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YSU Researcher Captures the Hamshen in her Photography.

Updated: Feb 1

Katie Gundakchyan, a researcher at the Cultural Genocide Center at Yerevan State University’s (YSU) Armenology Department, often travels to Western Armenia. She always brings her camera to immortalize the landscapes and nature of Armenian communities living in Turkey, along with their churches and monuments.

On May 4, Katie’s photos were displayed at YSU in an exhibition called Armenian Highlands, which was dedicated to 20 years of Armenia’s independence and the 90th anniversary of YSU’s Library.

The exhibit featured Katie’s photos of the Hamshen Armenians, or Hamshenis, who live near the shores of the Black Sea, and the beautiful nature of their homeland. She confessed that her photos were inspired by pain in her heart, and they aim to represent the Hamshen’s past and present.

Katie explained that she needed not only photography skills but also resourcefulness to complete this project. Due to tense Armenian-Turkish relations, there are many Turkish nationalists who do not want Armenian historical monuments to be publicized. “I know Turkish very well and speak it in a way so that no one can guess I am Armenian. Last summer, however, when I had just started my initiative, I had to hide in order to be able to photograph many of the churches.”

Katie’s exhibition will be held in various places around Yerevan in the coming weeks. During her YSU exhibit, she also presented her two new books, Armenian-Turkish Phrasebook and Armenian-Turkish Short Dictionary to guests.

Manya Poghosyan is one of this year’s Margaret Ajemian Ahnert Journalism Scholars.

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