I study the medieval Armenian monuments—churches, monasteries, fortresses, palaces, and more—in what is now eastern Turkey (what many call western Armenia). For me, this region is at once the most beautiful, and most painful, place on earth. I am the grandchild of survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–22, in which Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire suffered mass deportation and extermination: a crime that still goes unrecognized by the Turkish state. Scholars have characterized the Armenian monuments in Turkey as physical traces of their lost homeland. While my scholarship addresses these sites as historical and architectural/artistic phenomena, that work does not often capture the moods and emotions I feel when I am there. I hope to offer here a sense of the more personal dimensions of firsthand work with the buildings and their landscapes.
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Christina Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Professor of Armenian Art and Architecture at Tufts University. She is the author of The Art of Armenia, a critical art history of ancient and medieval Armenia, with a concluding chapter on cultural heritage, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.