Director of Research Presents at International Genocide Conference
June 30, 2013
On June 20, 2013, Daniel Ohanian, Director of Research at the Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education, presented a paper on Canadian humanitarianism and immigration policy within the context of the Armenian Genocide during the tenth biennial conference of the International Association for Genocide Scholars (IAGS). The conference, titled The Aftermath of Genocide: Victims and Perpetrators, Representations and Interpretations, was held at the University of Siena in Florence, Italy. It brought together over 250 scholars to present as part of 85 panels over four days.
Ohanian’s presentation, called “Georgetown, Ontario: A Nexus of Interests and a Home for Armenian Genocide Orphans in Canada”, sought to account for why the Canadian government, which had restricted “Asiatic” immigration since the 1880s and routinely turned away refugees, opened its doors to orphaned genocide survivors in 1923; and why Canadian individuals supported this endeavour, considering that the Armenians were a group with whom they had had no direct experience and who lived some 10,000 km away. Ultimately, between 1923 and 1930, 160 boys, girls, and women were granted express permission to immigrate to Canada under the auspices of the Armenian Relief Association and United Church of Canada. In sum, he argued that humanitarian empathy, nation building, British imperial identity, church interests, and a sense of Christian duty stirred sufficient interest among disparate segments of Canadian society to allow for the bringing down of immigration barriers set up against individuals like these child survivors.
The paper was paired with one by Asya Darbinyan, Deputy Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute in Yerevan, Armenia, titled “Representation and Responsibility: American Publicity and Armenian Orphans”.
Ohanian’s participation at the conference demonstrates the Corning Centre’s commitment to supporting ongoing research into genocide and human rights, especially where they intersect with Canadian history and policy making. For the conference’s full program, its call for papers, and more information on the IAGS, visit http://www.genocidescholars.org/conference/siena-2013.