reasons for Iranian and Ottoman toleration of the Armenian Church and its communities. They survived in these empires neither on account of the Church's inherent virtues or dogged valour nor because the Church was needed primarily as an imperial tax collector or disciplinary baton. The Church was permitted a privileged and even internally autonomous estate because of the invaluable economic function of Armenian communities, notably in the Diaspora, for both Empires. The Church was a civil service and administrator for communities that harboured a substantial class of merchants and craftsmen without which the Ottoman and Iranian elites could not do, but who could nevertheless not be readily accommodated within Ottoman and Iranian feudal-militarist socio-political-economic structures and relations. The continued separate existence of Armenian, and other Christian or non-Muslim communities, was a necessary condition for the economic prospering and flourishing of these Empires. Ironically, the better internally organised these communities, the better for Empire and for Armenian national development too! For even as they benefited foreign imperial interests, the more solid Armenian communities that were generated by the 16th century reform movement contributed decisively to the future of a modern Armenian nation. It was these communities that were to be the essential bedrock of the modern nation. There can of course be no dispute that this modern nation was born of a symbiosis of homeland and the Diaspora life with economic and cultural accomplishments in the Diaspora being vast and of the highest order. Recall only the first Armenian printed book, in Venice, in 1512, the first printed Bible, in Amsterdam in 1668, even Tavrizhetsi's volume printed in 1669. Recall also the tremendous subsequent achievements of the Venice and Vienna Mekhitarists whose founder was born in 1670, the year Tavrizhetsi passed away. And the sparkling cultural hubs that were to form in Istanbul and Tbilisi! Yet as magnificent as was this Diaspora cultural flourish, and as magnificent as was its contribution to the national revival, it would have come to nought, as would have the Armenian revival generally had it not had foundations in an `Armenia proper' upon which to rest. Without this bedrock a modern Armenian nation was inconceivable. It was however bedrock that was scarred by relations from which it grew and evolved. Defining modern Armenian history, features of these relations are evident in Tavrizhetsi's `History'; relations between Church reformers and Diaspora economic elites, and occupying foreign states, on which both were dependent and indeed all of often working in tandem. V. Priest, merchant and imperial power With domestic bulwarks sustaining the Church toppled, Tavrizhetsi's band of battling priests turned to the burgeoning class of Diaspora Armenian merchants with whom, as he attests, they had established the closest relations. Replacing priest and prince, now it was priest and Diaspora merchant who stepped into Church to pray for the greater glory of god and of business. Contacts and relations extended as far away as distant Istanbul and Smyrna where Pilibos had met and befriended Anton Chelebi (p.267), a prominent representative of the new wealthy Armenian elite serving Ottoman economy and state. Nearer home in Tavriz, Armenian merchants hearing reformers preach were, Tavrizhetsi writes, so `assuaged spiritually' (p.211) that besides `giving blessings to god' for such men, they offered them substantial financial and economic means for Church reconstruction. Yet this support came with unforgiving strings attached. Diaspora merchants built their fortunes across the entire territory of the Iranian and Ottoman Empires, often in direct collaboration with these imperial states and always overwhelmingly outside historic Armenia. As a result they had little or no social or political interest in the homeland and no concern to develop there any viable economic foundations for possible independent nation formation. Thriving in co-existence with Ottoman and Iranian power the Diaspora elite imposed strict limits on any support for homeland national development. It was to hem in not just the Church but all others forces that were to emerge alongside it to take a part in the process of national development. Diaspora economic elites would permit nothing that would disturb the peace of the imperial states that even as it offered Armenian merchants in the Diaspora the means to riches brutally exploited and destroyed the common people of the homeland. To the limits imposed on the Church's national role by Diaspora elites, can be added the fact that with the growth of Diaspora financing of the Church, the clergy at home became less inclined to modernise economic production on what were often large estates that if developed could have contributed to rooting important pre-conditions for nation formation. Indeed, later, the history of the 19th century Church is pockmarked with examples of enlightened Churchmen, among them the wonderful Karekin Srvandzyants, seeking to turn back this tide. Skewed by the absence of domestic economic fortifications, the national revival was bent further by a Church that in addition to dependency on Diaspora wealth also remained locked into a syndrome of dependency on foreign states, one that had been the format of its existence since the crumbling of Armenian statehood. To overwhelm the corrupt Melkiset regime, reformers had to turn to none other than Shah Abbas (p.16-218) before whom they are depicted in a grovelling posture, seeming to grasp that without his sanction they could expect little or no success. The Shah here seized opportunity. Blessing the reformers would serve Iran well and additionally help placate and ease relations with Armenian communities forced into Iran. It would also stem Armenian inclinations to turn to his Ottoman adversaries. Trimmed by Diaspora elites, the Church also willingly trimmed its own wings tailoring and narrowing its own social and national ambitions to suit the privileged relationship it too had established with occupying powers. As payment for its role in servicing and controlling communities so commercially profitable to the Empire, the Church had acquired significant social and economic rights. Fearful of losing these, like Diaspora merchants, the Church would also limit reforming ambition fearful of upsetting the giver of its privilege. Thus it would become even less responsive to the plight, the protest and the interests of its parishioners. There were of course the exceptions among the more radical trends within the Church, but it was not these that determined the national movement's overall direction. Reliant on Diaspora capital and ensnared by foreign states the 16th century reformers even as they registered a remarkable cultural revival and erected powerful organisational fortifications for Armenian life, they could not and did not go beyond to elaborate any independent political vision or ambition. In the future, even as the national movement did produce a political programme of sorts it was premised on pleas to foreign states to solve Armenian national troubles. Yet for all this, Tavrizhetsi's reformers deserve the praise he heaps upon them. For besides the bedrock of community they helped preserve, they did their part in extending the longevity of a Church that from the standpoint of nation-formation was, more than a spiritual refuge, a vast store of cultural, artistic, intellectual and linguistic material that was to be put to use in the course of 18th and 19th century Armenian nation building. VI. Evaluations and the sign posting of our future Arakel Tavrizhetsi has not been dealt a happy hand by posterity. Devotees of classical Armenian often decry his plain, simple language that enriched by folk phraseology and terminology verges sometimes on the speech of the common people. Modernists are often exasperated by his hagiographic excesses, his flamboyant accounts of miracles, displays of superstition and the decidedly surreal depictions of famine and cannibalism that read like a pot boiler horror story. Literary critics and historians in turn might essay scorn for flawed structure, chronological and narrative incoherence, and even charge Tavrizhetsi with producing little more than an unsatisfactory anthology incorporating much material authored by others. Nationalist too may be disappointed. Despite claims to the contrary, Tavrizhetsi shows no signs of being animated by any grand patriotic ambition. His `History' has no thread linking his `Armenia proper' to an ancient past of independent statehood with noble and estates houses such as those of the Mamikonians or Bagratounis. His conception of Armenian nationality moreover is narrowed to and defined in major part by affiliation to the Armenian Church. Armenia as a distinct socio-political entity has only the haziest presence. When describing reforming churchmen being urged to take leadership within Armenian communities, it is striking that he names these to be situated in Kurdistan, in Turkey, in Georgia and Iran but never in an Armenia (p.234, 243, 247). Still, none of Arakel Tavrizhetsi's purported or real sins condemn him to damnation! A precious metal remains precious even when only visible through layers of mere ordinary, even corrupted matter. As always, that which we inherit from the past requires still varied forms of intellectual and imaginative effort to properly appropriate it. Tavrizhetsi's `History' is an artistically and intellectually impressive account of the catastrophe of Shah Abbas's deportations, all the more so for being fired by a humanist passion. Based on personal recollections and on numerous witness accounts it also stands as cogent polemic against both pro-Shah Abbas and pro-Ottoman falsifiers of history. His heartrending record of the suffering of the Armenian people at the hands of both is a necessary riposte to those who claim that Armenians benefited from one or the other tyrannical state. Tearing apart obnoxious attempts to humanise Shah Abbas on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the founding of his dynasty, Tavrizhetsi reminds us of that barbarism against the common people, of all subjugated nationalities, that was the foundation for the monarchical Iranian renaissance! Furthermore, Tavrizhetsi's text offers a first view from a historical cusp. Reflecting backwards it completes an account of the disintegration of classical, ancient Armenian life in historic Armenia. Looking forward it signposts significant features of modern Armenian national development - the revival of an `Armenia proper' coinciding with a non-territorial, Diaspora social, economic, and even demographic national development that will leave its heavy imprint on Armenian life. Though by no stretch comprehensive Tavrizhets is here the first significant historian to consider Armenian history in the homeland and the Diaspora as different aspects of a single national experience. Hereafter no Armenian historian could write an adequate history of the Armenian people without treating of its experience both in homeland and Diaspora Tavrizhetsi does nevertheless recount in some detail aspects of Armenian life in Iran, in Istanbul and indeed Poland. It is worth noting here a whole chapter, some suggest written by another, devoted to Armenians in Poland battling against attempts to assimilate them. European efforts to stall and eliminate independent Armenian existence were evidently as fierce as those of the Shah! In relation to Poland, Tavrizhetsi clearly hit the nail on the head. Incensed Polish authorities banned his `History'! Ironically while Christian Europe succeeded in assimilating its Armenian communities, the Diaspora in the east survived great oppression to expand and become centres of Armenian life and culture. Besides and we must not forget that `History' in its regional scope, judged by some an invaluable primary source for the 17th century Iranian-Ottoman wars and the Iranian Court. He offers important information on the Ottoman Empire and its fractious principalities and much on the Georgian people also subjected to slaughter and deportation. Demonstrating knowledge of the 17th century war, architecture, art and painters, our insights into life, civilisation and culture of the time are enhanced by accounts of natural calamities that afflicted the land, of great fires and earthquakes, of famines and of cannibalism. All these will help modern historians develop a more rounded picture of the times. * * * * * Arakel Tavrizhetsi was a modest man, confessing in his epilogue that he was academically ill equipped, and by virtue of old age lacking the heart and energy, to write this `History', compelled to do only on the insistence of his superiors. For all his modesty this honourable priest has produced a volume, that grasping essentials of both ancient-medieval and modern-contemporary Armenian life stands as telling testimony of the times. -- Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on Armenian literature. His works on literary and political issues have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open Letter in Los Angeles.
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