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Faculty

Sebouh Aslanian


Associate Professor & Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History


Contact Information

Email    saslanian@history.ucla.edu
Office  7383 Bunche Hall
Phone  
I am currently working on two book projects simultaneously.

The first is a history of early modern global Armenian print culture and is provisionally titled Early Modernity and Mobility: Port Cities and Printers Across the Armenian Diaspora, 1512-1800. Under contract with Yale University Press, the book rethinks in novel and insightful ways both the role of mobility in the early modern period in global history and the rise and development in that historyof Gutenberg print culture across the early modern diasporic Armenian communities in the port cities of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean world.  Early Modernity and Mobility follows my earlier challenge and call to world or global historians to eschew the impersonal grand narratives of global history that tend to homogenize the past, overlook heterogeneity and complexity, and create “flattened” accounts of history. Rather than pursue such sweeping macro narratives of the rich human experience, I advocated for what I and Tonio Andrade were the first to call a “global microhistory” where large arguments are made on the basis of microanalysis and from a smaller vantage point. In an earlier publication in the pages of the American Historical Review, I had argued that “Microhistory’s attention to details or ‘trifles’…promises to restore the role of human agency and subjectivity to the largely agency-devoid macro-narratives of social history that penetrated the discipline of world history at a time when it was on the rise in the 1990s.” The book also engages with an earlier invitation to scholars in the specialized field of Armenian studies to shun what I called “autonomous history”—characterized by methodological nationalism or insularity along with blithe indifference to larger debates in the social sciences and humanities—and to embrace global history and its “interactive” approach to studying the rich past of the Armenians. In Early Modernity and Mobility, I take up these two sets of challenges and apply them to the writing of early modern Armenian history. First, I rely on microhistorical analysis to reach larger, more global conclusions about the textured nature of Armenian diasporic early modernity (a topic and periodization that has yet to exist in the field) and the role in it of print culture, all the while holding on to the global microhistorian’s mission of avoiding “flat” narratives and restoring agency to global history’s main protagonists who often remain faceless in large-scale studies. To trace the outlines of Armenian early modernity, I examine biographies of mobile and itinerant  printers, publishers, merchant benefactors, and even book censors. I follow these individuals and their books and presses as they moved across bodies of water, large and small, as well as continents, in short from one location in the global Armenian diaspora to another. My analysis and coverage span a broad swath of the early modern world from London and Amsterdam in the West, to Saint Petersburg in the North, Venice, Marseille, Livorno, Constantinople and New Julfa in the middle, and Surat, Madras, and Calcutta in the East. Second, in line with my earlier critique of Armenian Studies as a species of area studies with its insular, autonomous methodology, Early Modernity and Mobility thus embraces larger discussions and debates in early modern global history and self-consciously and critically grapples with the dominant annales-style historiography of the book known as l’histoire du livre. Despite its dominant influence in Euroamerican scholarship this approach has remained either entirely unknown to earlier studies of Armenian print culture, or only tangentially connected to it.

My second book project is provisionally titled Signed, Sealed, and Undelivered: The Voyage of the Santa Catharina and a Global Microhistory of the Indian Ocean, c. 1738-1756.”  A narrative microhistory of trade and politics in the early modern Indian Ocean, the book relies on 2,000 pieces of mercantile and family correspondence, commercial contracts, and other papers stored on an Armenian-freighted ship, the Santa Catharina and seized by the British navy in 1748. The book unpacks these letters, now stored at the High Court of Admiralty, and probes them to understand economic, cultural, and political histories of Indian Ocean arena and emerging commercial and contractual isomorphism in the age of Empire.

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.

Degrees

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

Awards

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.

Grants

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.

Selected Publications

Books 

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); pages 1-26, 27-93


Scholarly Articles and Book Chapters: 

"“Many have come here and have deceived us”: Some Notes on Asateur Vardapet (1644-1728), An Itinerant Armenian Monk in Europe*", Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift Fur Armenische Philologie (2019): 134-194.

"Une vie sur plusieurs continents Microhistoire globale d’un agent arménien de la Compagnie des Indes orientales, 1666-1688", Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales (2018): 19-55.

"From "Autonomous" to "Interactive" Histories: World History's Challenge to Armenian Studies", An Armenian Mediterranean, Words and Worlds in Motion (2018): 81-125.

"The Great Schism of 1773", Reflections of Armenian Identity in History and Historiography (2018):  83-131.

“Prepared in the Language of the Hagarites: Abbot Mkhitar’s 1727 Armeno-Turkish Grammar for Vernacular Western Armenian,” Journal for the Society of Armenian Studies (2017): 54-86.

“Julfan Merchants and European East India Companies: Overland Trade, Protection Costs and the Limits of Collective Self-Representation in Early Modern Safavid Iran,” in Mapping Safavid Iran, edited by Nobuaki Kondo (Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 2016).

Mijmayrts‘amak‘ayin kent‘agh mĕ. Marcara Awakshēnts‘i fransakan arevelahntkakan ĕnkerut‘ean hay tnorenin hamasharhayin manrapatmut‘iwnĕ (1668-1688),” Handes Amsorea, (2016): 148-272. Western Armenian version of my essay on Marcara Avachintz and the French Compagnie des Indes Orientales, 1668-1688).

“Too Much Memory? Remembrance and Forgetting at the Crossroads of the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide,” Jadaliyya, 21 April 2015. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/21445/too-much-memory-remembering-and-forgetting-at-the-

Jughayets‘i Vacharakanner ev evropakan arevelahdkakan ěnkerutyunner, ts‘amak‘ayin arevtur, pashtpanut‘ean tsakhser ev havak‘akan inknanerkayats‘man sahmannerě vagh ardi Sefean irani mēj (Armenian translation of Julfan Merchants and European East India Companies....) Handes Amsorea (2015): 237-290. (Western Armenian version of my Julfan Merchants and European East India Companies,” essay published in 2016.

“The Early Arrival of Print in Safavid Iran: New Light on the First Armenian Printing Press in New Julfa, Isfahan (1636–1650, 1686–1693),” Handes Amsorya (Vienna/Yerevan: 2014): 381-468.

“Reader Response and the Circulation of Mkhitarist Books Across the Armenian Communities of the Early Modern Indian Ocean,” Journal for the Society of Armenian Studies, 22, 1 (2013): 31-70.

“Port Cities and Printers: Reflections on Early Modern Global Armenian Print,” Book History 17 (2014): 51-93.

“AHR Conversation—How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History,” in American Historical Review (December, 2013): 1468–69.

“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

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

Interviews

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

Current Courses by Term

2020 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium BC to AD 11th Century

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2020 Spring Quarter

Survey of Middle East, 500 to Present: 1300 to 1700

Previous Courses by Term

2019 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Modern and Contemporary Times, 19th and 20th Centuries

Topics in World History

2018 Fall Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

Capstone Seminar: History--Near East

2018 Spring Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2018 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

Methods in Armenian Oral History

2017 Fall Quarter

Topics in World History

2017 Spring Quarter

Topics in World History

2017 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Modern and Contemporary Times, 19th and 20th Centuries

2016 Fall Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2016 Spring Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

Topics in World History

2016 Winter Quarter

Survey of Middle East, 500 to Present: 1300 to 1700

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

2015 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Modern and Contemporary Times, 19th and 20th Centuries

Capstone Seminar: History -- Near East

Topics in History: Near East

2014 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Asian Civilizations: History of Middle East

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2014 Winter Quarter

Survey of Middle East, 500 to Present: 1300 to 1700

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2013 Fall Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Modern and Contemporary Times, 19th and 20th Centuries

Capstone Seminar: History -- Near East

Topics in History: Near East

2013 Winter Quarter

Topics in World History

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2012 Fall Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

Capstone Seminar: History -- Near East

Topics in History: Near East

2012 Winter Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2011 Fall Quarter

Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

Capstone Seminar: History -- Near East

Topics in History: Near East

Previous Courses by Course

HIST 214
Topics in World History

2019 Winter Quarter

2017 Fall Quarter

2017 Spring Quarter

2016 Spring Quarter

HIST 107C
Armenian History: Armenia in Modern and Contemporary Times, 19th and 20th Centuries

2019 Winter Quarter

2017 Winter Quarter

2015 Winter Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

HIST 191F
Capstone Seminar: History--Near East

2018 Fall Quarter

HIST 107B
Armenian History: Armenia from Cilician Kingdom through Periods of Foreign Domination and National Stirrings, 11th to 19th Centuries

2018 Fall Quarter

2018 Spring Quarter

2016 Fall Quarter

2016 Spring Quarter

2014 Fall Quarter

2014 Winter Quarter

2013 Winter Quarter

2012 Winter Quarter

HIST 107A
Armenian History: Armenia in Ancient and Medieval Times, 2nd Millennium B.C. to A.D. 11th Century

2018 Spring Quarter

2018 Winter Quarter

2016 Fall Quarter

2016 Winter Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

HIST 212
Methods in Armenian Oral History

2018 Winter Quarter

HIST 105B
Survey of Middle East, 500 to Present: 1300 to 1700

2016 Winter Quarter

2014 Winter Quarter

HIST 191F
Capstone Seminar: History -- Near East

2015 Winter Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

HIST 201J
Topics in History: Near East

2015 Winter Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

HIST 9D
Introduction to Asian Civilizations: History of Middle East

2014 Fall Quarter

HIST 101
Topics in World History

2013 Winter Quarter