USC Institute of Armenian Studies is proud to welcome Dr. Shushan Karapetian to the position of deputy director. The Institute, which will be celebrating its 15th anniversary later this year, has grown to become one of USC’s most visible and active academic centers.

The position of deputy director has been made possible by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the Turpanjian Family Foundation, whose support to USC generally and Armenian Studies at USC in particular has been at the core of the Institute’s growth.

Dr. Shushan Karapetian

Dr. Karapetian’s distinguished interdisciplinary research and exceptional academic accomplishments will propel and expand the depth and scope of the Institute’s research and academic programs.

“With Dr. Shushan Karapetian’s joining the Institute, we will now be entering a new phase. She shares our commitment to do the work necessary to shape and positively impact global discourse on Armenia and the Diaspora.  And she brings knowledge and experience that is solidly grounded in academia even as she puts great importance on the process of making academic research and scholarship available and accessible,” said Salpi Ghazarian, director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies.

In her previous position at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she completed both her undergraduate and graduate education, Dr. Karapetian held a dual position as Associate Director of the National Heritage Language Resource Center and Lecturer of Armenian Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Dr. Karapetian’s research focuses on the role of Armenian as a pluricentric heritage language, particularly on the juncture of language and identity in the transnational context of the Armenian people. Her dissertation, “‘How Do I Teach My Kids My Broken Armenian?’: A Study of Eastern Armenian Heritage Language Speakers in Los Angeles,” was awarded the Distinguished Dissertation Award by the Society for Armenian Studies in 2015.

Her postdoctoral research shifts to the situation of Western Armenian and its sole existence as a stateless diasporic language by examining the development of language ideologies that project its status as both threatened and valued. Her corresponding studies on Eastern and Western Armenian in their diasporic expression demonstrate how linguistic and (trans)national boundaries are constantly stretched, blurred, and tested, bringing to light disruptive spaces of contact and how those map on to constructs of belonging in the Armenian experience. Most recently, she was the recipient of the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award in Heritage Language Education at the Third International Heritage/Community Languages Conference hosted by the National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA.

Dr. Karapetian’s achievements extend beyond academic institutions and into communities. In the City of Glendale, she leads a new cutting-edge research partnership with the city’s school district on their Dual Language Immersion Programs in seven languages. She has developed and delivered workshops for heritage language instructors in communities across the country. She is currently serving on multiple committees both in the local Los Angeles and global diasporic Armenian communities aimed at reforming Armenian language instruction and promoting the use of the Armenian language. This includes collaborations with the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on Armenian Language Revitalization initiatives.

Dr. Shushan Karapetian gives an interview to CivilNet reporter Rita Manjikian in Yerevan

“I am thrilled to share in and contribute to the pioneering vision and reach of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies.  I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USC in expanding the Institute’s research and scholarship initiatives, deepening the integration with entities both on and off campus, and initiating programming, all with the goal of understanding the trajectory of the Armenian experience and shaping current and future developments,” the new deputy director said.

Dr. Karapetian is the newest addition to a growing Institute. Together with Salpi Ghazarian, the director, the Institute has two associate directors — Silva Sevlian and Syuzanna Petrosyan, both holding Master’s degrees from USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism. In addition, Gegham Mughnetsyan has recently been appointed Chitjian Researcher Archivist.  Dr. Lilit Keshishyan and Sareen Habeshian are part time Research Associates. Asik Yekikan is the Institute’s financial officer. In addition, roughly a dozen undergraduate and graduate students are an integral part of the Institute staff.

Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies supports multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience—from post-genocide to the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving diaspora. The institute encourages research, publications and public service, and promotes links among the global academic and Armenian communities.