Beginning in 1946, tens of thousands of Armenians living in the Diaspora responded to to an orchestrated appeal made by Soviet officials and Armenian organizations to “go back” home to Armenia. While most of the “repatriates” [հայրենադարձ / hayrenatarts] hailed from the Middle East and Europe, scores of American-Armenians set sail for Armenia. It would be the beginning of unimaginable cultural and economic hardships as well as a set-back to those who had longed for their ancestral homeland. Diaspora-born “repatriates” struggled to survive and fit in to post-World War II Soviet Armenia, which would never really be home for them.
Born in Soviet Armenia at the height of the Cold War, artist and writer Hazel Antaramian-Hofman is the daughter of diaspora-born repatriates. She will give a multi-media presentation entitled, Repatriation and Deception: Post World War II Repatriation to Soviet Armenia on Thursday, March 20 at the Zohrab Center in New York.
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Using music, images and text, Repatriation and Deception includes gripping stories and telling photographs to portray what the repatriates experienced and how they were deceived. Antaramian-Hofman will review the ethnographic history and propaganda used to entice diasporan Armenians from France, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Palestine and the United States to “return” to what was for most of them an unknown and unrecognizable homeland, fully Sovietized by Stalin, and economically shattered in the wake of the second World War.
She will focus on the American-Armenians, the most economically advanced of the repatriates and the least in number.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:00PM and last one hour. A question and answers session and reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at (212) 686-0710 or firstname.lastname@example.org. #ZICrepatriation
In 1947 Antaramian-Hofman’s parents were in their youth when they “repatriated” with their families to an Armenia under Stalin. Her father was born in the United States and her mother, in France.
After the Khruschev thaw, at the age of five, Antaramian left the Armenian S.S.R. for the United States with her family. It never occurred to her growing up in Wisconsin that her parents, uncles, and grandparents, along with around 100,000 Armenians from around the world, had lived a little known period of noteworthy Armenian history. While thoroughly assimilated in America, her sense of “Armenian-ness” in her later years created a desire to look further into a history where Armenians from the diaspora were part of a poorly-constructed program to repopulate and advance Sovietized Armenia.
In 2010, Antaramian-Hofman began to document the Great Repatriation to Soviet Armenia by interviewing surviving repatriates, scanning photographs, and conducting archival research in the United States and in Armenia. In March 2013, she held the first lecture as part of a presentation series of her ongoing research that included her artistic response to selected personal accounts and archival photographs. As new research material was collected, by way of interviews or archival data, the lectures became further enriched.
Hazel Antaramian-Hofman is an award-winning artist, published writer, and an independent scholar, who is currently working on a brief narrative of her project to accompany a commissioned 2015 theatrical production of the Great Repatriation at Fresno State University by renowned playwright Richard Kalinoski. In addition to an M.A. in Arts and Design, Antaramian-Hofman holds an M.S. in Environmental Science. Late last year she lectured at the Zohrab Center on an intriguing Armenian medieval manuscript illumination portraying King Gagik I and his family.
The multi-media presentation, Repatriation and Deception will take place on Thursday, March 20 at 7:00PM and will last one hour. A question and answer session and reception will follows. The event is free and open to the public. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at (212) 686-0710 or email@example.com. #ZICrepatriation