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In Memoriam: George Bournoutian, Prolific and Dedicated Scholar

George Bournoutian (1943-2021)

BOSTON, MA – The National Association of Armenian Studies & Research (NAASR) joins with scholars and friends all over the world in mourning the passing of an esteemed colleague, Prof. George Bournoutian (1943-2021). While wishing to honor his stated wishes that no outpourings of sentiment follow his death, out of respect for his enormous contributions we offer this brief appreciation and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.

George Bournoutian was born and raised in Isfahan, Iran. Over the course of a long and productive career he published more than thirty books as author or translator which have been translated into many languages, and he taught at UCLA, Columbia University, Tufts University, New York University, Rutgers, University of Connecticut, and only recently retired after many years at Iona College.

Among his publications are The Khanate of Erevan Under Qajar Rule; A Concise History of the Armenian People; The History of Vardapet Arakel of Tabriz; Two Chronicles on the History of Karabagh; The Travel Accounts of Simeon of Poland; Jambr; The 1823 Russian Survey of the Karabagh Province: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of Karabagh in the Early 19th Century; A Brief History of the Aghuank Region; The 1829-1832 Russian Surveys of the Khanate of Nakhichevan; and Armenia and Imperial Decline: The Yerevan Province, 1900-1914.

George Bournoutian with Nancy Kolligian and Marc Mamigonian after a lecture in 2009

In addition to his writings, George was a prolific lecturer, giving innumerable talks including many for NAASR over the years in Belmont and all over the U.S. and Canada. He was also a world traveler and led NAASR’s first Armenian Heritage Tour in decades in 2006 to the Republic of Armenia and Historic Armenia.

In 2008, he enriched NAASR’s library immeasurably when he transferred his huge scholarly library, the Ani and George Bournoutian Collection, which has become a cornerstone of the Mardigian Library. NAASR, in turn, was proud to support his work through grants for several of his publications.

George Bournoutian with fellow 2006 NAASR Armenian Heritage Tour travelers George Krikorian, Nancy Kolligian, Judy Kolligian, Van Aroian, Mary Aroian, Bob Bejoian

Former NAASR Chairman Nancy Kolligian recalled that George “was an outstanding scholar who electrified the room when he entered it. I will remember going to Armenia and Historic Armenia with him on our 2006 NAASR trip—we had such a great time.” Current Chairman Yervant Chekijian remembered Bournoutian as “totally committed to the honest exploration of Armenia’s history

NAASR Academic Director Marc Mamigonian remarked that “George was warm, opinionated, unfiltered, brilliant, hilarious, and utterly indefatigable. He was always in the middle of a book project and excited about the next one. While it is difficult to accept that there will be no next book, no one can say that George Bournoutian didn’t get the most out of life, and he leaves an incredible legacy.”

Anyone who ever met George Bournoutian or heard one of his lectures could feel his energy and boundless vitality. Those qualities will endure in his huge scholarly output, which will continue to enrich us, and in our memories of him as a friend and a scholar. He will indeed be missed.

Armenian-Americans at RNC 2012: Support Mitt Romney for President

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, Home of RNC 2012

Every four years, the campaign for the highest office of the land takes place. As candidates from the Republican Party navigated the choppy waters of the primary storm this election season, one man sailed to victory: former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Winning the party’s nomination was no easy feat and on several occasions, the media and members of his own party, were quick to write him off. However, Mitt Romney and his campaign rose to the challenge, and secured the 1,190 Republican Party Delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. No doubt, the battles he faced in the primary contest will come in handy when he goes head-to-head with President Obama.

Among these Republican Party Delegates, who are elected within their respective state party systems, were six Armenian-Americans. The States of Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island were each represented by an official GOP Delegate of Armenian descent.

Harout Samra, an attorney in Miami said, “it was a privilege to attend the Republican National Convention as a delegate for Florida. Coming to the floor of the Convention hall for the first time was very exciting. Frankly, I did not expect to be as moved as I was. It was a great honor to have been selected to represent my fellow Floridians. That came home to me as I reached the floor. I genuinely enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds. The United States is a remarkably diverse place, and I believe this diversity was represented not only in our delegation, but also in those of the other states. Florida’s delegation included first-generation Americans, such as myself, and longtime natives. It included Indian-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and even one Armenian-American.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Harout Samra

“Governor Romney knows and understands the issues that are important to Armenian-Americans. Living in Belmont and serving as the Governor of Massachusetts, he’s had more important contacts and relationships with the Armenian-American community than any President since Ronald Reagan. He will not mislead us and pander to us to get Armenian-American votes like President Obama.

“Governor Romney is the right man for the moment. He understands how to turn around the economy at home and to ensure that America is respected abroad. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney’s top priority will be to create an environment that leads to more jobs and spurs economic growth,” stated Samra.

Another Republican Party Delegate, Bob Semonian, State Chairman of Massachusetts Republican Party-Ethnic Outreach expressed that he was “thrilled to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa this year. Americans want honesty in the White House and Mitt Romney is an honest man who will best represent all of America,” stated Semonian, who also serves as the Armenian-Americans for Mitt Romney Coalition Massachusetts State Chair.

Bob Semonian with Josh Romney

From the Great Lakes State was Krista Haroutunian, who serves as the Republican Party Chair for the 13th Congressional District. She stated, “My time at the 2012 RNC was extremely important and made me proud to be American, an Armenian, and from Detroit, Michigan.” Haroutunian continued, “The first concern of an American, of whatever cultural or ethnic background, is the independence, freedom, and well-being of Americans. This allows us to be able to express concerns for Armenian issues and to assist appropriately.

“Mr. Romney knows that the founding fathers of America had great concerns about dictatorial attitudes and insisted upon a separation of powers – something Mr. Obama has side-stepped for the better part of four years. Mr. Romney wants to return to a Constitutional government through our elected Representatives. Mr. Obama wants all-pervasive government with the decision makers being unelected bureaucrats.

“The choice is clear – constitutional guarantees and responsibilities to preserve the rule of law versus arbitrary actions from a few with no guarantees of the rule of law. For all Armenians and all Americans, Mitt Romney is the best choice.”

Over the course of this year, several Armenian-Americans across the country, including the author, have been challenged on our position of supporting Governor Romney over President Obama. “What do you expect from Romney that will be different from Obama,” is the common intrigue.  To put it plainly, like all Americans, we expect leadership, honesty and values from our elected officials. When it comes to Armenian issues, President Obama failed to fulfill his campaign pledge to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as President. That calls into question his honesty. President Obama’s nomination and subsequent recess appointment of Matthew Bryza to serve as Ambassador to Azerbaijan was opposed by Senators of his own party, not to mention many Armenian-Americans. That calls into question his ability to lead. And the silence of the Obama administration on the destruction, confiscation and profiteering of Christian Armenian religious properties by the Turkish Government, as well as Azerbaijan’s completed destruction of centuries-old Armenian Khachkars at Julfa, call into question his values.

From Fresno to Philadelphia, from Manchester to Miami, from Detroit to Denver, from Waukesha to Washington, DC, Armenian-Americans have expressed their frustration with President Obama, and many former Armenian supporters of his are now backing Mitt Romney for President. In fact, one prominent Armenian-American who supported President Obama in 2008, and is now backing Governor Romney, expressed as much to the author. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, she shared her frustration: “Senator Obama chose to promise, in campaign speeches and written outreach, recognition of the 1915 genocide of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks. He fully understood the importance of that issue to the Armenian American community and indeed to all right thinking Americans.  Americans deserve a President who knows his principles and makes his decisions in accordance with those principles. Americans deserve a President who has integrity. So why come November would I vote for a President who over the course of four years has delivered precious little and lied to us and other communities?”

Indeed, why would we? She then confessed, “I’ll take a chance on Romney.”

This article originally appeared in the October 13, Volume 13 Print Edition of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator.