A conference about new directions in the study of Armenian memory, culture, and displacement


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Memory
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

University of Pennsylvania, Slought

Contributing Institutions

Armenian Studies Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)


Deanna Cachoian-Schanz, David Kazanjian, Veronika Zablotsky

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

118 South 36th St Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce "Infidelities," a conference about new directions in the study of Armenian history, memory, culture and displacement across West Asia and the Middle East to the Americas and back, from March 24 through March 26, 2023. The program is presented in partnership with scholars and programs at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and University of California, Los Angeles.

The field of Armenian Studies is on the verge of a sea change. In the last ten years, scholars and artists have made a bid to shift the field's focus to a broader range of new, interdisciplinary and transnational topics through the lenses of critical theory, feminist theory, queer studies, and postcolonial studies. In collaboration with scholars and programs at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and UCLA, we are convening an international two-day conference to both mark and shape this auspicious moment.

"Infidelities: New Directions in Armenian Studies" will feature international scholars, curators, filmmakers, visual artists, physical theatre performers and a sound performer, all of whom work either directly in, or tangentially to, Armenian Studies, to flesh out new visions for the field and for the understanding of Armenianness. Over two days, our aim is to center critical, queer-feminist, postcolonial and performative approaches to the study of Armenian history, diaspora, memory, language, culture and displacement within and beyond the Middle East, wider West Asia, and the Americas.

Through a series of panels, performances and working groups focused around the polyvalent provocation of "infidelity," we will focus on a spectrum of lively new directions toward which Armenian Studies is currently moving: feminist and queer interventions; cultural studies of hybrid and syncretic identities; aesthetic imaginings of Armenité beyond text and language; new materialisms and revolutionary change in a postsocialist setting; utopian futures beyond the nation-state; necropolitics, post-memory, and alternative imaginaries of the archive; as well as postcolonial critiques and visions of "reconciliation."

At the intersection of the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts, "Infidelities" seeks to open the putative identity "Armenian" to a wide and open-ended field of critical, reflective study and learning. It will augment new avenues for thinking within Armenian Studies through dialogue with scholars positioned outside of the field through interdisciplinary panels that will address an array of topics, including: legacies of land, memory and trauma; urban place-making in displacement; gendered and racialized embodiment and its discontents across various and hybrid geographies; re-imagining of archives; and queering approaches to culture through experimental film, performance, and sound that decenter nationalism, heteropatriarchy, and the re/production of prescribed identities both in the diaspora and in Armenia itself.

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Participating Scholars/Practicioners

Sylvia Alajaji
Hakem al-Rustom
Shushan Avagyan
Arlene Avakian
Houri Berberian
Talar Chahinian
Rachel Goshgarian
Mashinka Hakopian
Karen Jallatyan
Suvir Kaul
Rüya Kılınçkını
Ania Loomba
Joanne Randa Nucho
Ayşe Parla
Nelli Sargsyan
Gayane Shagoyan
Tamar Shirinian
Anoush Suni
Nora Tataryan

Artists / Filmmakers

Kamee Abrahamian (Canada)
Arpi Adamyan (Armenia/USA)
Nancy Agabian (USA)
Özcan Alper (Turkey)
Mischa Badasyan (Germany/Russia)
bavagan (USA/Armenia)
lee williams boudakian (Canada)
Aikaterini Gegisian (Greece)
Marianna Hovhannisyan (Research-based Curator, Armenia/USA)
Emily Mkrtichian (USA)
Tsomak Oga (Armenia/Sweden)
Lara Sarkissian (USA)
Eric Shahinian (USA)
Lousine Shamamian (USA)
James Allister Sprang (USA)
lucine talalyan (Armenia)
Alik Tamar (USA)
Méliné Ter Minassian (France)
Gariné Torossian (Lebanon/USA)
Hrag Vartanian (Art Critic, USA)
Anahid Yahjian (USA)

March 24, 2023


Panel I: Land, Memory & Trauma (Revisited)
Panel II: Feminist & Postcolonial Contestations
Artist Talk and Exhibition
Panel III: Building Community in Displacement*
Film Screening 1: Urban Place-Making*

* Events will take place at the ICA

March 25, 2023


Panel IV: Historical Aesthetics,
Aesthetic Histories
Panel V: Re-Imagining Archives
Film Screening 2: Queering Culture
Roundtable: New Directions?
Final Reception and Sound Performance


This program is made possible through generous support from the Society for Armenian Studies, and, at the University of Pennsylvania, the following sponsors:

Middle East Center (MEC); Department of English; Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Cinema Studies; Russian and Eastern European Studies (REES); Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS); Jewish Studies; Department of the History of Art; Annenberg Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC); Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory; Theorizing; Lauder Institute; Wolf Humanities Center; Ann Matter; SASgov; Gen/Sex; and the University Research Foundation Award

"'Armenia' cannot lean toward existing theories. It cannot be comfortably located in the generally recognized lineaments of contemporary imperialism and received postcolonialism. It has been too much in the interstices to fit such a location. Its history is diversified, with many loyalties cross-hatching so small a place, if indeed it is more a place than a state of mind over the centuries."

— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Other Asias