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About the Director

 

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Dr. Christopher Sheklian was appointed Director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center in September 2018. Dr. Sheklian is a native of Visalia in the Central Valley of California, who was baptized, raised, and was an altar-server at the St. Mary Armenian Church of Yettem. At the University of California, Berkeley, he majored in Anthropology; during that time he was ordained a deacon by Western Diocesan Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. He continued his education at the University of Chicago, earning first an MA in Anthropology and then his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017 after defending his thesis titled “Theology and the Community: The Armenian Minority, Tradition, and Secularism in Turkey.”

During his graduate education he spent a year studying at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. Immediately following that year, he conducted two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul, living and working with the Armenian community there. He traveled extensively in historic Armenia during his fieldwork. This work was the basis of his doctoral dissertation and much of his current research.

Dr. Sheklian specializes in the Anthropology of religion and secularism, studying the role of liturgy and law on the lives of religious minorities. His published work includes “Promises of Property: Religious Foundations and the Justice and Development Party’s Ambiguous Attitudes towards Religious Minorities” in the journal Turkish Studies and “Venerating the Saints, Remembering the City: Armenian Memorial Practices and Community Formation in Contemporary Istanbul” in the volume Armenian Christianity Today. Prior to his appointment as the Director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, Dr. Sheklian was a Manoogian Post-Doctoral Fellow in Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan, where he was affiliated with the Department of Anthropology. He has taught courses at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, including a required social science core class, a course in ethnographic methods, and a course called ““Singing the Community: Armenian Liturgy and the Anthropology of Ritual and Sound.” As an active scholar, he continues to pursue research on secularism, religious minority rights, and the embodied and emotional aspects of religious life.

 

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