ASU welcomes Armenian scholars in women and gender studies

September 30, 2013

The School of Social Transformation’s program in women and gender studies has welcomed four scholars-in-residence from Armenia’s Yerevan State University (YSU) this semester. The scholars are sitting in on courses, engaging in discussions with faculty across ASU, and developing syllabi and advancing their research threads that intersect with the field of women and gender studies.

The ASU-YSU partnership is funded by a USAID/HED grant to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. ASU’s partnership director is Victor Agadjanian, the E.E. Guillot International Distinguished Professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and a member of the graduate faculty for the gender studies doctoral program. Co-directors are Mary Margaret Fonow, professor of women and gender studies and director of the School of Social Transformation, and Steve Batalden, professor of history and director of the Melikian Center.  Four scholars from Yerevan State meet in seminar Download Full Image

Meet the scholars from Yerevan State University:

Tatevik Sargsyan’s research and teaching interests lie in issues of racial, class and gender inequality in public policy. Sargsyan is interested in the ethical management and delivery of public services, as well as the impact of class and gender differences on political activity and policy initiatives. She is pursuing postgraduate studies in YSU’s Faculty of International Relations, Department of Public Administration, where she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and has been a lecturer since 2010. 

Sargsyan is using her ASU research exchange experience to learn more about best practices in women’s leadership and gender studies, and to further develop course syllabi for courses on Gender and Ethics Management, as well as Gender and Class in Policymaking. She is participating in Cheshire Calhoun’s philosophy course on feminist philosophical literature and Carol Poore’s course on women, politics and policy.

“Women’s and diverse class groups’ involvement in the political process and public life is growing year by year, but many studies point to the lack of proven institutional structures that will provide equal protection of interests in the policymaking processes for all societal groups,” Sargsyan says. “Despite the fact that there are constitutional and legal guarantees for equal rights for public service for all citizens regardless of race, gender, class and beliefs, informal restrictions still exist. I look forward to sharing and applying knowledge related to women’s role in modern society, public life and the policymaking process.”

Anna Gevorgyan earned a bachelor's and master's in Iranian studies at Yerevan State University and is currently a doctoral student and research fellow in YSU’s Center for Civilization and Cultural Studies. Gevorgyan’s field of specialization is Iranian studies, with particular interest in Islamic feminism and feminism in Iran. 

She is using her semester at ASU to develop syllabi for courses at the intersection of women’s studies and religious studies, and is deepening her knowledge of theory and research methods in women and gender studies to support her comparative research on feminist interpretations of religious texts of Islam and Christianity in contemporary times. In addition to observing women’s studies courses taught by Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis, Heather Switzer and Mirna Lattouf’s course in women and religion, Gevorgyan is having weekly discussions with the director of Arabic Studies, Souad Ali, about women's contribution to feminist interpretation of the Quran, and with Yasmin Saikia in the Center for Religion and Conflict about Islam, peacekeeping and women’s contributions to peacemaking.

“Women’s studies has demonstrated to historians of religion that past studies of religions were concerned almost entirely with men’s religion and from men's perspective,” says Gevorgyan, who looks forward to developing courses that will include both men’s and women’s perspectives. She is also building a theoretical base for her research on the attitudes of Ithnaasharia Shia Islam and the Armenian Apostolic church toward women.

Ani Kojoyan’s interests in women’s studies began with her master’s research at YSU, which studied the role of women in the development of the “witchcraft movement” in the Renaissance period and witchcraft as a beginning of feminism in the early Modern period. A lecturer and doctoral student in YSU’s Department of English Language and Literature, she is doing a dissertation on “The Act of Cursing as Part of Women’s Speech Behavior and as a Means of Self-Fashioning and Self-Disguise for Women.” 

Kojoyan eaned a bachelor's and master's in English from YSU, and a second master’s degree in English literature at the University of Oxford. However, her research interests extend beyond language studies. She is interested in women’s studies in literature from social-historical and cultural-anthropological perspectives, women and the body/transformation and metamorphose analysis, women and social change, women and religion, and women and knowledge.

At ASU she is observing the courses Introduction to Gender Studies; Critical Concepts of Gender; Women in Popular Culture; and Sex, Violence and the Media, and she is enjoying discussions with Professor Karen Leong and lecturer Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis. 

Lilit Shakaryan is a sociology doctoral student and has been a lecturer in Applied Sociology since 2009 in the Department of Sociology at YSU. Shakaryan has taught in the areas of branding, sociology of mass media and public opinion research methodology, and she is preparing the new master’s-level course Social Construction of Gender to be taught at Yerevan State University. 

Shakaryan's dissertation theme and research covers the issue of Information Society development in Armenia, mainly focusing on the peculiarities of communicative space and identity construction. Within the framework of her doctoral thesis, she is also examining the role of women and their participation in ICT development. Shakaryan earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology at Yerevan State University and has conducted and supervised field research for a number of sociological research projects related to issues including health care, education, voting participation, and migration and reproduction. 

Shakaryan is observing the courses Gender and Communication, taught by Daniel Brouwer; Sex, Violence and the Media, taught by Michelle McGibbney Vlahoulis; and Social Media, taught by Dawn Gilpin. 

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


Committee to investigate US government's treatment of reporters

September 30, 2013

For three decades, the Committee to Protect Journalists has reported on assaults on press freedoms in China, Iran, Syria and other countries with government regimes traditionally hostile to a free and robust news media.

This year, for the first time, the Committee is conducting a major investigation of attacks on press freedoms by the U.S. government, led by an Arizona State University professor. Download Full Image

“Journalists working in the United States have told us that their work has become more difficult as aggressive leak investigations and prosecutions have chilled certain kinds of reporting,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Earlier this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists asked Leonard Downie Jr., the former Washington Post executive editor now serving as the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, to lead a study focusing on press treatment by the Obama administration.

“Given his experience as both an academic and media professional, Len Downie is the right person to look at these complex issues with clarity and purpose,” said Simon. “We look forward to his findings, which we hope will help lead to improved conditions for journalists in this country and ensure the United States continues to set a press freedom example for the world.”

The Downie report will be released at a news conference at 10 a.m., Oct. 10 in the Newseum’s Knight Studios at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street N.W.

The report comes at a time when U.S. journalists are finding it increasingly difficult to do their jobs in the face of aggressive criminal leak investigations and unprecedented government limitations on access and information. Just last week, a former FBI explosive expert agreed to plead guilty to revealing secret information to The Associated Press about an intelligence operation in Yemen in 2012. The story led to a leaks investigation and the seizure of AP phone records in the government's search for the information's source. In a similar case, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News was subjected to intense government monitoring as part of an investigation into possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009.

“The fact that the Committee to Protect Journalists felt compelled to investigate the U.S. government’s treatment of the press is a remarkable statement here in the home of the First Amendment,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School. “U.S. government tactics are increasingly impeding journalists and having a chilling effect on news gathering that can endanger our democracy.”

The committee is an independent, nonprofit organization founded 32 years ago to promote and defend press freedom and rights around the world. Each year it documents attacks on the press and on journalists, compiling an annual census of journalist fatalities, the number of journalists incarcerated around the work and the number in exile from their countries. It also assists journalists around the world who have been targeted for their work.

Each year the organization issues about a half-dozen special reports on the state of the press in selected countries where press freedom has been an issue. So far in 2013, the committee has completed reports on Burma, China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Tanzania. The only time the U.S. has been the subject of a report was more than 20 years ago. That report was limited to attacks on immigrant journalists in the United States.

Reporter , ASU Now