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ASU welcomes Armenian scholars in women and gender studies

Four scholars from Yerevan State meet in seminar
September 30, 2013

The School of Social Transformation’s program in women and gender studies has welcomed four scholars-in-residence from Armenia’s Yerevan State University (YSU) this semester. The scholars are sitting in on courses, engaging in discussions with faculty across ASU, and developing syllabi and advancing their research threads that intersect with the field of women and gender studies.

The ASU-YSU partnership is funded by a USAID/HED grant to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. ASU’s partnership director is Victor Agadjanian, the E.E. Guillot International Distinguished Professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and a member of the graduate faculty for the gender studies doctoral program. Co-directors are Mary Margaret Fonow, professor of women and gender studies and director of the School of Social Transformation, and Steve Batalden, professor of history and director of the Melikian Center. 

Meet the scholars from Yerevan State University:

Tatevik Sargsyan’s research and teaching interests lie in issues of racial, class and gender inequality in public policy. Sargsyan is interested in the ethical management and delivery of public services, as well as the impact of class and gender differences on political activity and policy initiatives. She is pursuing postgraduate studies in YSU’s Faculty of International Relations, Department of Public Administration, where she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and has been a lecturer since 2010. 

Sargsyan is using her ASU research exchange experience to learn more about best practices in women’s leadership and gender studies, and to further develop course syllabi for courses on Gender and Ethics Management, as well as Gender and Class in Policymaking. She is participating in Cheshire Calhoun’s philosophy course on feminist philosophical literature and Carol Poore’s course on women, politics and policy.

“Women’s and diverse class groups’ involvement in the political process and public life is growing year by year, but many studies point to the lack of proven institutional structures that will provide equal protection of interests in the policymaking processes for all societal groups,” Sargsyan says. “Despite the fact that there are constitutional and legal guarantees for equal rights for public service for all citizens regardless of race, gender, class and beliefs, informal restrictions still exist. I look forward to sharing and applying knowledge related to women’s role in modern society, public life and the policymaking process.”

Anna Gevorgyan earned a bachelor's and master's in Iranian studies at Yerevan State University and is currently a doctoral student and research fellow in YSU’s Center for Civilization and Cultural Studies. Gevorgyan’s field of specialization is Iranian studies, with particular interest in Islamic feminism and feminism in Iran. 

She is using her semester at ASU to develop syllabi for courses at the intersection of women’s studies and religious studies, and is deepening her knowledge of theory and research methods in women and gender studies to support her comparative research on feminist interpretations of religious texts of Islam and Christianity in contemporary times. In addition to observing women’s studies courses taught by Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis, Heather Switzer and Mirna Lattouf’s course in women and religion, Gevorgyan is having weekly discussions with the director of Arabic Studies, Souad Ali, about women's contribution to feminist interpretation of the Quran, and with Yasmin Saikia in the Center for Religion and Conflict about Islam, peacekeeping and women’s contributions to peacemaking.

“Women’s studies has demonstrated to historians of religion that past studies of religions were concerned almost entirely with men’s religion and from men's perspective,” says Gevorgyan, who looks forward to developing courses that will include both men’s and women’s perspectives. She is also building a theoretical base for her research on the attitudes of Ithnaasharia Shia Islam and the Armenian Apostolic church toward women.

Ani Kojoyan’s interests in women’s studies began with her master’s research at YSU, which studied the role of women in the development of the “witchcraft movement” in the Renaissance period and witchcraft as a beginning of feminism in the early Modern period. A lecturer and doctoral student in YSU’s Department of English Language and Literature, she is doing a dissertation on “The Act of Cursing as Part of Women’s Speech Behavior and as a Means of Self-Fashioning and Self-Disguise for Women.” 

Kojoyan eaned a bachelor's and master's in English from YSU, and a second master’s degree in English literature at the University of Oxford. However, her research interests extend beyond language studies. She is interested in women’s studies in literature from social-historical and cultural-anthropological perspectives, women and the body/transformation and metamorphose analysis, women and social change, women and religion, and women and knowledge.

At ASU she is observing the courses Introduction to Gender Studies; Critical Concepts of Gender; Women in Popular Culture; and Sex, Violence and the Media, and she is enjoying discussions with Professor Karen Leong and lecturer Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis. 

Lilit Shakaryan is a sociology doctoral student and has been a lecturer in Applied Sociology since 2009 in the Department of Sociology at YSU. Shakaryan has taught in the areas of branding, sociology of mass media and public opinion research methodology, and she is preparing the new master’s-level course Social Construction of Gender to be taught at Yerevan State University. 

Shakaryan's dissertation theme and research covers the issue of Information Society development in Armenia, mainly focusing on the peculiarities of communicative space and identity construction. Within the framework of her doctoral thesis, she is also examining the role of women and their participation in ICT development. Shakaryan earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology at Yerevan State University and has conducted and supervised field research for a number of sociological research projects related to issues including health care, education, voting participation, and migration and reproduction. 

Shakaryan is observing the courses Gender and Communication, taught by Daniel Brouwer; Sex, Violence and the Media, taught by Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis; and Social Media, taught by Dawn Gilpin.