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To understand the experience and the processes that led to Armenia’s eventual independence from the Soviet Union, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies is embarking on a new documentation and digitization initiative entitled UNDERSTANDING INDEPENDENCE.

1988 to 1991 was a crucial and momentous period in Armenian history. It must be both documented and understood. It must be documented for the historical record, and it must be understood in order to support strategic thinking for Armenia’s secure development. The interviews will cover the independence movement, the consolidation of statehood, the subsequent economic and political upheaval, and the war. They will also record the sentiments of the period, including feelings of hope, loss of hope as well as western and non-western orientations with regards to the region’s development.

A select group of individuals who lived through that period or with scholarly expertise of that era will be interviewed for the oral history component of the project. These will include political leaders, intellectual leaders, students, teachers, scholars, and others with experiences from specific vantage points. Together, the collection of these testimonies will become a primary source for researchers, scholars, and artists investigating this important time period in Armenia’s modern history. The project will also be an invaluable addition to studies in post-Soviet history, history of democratization, and other contemporary transition topics.  

In addition to the recorded testimonies, unofficial personal correspondence of the main subjects and international observers of the independence movement, as well as personal mementos, photos, notes and journals will be digitized and secured for history.

All of the material will be made digitally available to provide sources for scholars, artists, filmmakers, and researchers worldwide. The digital archive will be incorporated into the USC Digital Libraries, while the hard copies will be housed at the National Library of Armenia.