Elyse Semerdjian, associate professor of history, recently delivered a talk titled “Armenian Women and the Politics of Conversion in Early Modern Ottoman Aleppo” at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. The talk, based on a larger book project addressing the Christian Armenian community of Syria’s northernmost metropole, discusses the factors that prompted Armenian women’s conversion to Islam in the eighteenth century. In addition, the paper explores unique historical moments in which Armenian women resisted conversion in light of the conversion of their husbands and children. Semerdjian is currently the Dumanian Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies at the University of Chicago in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. While in Chicago, she delivered an additional talk for the Chicago Armenian community, titled “The Armenian Humanitarian Crisis in Syria: 1915 and 2013,” which compared the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria today. The talk was delivered June 1 at a benefit held at the All Saints Armenian Apostolic Church in Glenview, Ill. Funds from the benefit will be used to supply meals that will be distributed through the Armenian prelacy to residents in the embattled city of Aleppo.
June 17, 2013