‘Don’t Fall off the Earth’: The Armenian Communities in China from the 1880s to 1950s

Lecture | March 18 | 12-1:30 p.m. | 270 Stephens Hall

 Khatchig Mouradian, Lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Armenian Studies Program

Hundreds of Armenians journeyed eastward to China in the late 19th century in search of opportunity, anchoring themselves in major cities, as well as in Harbin, a town that rose to prominence with the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway. A few thousand others arrived in the region escaping the Armenian Genocide and turmoil in the Caucasus in the years that followed. Many of these Armenians coupled their personal success with a dedication to community life, helping build small but vibrant communities (even a church and community centers) in Harbin, Shanghai, Tientsin, and other cities, despite conflicts, war, and foreign occupation that beset the history of China in the first half of the 20th century. After the Chinese Communist Revolution, Armenians fled the country mainly in two directions: Soviet Armenia and the Americas. In this illustrated lecture, Mouradian presents the rich, yet understudied, history of the Armenian communities in China based on interviews and archival research in China, Armenia, and the US.