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Gregory Aftandilian, author and consultant on Middle East affairs, will give a lecture entitled "World War II and Ethnic Identity: The Armenian-American Experience," on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at 5:00 p.m., at St. Mary's Armenian Church Hall, 4125 Fessenden St. NW, Washington, D.C. The lecture is sponsored by the Knights of Vartan, Ani Lodge #21, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).

Aftandilian has previously worked at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the U.S. Department of State. A recognized expert on Middle East affairs, he is the author of two books: Egypt's Bid for Arab Leadership:
Implications for U.S. Policy and Armenia: Vision of a Republic: The Independence Lobby in America, 1918-1927. He holds degrees from Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, and the London School of Economics. He has been a member of the NAASR Board of Directors since

A Defining Era

Sociologists and historians have long considered World War II a watershed period for millions of ethnic Americans. Through research interviewing Armenian-American World War II veterans, studying the letters they wrote to their families and to the Armenian-Americannewspapers, and reading the anthologies on Armenian-American service men and women, Gregory Aftandilian applied earlier studies on ethnic Americans in general to the Armenian-American second generation
experience in particular.

By and large, the Armenian-Americans who served in the military during World War II were the sons and daughters of genocide-survivor immigrants, and grew up in tight-knit ethnic enclaves in the cities of the East Coast or Midwest or on farms or in "Armenian Town" in Fresno.
Their parents were mostly laborers or farmers, eking out a meager living to the best of their abilities given the language barriers and social discrimination they faced, and tried to instill a sense of ethnic
solidarity and pride in their children. Outside of their neighborhoods, many encountered an unfriendly world where they were demeaned as "foreigners."

For many of these second-generation Armenian-Americans, the war was a defining life experience that not only enhanced their American identity but also their Armenian identity, as the conflict made them more conscious of their parents' suffering as genocide survivors and brought these soldiers into contact with the worldwide Armenian diaspora.

Admission to the event is free and a reception will follow.

More information about Aftandilian's lecture may be had by contacting Jake Bournazian at 703-448-7475 or or NAASR at 617-489-1610 or
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National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)
395 Concord Ave.
Belmont, MA 02478
Tel.: 617-489-1610


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