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Barack Obama on the Armenian genocide in 1915

19 May 2015
Author: Administrator
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Barack Obama on the Armenian genocide in 1915

May 20, 2015 at 14.00 the academic talk and seminar delivered by prof. Zolyan S.T. is to be held as part of the international scientific programme of Russian Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Technology (RIAS) Sholokhov Moscow State University for the Humanities.


Starting with Bill Clinton (1994), the reference to the topic of the Armenian Genocide has been the traditional address of the United States President and is called the Armenian Remembrance Day. The text structure used by B. Clinton, and even the lexicon, was later used by George Bush Jr. (up to 90% vocabulary match). The semantics of discourse is based, on the one hand, on the compliance with the continuity of the US approach in the 1920s to the events of 1915. On the other hand, it is founded on the basis of modern foreign realities and avoidance of the term "genocide". Instead, they use the following descriptive speech expressions: mass killings, massacres, crime against humanity, great calamity. Since these applications are not binding, such a phenomenon can be explained as a manifestation of the archaic taboo.

The situation was complicated by the fact that Barack Obama, being the senator, criticized the Republican administration for such an approach and promised, if elected the President: «America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President». However, the tradition to taboo the word "genocide" turns out to be stronger, which forces Obama to modify the discourse. Preserving the formal structure of the canon, Obama creates a post-modernist ambivalent text: it is addressed to different addressees. Each addressee can interpret the text in a different way in accordance with their expectations, and there through they create different inter-textual structures. The image of the speaker (I - we) turns out to be ambivalent as well. This allows President Obama to avoid direct nominations, which are replaced with inter-textual references. The key word is "MEDS EGERN" which is not explained in any way. It is a transliteration of the Armenian term which stands for the genocide in 1915. To the Armenian audience this indicates the full acceptance of their point of view, though for the rest of the world the term is not endowed with any sense. The text, made up in accordance with the post-modernist rules, is not subject to verification, its adequate instrument of analysis being hermeneutics, which results in its deconstruction. Being repeated annually, Obama`s text loses its creative potential and freezes as a ritual one. The speaker ceases to be the author of the text, and becomes the sign of his own - an actor.

Suren Zolyan – an Armenian scholar, a conflictology expert, a social activist and a social commentator, a visiting professor in Sholokhov University. He is the author of several dozens of scientific articles and monographs, many of which were published abroad. He is the author of Russian translations of Armenian spiritual poetry V - XV centuries, the book "Nagorny Karabakh: challenges and conflict". In this book, while applying the rich and actual archival material, he considers a number of methodological and practical issues associated with the origin, development and resolution of regional conflicts. He is the participant of RIAS international program 2014.

Representatives of the Armenian Embassy and the Union of Armenians in Russia are invited to attend the Seminar.

The Seminar takes place in the framework of RIAS International grant program Sholokhov University 2014-2015

More information on research grants in 2015-2016 RIAS Sholokhov University is to be found here:

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