What is Houshamadyan?

Houshamadyan is the name of a non-profitmaking association that was founded in Berlin, Germany, in 2010. It has a basic mission: to reconstruct and preserve the memory of Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire through research. In this connection, this website (www.houshamadyan.org) will be the means best suited to reflect the results of our Association’s work. It is for this reason that the maintenance of the website, finance, further development, finalisation and enrichment is the Houshamadyan Association’s first aim.

The sources of finance for Houshamadyan are, at present, individual gifts. We are hopeful that among those who visit us, some will be found who will encourage this work by giving donations.

Our research encompasses all aspects of the history of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, including social history, the history of daily life, local microhistory, dialects, music, literature, material culture and so on. Also of special importance to us are the collection and preservation of culturally valuable artefacts of all kinds produced by the Ottoman Armenians such as musical recordings of historical value, old photographs, pictures, old film footage and so on. Similarly important to our work are documents bearing on Ottoman Armenian history such as printed books, periodical publications and archival material, or papers in individual collections such as correspondence, unpublished notes, official documents, autobiographical details etc. The contents of these kinds of collections may be scanned at high quality then the scans sent to our address. We also want documenting oral history by recording interviews and related materials.

All the things briefly outlined above are the basic materials for the subjects published on our website.

Later, when the work on the website stabilises, the Houshamadyan Association also plans to organise scholarly conferences and lectures as well as exhibitions concerning the above-mentioned themes connected with the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Similarly, future work will include the publication of specialist works on these themes. In this case, special subjects already published in the pages of our website will be chosen, re-edited and prepared for publication.

This website will be pivotal to Houshamadyan’s work. We are convinced that the internet is the most practical, influential and immediate means of carrying out the wide scope of work required to reconstruct the Ottoman Armenian memory. More than this, it is our aim to create a collaborative website to which each individual visitor will have the ability to make comments or input the things that are in his possession – photographs, books, memoirs, information etc – so that it’s pages may be enriched collaboratively. The visitor will also have the ability to send such items via our electronic address to the Houshamadyan editors.

It is not our plan to make this website solely an Armenian preserve. It is true that the themes chosen are mainly concerned with the Armenians and therefore an important percentage of those accessing the website will be Armenians. Yes, it was the Armenians who were dispossessed and exiled from those regions. Even their memory is often insulted and eradicated in modern Turkey. Thus there is no doubt that our plan will help to give a new value to the Ottoman Armenian memory – once more giving it its proper place in the general Ottoman inheritance. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that this website, concerned with Ottoman Armenian memory, will want to be a place where, through text and multi-media means, the Armenian will ‘recapture’ his lost lands, re-establish himself there to spite the Other – in this case mainly the Turk and the Kurd - who will be the target for fierce attacks, and whose role and place will be less appreciated in the memory of the village, town or city of the past.

On the contrary – we are convinced that the memory of the majority of the villages, towns and cities of the past that are within present-day Turkey’s borders don’t only concern the Armenians. Yes, our subject for study will be the Ottoman Armenian legacy. But that is an indivisible part of the local general inheritance that clearly has been built up through the circumstances of the co-existence of various groups. The Houshamadyan website, in the same way, plans to be the collaborative space for today’s inhabitants of the places we are interested in, for those individuals who are descendants of people from those same places, for social sciences experts, especially the specialists in Ottoman studies and historians among them and all those who believe in the importance of the reconstruction of such a legacy. Finally we are convinced that our work on the reconstruction of the memory of the life lived by Ottoman Armenians will become even richer and more abundant when we turn today’s inhabitants of these areas – individuals who are immediately linked to the ‘soil and water’ of these places - into participants. Then, when our website succeeds in becoming the means of contact where, through united efforts, it will be possible to reconstruct the legacy of the past to a significant degree, we will be able to say that Houshamadyan has achieved one of its aims.

We know that the challenge is a great one. Yes, internet technology gives us the possibility to gather various, scattered and more and more difficult to obtain historiographical sources and artefacts. In this sense we already have, at our disposal, a rich quantity of sources that allows us to begin such large-scale work. But the whole question is of the reconstruction of the memory of the approximately three thousand Ottoman villages, towns and cities that were inhabited by Armenians. Perhaps it will be impossible to find information about every one of them, and the sources available to us for others might be very scanty. But Houshamadyan is a long-term project. Revisions to the website always give us the opportunity to refresh and enrich our texts and multimedia subjects.

Our website, in this way, is an ever-open invitation addressed to all those visitors to it who wish to put their own material at Houshamadyan’s disposal. We are therefore ready to accept every kind of material (articles, books, archival materials, photographs, maps, recordings, film and so forth) that can bring something new to our work. Our e-mail address for questions about this subject is houshamadyan(at)googlemail.com and we are ready to immediately to provide details of the use, conditions, and author’s rights concerning any items that would be sent to us.