The 20th century was a time when a number of collapsed and nation states emerged.
“After the First and Second World Wars, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, as well as the USSR once again proved that history teaches people nothing,” ASPU Rector Ruben Mirzakhanyan said addressing the participants of a three-day conference that started at ASPU on Thursday, October 24.
In his opening remarks at the conference entitled “Collapse of Empires in the 20th Century: New Countries and New Identities” he spoke about the recent meeting of leaders of Turkish-speaking countries, who again called to create a Turkish empire.
"The latest events in northern Syria are practical proof of that terrible and centuries-old plan. With the attack on Syria they contradict a simple truth: Empires, like prehistoric animals, have no future and are doomed to death,” said Professor Mirzakhanyan. He added that the fact that the conference will be continued in Artaskh will prove yet again that imperial ambitions and moods have no future.
The international conference organized joined by the Faculty of History and Law (ASPU) and the sentre for Foreign Languages, Literatures and Civilizations of the University of Lille (France) brought together scholars from France, Hungary, Spain, Slovakia and Artsakh. The purpose of the conference is to discuss the cultural and political foundations for the formation of new states and to understand how nation states have evolved. These developments are inextricably linked to a new interpretation of the historical past.
Edgar Hovhannisyan, Dean of the Faculty of History and Law at ASPU, stressed the importance of the conference not only for the University, but also for the internationalization of the Faculty. He stressed that the conference will give students and lecturers an opportunity to hear the views of foreign scientists on important geopolitical events of the 20th century.
When we say the 20th century, we mean two great phenomena: the First and Second World Wars as well as the collapse of empires and the emergence of new states. Armenia is in a region that has been a crossroad since ancient times and included in empires. We, better than any other nation, understand what it means to be part of an empire, with its positive and negative consequences,” Mr. Hovhannisyan stressed.
Garik Galstyan, Associate Professor at the University of Lille in France, emphasized that this is a great scientific topic uniting Armenian and French colleagues. ‘Armenia has long been part of empires. Now France is part of the European Union, a structure that can be classified as an empire.
When changes occur, it also leads to changes in values. We all come from European countries which have a paradox of values. They are human rights defenders, but at the same time they are colonizers, who use dual values in the countries they colonize,” Garik Galstyan said. He added that the fall of empires brings about new political, religious and economic empires which have a new quality. They are also doomed to collapse.
He says Brexit can be considered as the beginning of the end of the European Union. Speaking about the place of identity in empires, Garik Galstyan added that diversity is wealth for everyone and empires have to adjust to being more legitimate. “The analysis of the past can help us understand the present and be guidance for the future,” he stressed.
Speaking about the reasons for the fall of various empires, Samvel Poghosyan, Professor of the Chair of Armenian History, said the collapse of the Russian Empire enabled Armenians to restore their state. The Soviet Armenia and later the Third Republic of Armenia were created on the basis of the first Republic of Armenia.
The conference continued in subsections with the participants discussing the ties with the imperial, colonial past as presented in history, their expression through the formula of "national history versus imperial history,” distortion of facts, new approaches to the historical past, which become an element of the unification or internal division for new nations.
Armenian and foreign scholars also discussed the main trends characterizing the development of historiography, review of national and imperial histories, new approaches to interpreting past and contemporary stories in post-colonial or post-imperial societies, etc.
The three-day conference entitled “Collapse of Empires in the 20th Century: New Countries and New Identities” will continue in Artsakh.