Renowned journalists David and Adi Ignatius headline INNOVATE ARMENIA 2017.
Renowned journalists David and Adi Ignatius headline INNOVATE ARMENIA 2017.

What does it mean to be Armenian in America? Is it possible to thrive with both identities, or must Armenian-Americans choose? The Ignatius brothers tackle these and other thorny issues in lively conversation at USC.


Adi Ignatius, Harvard Business Review

ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and Harvard Business Review editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius will unpack the concept of “global Armenian identity” at INNOVATE ARMENIA 2017. Professor Don Miller of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture will moderate the session, which takes place on the festival mainstage in USC’s Bovard Auditorium.


To some extent, the Ignatius brothers embody the topic they will dissect.


“I grew up with this black number—1915—as the only organizing fact of my Armenian identity,” said David Ignatius in a video interview recorded last May in Yerevan.


Younger brother Adi Ignatius described himself as “half-Armenian” in a 2009 interview.


Read more: Two Literary Pulitzer Prize winners share the stage at Innovate Armenia


Their mother is a descendent of Puritan minister Cotton Mather.


Their father is former Secretary of the Navy Paul Robert Ignatius, the highest-ranking Armenian-American military official in U.S. history. In April, a Navy destroyer was named after the 97-year-old World War II veteran, who held various pentagon positions in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (The original Armenian family name was Ignatosian.)


David Ignatius,
The Washington Post

David Ignatius detects a sea-change in current attitudes toward hybrid identity.


“I think it’s much easier now to have that hyphen,” he told Salpi Ghazarian, director of USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies and organizer of INNOVATE ARMENIA. “It once was a binary choice. People felt you had to jump into the melting pot and get melted.”


Fear of being accused of divided loyalty fueled that dynamic, he noted. “During the Cold War, Armenian Americans worried that if they celebrated Armenia, they were celebrating a Soviet republic—not their ethnic identity. That period, happily, is over.”



David Ignatius has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for more than 25 years. An associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post, he also co-hosts PostGlobal, an online discussion of international issues at, with Fareed Zakaria. His twice-weekly column on global politics, economics and international affairs is syndicated worldwide. A graduate of Harvard College, he studied economics at King’s College, Cambridge before joining the Washington Monthly as an editor. He later moved to the Wall Street Journal as a political reporter and Middle East correspondent. In 1986, he went to work for the Washington Post as editor of the “Outlook” section and oversaw the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Ignatius is also a writer of suspense/espionage fiction. He has written nine novels, including Body of Lies, adapted to film by director Ridley Scott. His first book, Agents of Innocence, was described on the CIA website as “a novel but not fiction.” He is currently collaborating with composer Mohammed Fairouz on “The New Prince,” a political opera based on the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli.


Adi Ignatius is editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. He joined the magazine in 2009. Previously, he was deputy managing editor at TIME, responsible for special editions such as the Person of the Year series. He wrote the 2007 Person of the Year profile of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. During his 12 years with TIME, he covered business and international issues and served as editor of TIME Asia, based in Hong Kong. In 2008, he edited the New York Timesbestseller, President Obama: The Path to the White House. Fluent in Russian and Chinese, Ignatius spent many years at the Wall Street Journal, serving as the newspaper’s bureau chief in Beijing, where his work was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and later in Moscow. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Haverford College.


INNOVATE ARMENIA 2017—a day of discovery, technology, music, food, wine, chess and lively conversation—takes place Saturday, September 23, 10 am to 6 pm in Alumni Park and Bovard Hall on USC’s University Park Campus. Admission is free. For more details, click here.


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