Monthly Archives: May 2012

Genocide Under the Ottoman Empire Discussed in Tampa

In April, the University of South Florida (USF) Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center welcomed historian Ronald Grigor Suny for its second Armenian Studies event in six months. Turnout was exceptional, with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance.

Suny explored a variety of historic justifications for and ramifications of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) as well as killing and deportations of Greeks, Arabs, Assyrians, and others, under the Ottoman Empire. He spoke of first-hand research conducted during numerous visits to Turkey over a 20-year period. During visits to Kurdistan, he spoke with Kurds regarding their historic memory of and, sometimes, participation in the Genocide, having been bribed and coerced by its orchestrators. Most importantly, Suny described a relationship between the marginalization of the Kurdish population in present-day Turkey and the denial of the Armenian Genocide, suggesting that if the Turkish government were to acknowledge the Genocide, removing the ‘national security’ implications it uses as justification now, it would remove a tenet of their justification for failing to grant Kurdistan autonomy.

The talk also related what Dr. Suny sees as hopeful steps, from large, unimpeded demonstrations taking place in Turkey, and his own Workshop for Armenian/Turkish Scholarship (WATS) collaborations, where Turkish and Armenian scholars come together to explore the essential truths of the Armenian Genocide.

“Dr. Suny explained in a highly convincing manner how the reluctance of the current Turkish government to admit to the Armenian genocide was linked to the current Turkish-Kurdish conflict in Eastern Anatolia,” said USF History Professor Kees Boterbloem. “He pointed out, encouragingly, that this denial, a standard adhered to by all of Turkey’s governments since the 1920s, may have had its day.”

The audience discussion that followed the talk raised interesting questions about France and Turkey and admission to the European Union, and an understanding of the difference between the official Turkish government line and the feelings of the Turkish populace.

The USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center wishes to express gratitude to the USF History Department and Golfo Alexopoulos for their sponsorship of this important event.

The Armenian Studies collection at the USF Tampa Library continues to grow, with the acquisition of materials in a wide range of languages. Please contact Merrell Dickey to learn how you can support this initiative: (813) 974-1654 or



St. Mary Armenian Church Hosts 3rd Annual Food & Music Festival

St. Mary Armenian Church Hosts 3rd Annual Food & Music Festival

“Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Breezy; Chance of rain 90%.”

By Robyn & Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors

That was the weather forecast for Saturday, April 21, 2012, the first day of St. Mary Armenian Church Food and Music Festival in Cooper City, Florida.

Did the threat of miserable weather keep the faithful and hungry from attending? Not in the least! It did, unfortunately, affect the children’s outdoor activities – sorry kids!

The church’s fellowship hall was buzzing with activity – live music was provided by ‘The Mediterraneans’, and a DJ filled in during their breaks; fortunes were being read in Armenian coffee cups in the ‘café’, guests purchased trinkets, food to-go, and a sundry of other products. (Yes, I bought another cookbook; couldn’t help myself!)

Doug and I went with two of our ‘odar’ (non-Armenian) buddies, Bonnie and David, who love Armenian food. We dined on lule kebab, pilaf, cheese boregs, lahmajoun, yalanchi, kufteh, hummus, babaganoush, eech, Armenian coffee, and assorted desserts. We rolled out of the hall with huge smiles on our faces!

I understand that Father Vartan Joulfayan, pastor of St. Mary Armenian Church, used his special blend of herbs and spices to season the kebab in preparation for the feast. As guests arrived he greeted them with a warm welcome, and as the pace picked up in the hall, he pitched right in and bussed tables. As we were leaving, Father Vartan was taking photos of the hard-working women who took a moment to link arms and dance behind the food service counter. (Talk about an uplifting atmosphere!)

We’re so glad we didn’t let an ominous weather forecast prevent us from attending another delicious Armenian Food and Music Festival in south Florida!