Gulbenkian Foundation picks new Armenian communities director

Published: Saturday January 26, 2013

Razmik Panossian.

Lisbon, Portugal - The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation announced the January 24 appointment of Dr. Razmik Panossian as the new Director of the Armenian Communities Department in Lisbon. He will assume the post on 1 February 2013.

Panossian holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he also taught. He has published widely on Armenian-related issues, including a critically acclaimed book on Armenian national identity. He has extensive experience in senior management, including the administration of multi-million dollar programmes, as well as the allocation and distribution of international development grants. For many years he served as the Director of Policy, Programmes and Planning at a Canadian governmental organisation based in Montreal. He has worked for the United Nations Development Programme. He is fluent in English, French and Armenian.

"I am both thrilled and humbled by this appointment," said Panossian. "This is one of the most important positions in the Armenian diaspora. I am looking forward to continuing the work of my predecessors and further strengthening and expanding the activities of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in a focused and systematic manner within Armenian communities around the world."

Martin Essayan, the Trustee responsible for the Armenian Communities Department, and great grandson of Foundation founder Calouste Gulbenkian, said: "I am delighted that Dr. Panossian will be the new Director of the Armenian Communities Department. He comes with outstanding credentials for this role and brings the international, integrative perspective we need. The appointment followed a global search during which we were able to consider many excellent candidates."

Razmik Panossian is the author of The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars (Columbia University Press/Hurst & Co., 2006). He received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His thesis won the prestigious Lord Bryce Prize for Best Dissertation in Comparative and International Politics in the UK (2001) granted by Britain's Political Studies Association. He received his MA from York University in Toronto, Canada, and his BA (honours) from McGill University in Montreal. Panossian has taught at the London School of Economics and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) on the subjects of nationalism, ethnic conflict, post-Soviet transition/democratisation, and comparative politics.

In 2004 he assumed the position of Director of Policy, Programmes and Planning at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, a Canadian federal institution devoted to the promotion of democracy and human rights. He managed the Centre's international programming in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. His work took him to countries as diverse as Afghanistan, China, Haiti, Colombia, Egypt, Morocco and Congo.

Between 2010 and 2012 Panossian worked as an international consultant, including at UNDP in New York. He has delivered numerous lectures and conference papers throughout the world, has participated in Turkish-Armenian workshops and the Armenia-Diaspora conferences. He has published many academic articles on Armenian national identity and nationalism, as well as on Armenia-diaspora relations. Razmik was born in Lebanon and immigrated to Canada at the age of 12. He has lived in English and French Canada as well as the UK.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is one of the top ten Foundations in Europe and one of the largest in the world with assets of €3 billion and annual spend of around €100 million. It operates in four areas defined in its statutes: Arts, Education, Science, and Social Welfare. It was founded by Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an Armenian businessman and art collector who became a British citizen, conducted much of his work in Britain and France, and finally settled in Portugal. The Foundation was established in Portugal in 1956, a year after his death.

The Foundation headquarters are in Lisbon and consist of the administration, which deals with grant-giving throughout the world, together with a Museum housing the founder's art collections - recognised as one of the world's best small museums - a Modern Art Centre, an art research library, a centre for scientific research, concert halls, an open-air theatre, exhibition galleries and conference halls, an orchestra and a choir. The Foundation also has offices in London and Paris.

The Armenian Communities Department dates back to the creation of the Foundation and was set up by the founder's son-in-law Kevork Essayan. Since then the trustee in charge has always been a member of the founder's family. The mission of the department is: "to create a viable future for the Armenian people in which their culture and language are preserved and valued". Its work is inspired by the example of the founder who never forgot his Armenian roots but sought to engage with non Armenians and to bring different groups together.

For further information contact: Elisabete Caramelo, Director of Communications, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation at ecaramelo@gulbenkian.pt or 217 823 320/ 217 823 217

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Aleppo citadel - site of the AGBU celebration in Oct. 2008 (pictured) - is now in ruins. AGBU

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The uncertain fate of Armenian communities in the Middle East and particularly in Aleppo will be discussed on Sept. 29 in LA and Oct. 9 in Boston; for details about these and other upcoming Armenian happenings in America consult the Calendar of Events.