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Associate Professor & Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History

[Endowed Chair Established by the Armenian Educational Foundation] Ph.D. with Distinction Columbia University, Masters (New School for Social Research) & BA McGill University

Office: 7383 Bunche Hall
Phone: 310-825-4261
Fax: 310-206-9630
E-mail: saslanian@history.ucla.edu

Mailing Address:

Sebouh Aslanian
UCLA Department of History
6265 Bunche Hall
Box 951473
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1473

Class Websites


Early modern world and Armenian history, Middle Eastern Studies

Research Interests

Classes Taught

History 105B - Middle East, 1100-1700: From the Crusades and Mamluks to the Age of the Gunpowder Empires

History 107A - Armenia and Armenians in World History: From Ethnogenesis to the Eleventh Century CE

History 107B - Armenia and Armenians in World History: From the Medieval to the Early Modern Period

History 107C - Armenian and Armenians in World History: Empire, Diaspora, and Nation-State

History 191F-1/201J-1 - Port Cities and Printers: An Introduction to Early Modern World and Armenian History, 1500-1800

History 191F/201J - From Venice and Istanbul to Isfahan and Madras: Explorations in Early Modern Armenian History, 1500-1800

History 596 - Paper Instruments and Networks in Early Modern Trade: The Role of the Commenda and the Bill of Exchange in Early Modern Indian Ocean and Julfan Trade, 1600-1800


AHR Conversation: How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History

I am currently working on several book projects.

The first is a narrative microhistory of the Early Modern Indian Ocean, using 2,000 pieces of mercantile and family correspondence and other papers stored on an Armenian-freighted ship, the Santa Catharina, seized by the British Navy in the Indian Ocean in 1748 and shipped to London to be presented as “exhibits” for a high stakes trial at the High Court of Admiralty. The book is an attempt to introduce microhistorical work into the largely anonymous and impersonal macrohistorical tradition that has characterized the writing and teaching of global or world history. It will treat the Santa Catharina along with some of the individuals associated with its ill-fated voyage as microhistorical objects for an understanding of early modern globalization in the Indian Ocean arena and tease out from the cargo of letters and other papers stored in the hold of the Santa Catharina the social and economic history of the Indian Ocean in the Early Modern period. Provisional title: The Voyage of the Santa Catharina: A Global Microhistory of the Early Modern Indian Ocean.

My second project is on early modern Armenian history provisionally entitled From Venice and Istanbul to Isfahan and Madras: Explorations in Early Modern Armenian History. My book is an attempt to rethink and (re)conceptualize early modern Armenian history in light of theoretical discussions in world history. It will also be the first scholarly endeavor in Armenian Studies to introduce the world historical periodization scheme of “early modern world” into Armenian Studies and historiography. My project argues that the period from roughly 1500 to 1800 in Armenian history stands out as a remarkably coherent period, one that shares many of the characteristics that world historians in recent decades have identified as the “early modern world.” My book project seeks to study this period by examining the rise in Armenian history of two interconnected transregional networks: a Catholic Armenian missionary network based in San Lazzaro, Venice, and a global mercantile network of Julfan Armenians headquartered in New Julfa, Isfahan, but with nodes and settlements stretching from London to Manila.

In addition, I am also working on an annotated translation of a rare Classical Armenian manuscript history of eighteenth century Mughal India and Bengal entitled Patmut‘iwn Hndustana [History of Hindustan] written by a Julfan merchant named Thomas Khojamalian in 1769 in Gwalior, India.

Selected Publications


From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa, (Berkley: University of California Press, 2011)

Dispersion History and the Polycentric Nation: The Role of Simeon Yerevantsi’s Girk or Kochi Partavjar in the 18th Century National Revival (Venice: Bibliotheque d’armenologie “Bazmavep,” 39, 2004)


“A Reader Responds to Joseph Emin’s Life and Adventures: Notes towards a History of Reading in Late Eighteenth Century Madras,” Handes Amsorya (Vienna/Yerevan, 2012), 363-418.

‘Wings on their Feet and Wings on their Heads’: Reflections on Five Centuries of Global Armenian Print,” Armenian Weekly, (August 28, 2012).

La fioritura culturale delle comunità armene in India e nel mondo dell’Oceano indiano e lo sviluppo del pensiero sociale e politico durante il secolo XVIII” [The Cultural Flourishing of the Armenian Communities in India and the Indian Ocean World and the Development of their Social and Political Thought during the Eighteenth Century] in Armenia: Impronte di una civilta' eds. Levon B. Zekiyan, Gabriela Uluhogian, and Vartan Karapetian, (Venice, 2011)

Encyclopaedia Iranica entries for “The Sceriman/Shahrimanian family of Julfa” and “Armenians in India.” The latter is published -- Encyclopaedia Iranica, XV, 3 (2009): 240-242. Forthcoming online: www.iranica.com

“Geniza, Aden, and Indian Ocean Trade in the Middle Ages: A Review Article,” Journal of Global History, (2008) 3: 451-457

“India Before Europe” (book review), Journal of Early Modern History, Volume 13, Number 1, 2009, pp. 83-85

“Some Notes on a Letter sent by an Armenian Priest in Bengal in 1727,” in Between Paris and Fresno: Armenian Studies in Honor of Dickran Kouymjian, Barlow Der Mugrdechian, ed. (Costa Mesa: Mazda Press: 2008): 379-428

“‘The Salt in a Merchant’s Letter’: The Culture of Julfan Correspondence in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean,” Journal of World History, 19, 2 (2008): 127-188

“The Circulation of Men and Credit: The Role of the Commenda and the Family Firm in Julfan Society,” The Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient, 50, 2 (2007): 124-171

“Social Capital, ‘Trust’ and the Role of Networks in Julfan Trade: Informal and Semi-formal Institutions at Work,” Journal of Global History 1, 3 (2006): 383-402

“Trade Diaspora versus Colonial State: Armenian Merchants, the East India Company and the High Court of Admiralty in London, 1748-1752,” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 13, 1 (2006): 37-100.

“Hndkahay vacharakanutean patmutyunits (XVIII d.skizb)” (From the History of Indo-Armenian Trade (Beginning of the Eighteenth Century)] in Patma-Banasirakan Handes 1, 171 (2006): 254-271

“The ‘Treason of the Intellectuals’: Reflections on the Uses of Revisionism and Nationalism in Armenian Historiography,” Armenian Forum 2, 4 (Spring 2002): 1-38

“Of Colonialism and Anthropology: An Interview with Talal Asad,” Conference: A Journal of Philosophy and Theory, Spring 1994

“A Debate on The Passion of Michel Foucault” (Interview with James Miller), Conference: A Journal of Philosophy and Theory, Spring 1993

“On the Two Marxisms: A Critical History,” La Revue d'etudes politique - McGill - Journal of Political Studies, Spring 1989


MELLON POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW IN WORLD HISTORY, Department of History, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 2009-

MANOOGIAN POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, Department of History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2008-2009.


Recipient of the PEN literary award for the most outstanding first book of the year from UC Press for my book, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (Berkeley: University of California, 2011)

Recipient of the Houshang Pourshariati Iranian Studies Book Award, Middle East Studies Association (MESA), 2011.

My book was also selected by the Committee of the California World History Library as the first book to appear in the prestigious new series, “Author’s Imprint,” that celebrates and recognizes accomplished works by first-time authors.

PhD. Dissertation chosen as the best dissertation in the humanities at Columbia University in 2007 and awarded “distinguished dissertation” award for 2007-2009 by the Society of Armenian Studies.

Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral fellow in World History at Cornell University, NY, 2009-2010.

Manoogian Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2008-2009.

Recipient of the Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship administered by Columbia University for the 1999-2005 academic years.

Recipient of the Columbia University Dissertation Travel Fellowship for 2001-2002 academic year.

Awarded the Dean’s Summer Research Grant, Columbia University for archival research, Venice and Vienna, Summer 2000.

Recipient of the Tavitian Fellowship for the 1998-1999 academic year at Columbia University.

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