Oral History Project in Armenia

Oral History Project in Armenia

Four years ago ASP initiated an oral history project in Armenia with the purpose of recording the memoirs of political leaders from the Soviet period to early independence. Questionnaires were developed and a special team of interviewers was trained by Professor Gerard Libaridian, director of the project. On site in Armenia this project has been managed by Ms. Gayane Sargsyan of Yerevan.

The purpose of the project, according to the project director, is “to capture for history and make available to historians facts, aspects, dimensions and causalities relevant to Armenia’s development that will otherwise be lost because many important decisions and processes have not left a paper trail during times of transition and chaos; because people forget, willfully or otherwise; because people die before they have a chance to write their memoirs or be interviewed in their old age; because some will never write their memoirs; and because we never know what will be of interest to future historians. What may be a detail today may become a significant fact in the future.”

Thus far some 25 individuals have been interviewed, including Fadey Sargsyan, the last Prime Minister of Soviet Armenia; Valdimir Movsisyan, the last First Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Armenia; Vazgen Manukyan, the first Prime Minister of independent Armenia, Babken Araraktsyan, the first Speaker of the parliament of independent Armenia, and others.
“It has been a very slow process,” explained Prof. Libaridian.  “We have not been able to move as fast as we wanted. We have lost some of our interviewers; Armenia has a very fluid society; young scholars and professionals engaged in our work have moved on and it takes time and effort to find and train new ones. The dominance of politics in the country and the polarization of forces have made it difficult for individuals to focus on the past. In the process, we have lost some important figures we wanted to interview to age and illness."

Nonetheless, the project is going forward and is scheduled to end by April 2012. The interviews, done mostly in Armenian, will be available both in audio-tape and in transcribed format.