Scientific potential of Lebanon Armenian Community

9 m.   |  2019-03-22

Particularly the potential of the diaspora in the science realm is observed in two dimensions: institutional and individual. Institutional dimension includes typically scientific structures abroad and the individual components include Armenian scientists, who are engaged in foreign research and higher educational institutional activities. In this article, we will observe the scientific potential of Lebanon’s Armenian Community on an individual basis.

First of all we should consider 2 circumstances:  

  1. The number of Armenians in Lebanon has considerably decreased since half of the 20th century because of demographic movements (meaning Armenian emigration from Middle East to Western countries). If in 70’s the community was around 250-300 thousand, now it has considerably declined.

There is no official statistics on Armenian community’s numbers, as no official census has taken place in Lebanon since 1932. Non-official data ranges from 65-70 thousand to 140 thousand. The reason for this disparity is based on the following:

  1. A large number of Armenians emigrating from Lebanon to the West maintain their citizenship of Lebanon, remaining part of the population statistics, even though that they don’t live there.
  2. There is also a seasonality factor. Numerous Lebanese-Armenians return to their residencies for some seasons of the year.

Taking into account these factors, we hazard a guess that the number of the Armenian community in Lebanon has dwindled to around 65-70 thousand. It seems the decrease in the Armenian community has not had a negative impact on the scientific potential from the Armenian community of Lebanon. The Lebanese Armenian community maintains a considerable scientific capacity as the mother colony of the Armenian Diaspora. In spite of the quantitative limitation, there is a certain potential in the fields of exact sciences and social sciences, which is worth observing. 

Haigazian University building in Beirut

  1. Lebanon is not listed among one of the world’s scientific-technical developed countries [1]. It is also not comparable with the developed countries of the Western world and the Far East countries, such as Japan, China and South Korea. Due to this, there is not a big prospect for the development in the field of natural sciences for Armenian specialists. Talented Armenians migrate for a technologically more developed countries for wider opportunities. Garabed Antranikian is one of these migrants, who left for Germany after receiving his Master’s degree at the American University in Beirut and holds his PhD in microbiology from the University of Göttingen. Later he became a professor of technical microbiology at the Hamburg University of Technology. Currently professor Antranikian is the director of the Institute of Technical Microbiology at Hamburg University of Technology.   

Natural or exact sciences

According to our observations, the representatives of the Armenian community are mostly in the spheres of architecture and healthcare. Among the most well-known architects is Raffi Gergian, who is the professor of the history of architecture in Antiquities and the Medieval Ages at the Lebanese University. At the same time he is the conservator of the World Heritage Archeological site of the city of Anjar. One of the prominent research efforts of Raffi Gergian is his devotion to the Armenian churches in Lebanon, which was published in “Lebanese Armenian Churches” (“Les Églises Arméniennes du Liban”) French monograph in 2011.

Vigen and Raffi Tarkhanyan are also prominent figures in the field of architecture, who conduct their research in the field of business, being a co-owner of “Doonbeyt Design” architectural company. The company conducts architectural work, ranging from urban planning, landscape and interior design. It was the Tarkhanyan brothers that entrusted the architecture and interior design of the “Aram Bezikyan” Museum, devoted to the orphans of the Armenian Genocide. As well as the renovation of the Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Mayravanq, Antelias [2]. The Tarkhanyan’s also coordinated representational works of the Pan-Armenian Association of Architects and Engineers.

Members of the Executive board of the Middle East Council of Churches with Aram l, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

Armenians in Lebanon also have a significant potential in the field of healthcare. Among Armenian doctors are Krikor Ejidian, Bedros Karagyozian, Karlo Aqacherian, Rita Chukhadarian Haruni and many others. Krikor Ejidian is the Chairman of the Armenian Medical Society of Lebanon and Bedros Karagyozian is the Secretary.  

Boghos Kendirjian is a prominent Armenian specialist in the field of Mathematics, who is the President of GAJSMA- Global Association of Japanese Soroban & Mental Arithmetic Lebanon branch. It will be possible to open GAJSMA branch in Armenia by using his network and cooperating with him, which will be a new innovation and will stimulate this field’s development in Armenia.

Hermine Aydnyan, Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut, is a prominent Armenian scientist in the field of Chemistry.  Sevak Babikyan is perhaps one of the most promising figures in the field of Engineering in the Lebanese Armenian community. Roboticist Zhak Taragjyan is also a well-known figure in this field.

Social Sciences

Armenian specialists in the field of social sciences exceed in quantity compared to their compatriots in natural sciences. The great majority of them are involved in the Armenian scientific-educational institutions, working mainly in the fields of Armenology or Religious Studies. Aram l, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, is the most prominent Armenologist and theologian. “The Armenian Church” was his latest book published in English in 2016. In total, his Holiness is the author of 29 books in Armenian, English and French.  

Among the most prominent Armenologists are the historians Yervand Pambukyan, Yeghik Tcherechyan, Andranik Daqesyan, director of Haykazyan University’s “Armenian Diaspora Studies Center” and Nanor Karagyozyan, Head of the Armenian Studies Chair also at the Haykazyan University Arta Jebejian, has a PhD in Linguistics also a part of the same university. Among the Armenian scientists who do not conduct their activity in Armenology in the Armenian scientific-educational institutions are the lecturers Shaghik Khudaverdyan and Hakob Yakubyan from the Department of Pedagogy, Haykazyan University.  

Armenians conducting activity in non-Armenian scientific-educational institutions, we can mention Prof. Nora Bayrakdarian, major specialist in International Law in Lebanon, who teaches at the Lebanon State University. She is engaged in the judicial process initiated by Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia against Turkey to return the Sis Catholicosate and actively has participated in the preparation of the legal paperwork.  

Dr. Zhan Salmanian is a prominent Armenian scientist in the field of Arabic and Religious Studies, who teaches Islamic Philosophy and Arabic Literature in different universities of Lebanon. He is the member of the Executive board of the Middle East Council of Churches [3]. Salmanian carries out his activity not only with the Armenian community, but also in Lebanon and on a regional level.

Although Religious studies (Islamic studies) and Oriental studies are quite developed scientific branches in Armenia, the knowledge and experience of specialist Islamic Philosophy Zhan Salmanian is useful in academic and practical researches on the Middle East region.

From left to right is Karma Ekmekji (lecturer in the American University of Beirut, specialist in management, Advisor for the Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri), Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Pope Francis.

Hovhannes Keoqjyan is an outstanding figure in the field of Political Sciences, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. Karma Ekmekji, specialist in the field of public administration and combines scientific-pedagogical activity with political activity with the state service. Ekmekji is the Advisor for the Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Director of International Affairs to Lebanon's Council of Ministers [4]. His knowledge and working experience can be beneficial for both raising the efficiency of public administration in Armenia and for promoting Armenian-Lebanese relations.

Mkrtich Pultukyan is a prominent economist, who had been the Vice President of the Lebanon’s Central Bank from 1985-1990. The knowledge and experience of an economist, who has taken part in the management of such a complex Central Bank system, can be useful for the governing bodies and specialists of the Armenian financial and banking sectors.

Considering that music studies is also a separate science, there is also a music expert Harut Fazlian, who is the Principal Conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra.  

In conclusion we can point out the following peculiarities:

  1. The Armenians are represented in the Lebanese scientific system both in natural and social sciences. The specialists in the field of social sciences exceed in quantity their compatriots in natural sciences.
  2. In the field of natural sciences the Armenians are represented in medical sciences, architecture, engineering, mathematics and chemistry.
  3. In the field of social sciences the Armenians are represented in political science, law (international law), religious sciences, Arabic studies, economics and music studies.   
  4. The Armenian specialists conducting their activity in various scientific-educational institutions of Lebanon are not separated from the community, actively cooperate with the Armenian organizations and bring their benefit to the Armenians.
  5. All the fields of natural or exact sciences as well as the social sciences, where the Armenian scientists are involved, are developed in Armenia.  However, the cooperation with the Lebanese-Armenian partners will be more beneficial for the liveliness of these fields and will stimulate Homeland-Diaspora scientific connections.

    [1] The main branches of Lebanon’s economy are the banking field, tourism, food supply, winemaking, jewelry, production of cement, textile and mineral water, pharmaceuticals, wood and oil extracting.

[2] RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received Lebanese-Armenian architects Vigen and Raffi Tarkhanians.

[3]His Holiness Aram l Catholicos received the delegation of the Middle East Council of Churches,

[4] Diplomatic Fields of Influence, Azg, November 2, 2018.