The world-famous scientist and historian Richard Hovannisian passed away at the age of 90 in Los Angeles, USA on July 10.
Richard G. Hovhannisian was born in the small settlement of Tulare near Fresno, California, USA, into a family of Armenian Genocide survivors from Kharberd. He grew up in an environment where memories of the genocide were both subjects of everyday conversation and repressed memory. He said that although the elders did not talk much about the Genocide in his presence, fragmentary evidence, such as the terrifying tattoos on the hands and faces of Armenian women, which were made as a result of their being kidnapped during the deportation, accompanied little Richard all the time
Hovannisian was a historian and received his first degree at the University of California, in Berkeley in 1954. Later on, he continued his studies at University of California, in Los Angeles (UCLA), where he received a doctorate for the study of the creation and fate of the First Republic of Armenia of 1918-1920 in 1966. This study later became the basis of his book “Armenia on the Road to Independence”
and the foundation of his monumental four-volume work on the history of the first republic of Armenia
He taught at the University of California in Los Angeles from 1962 and was appointed as the first head of the newly founded Department of Modern Armenian History in 1986.
He became a lecturer at the University of Southern California and a consultant on Armenian Genocide survivors’ memoirs for the Shoa Foundation, which collects and digitizes survivors’ memoirs, in 2014.
He presented the collection of interviews of genocide survivors conducted by him over many years to the same foundation in 2018, creating the Richard Hovannisian Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection.
When we talk about the beginning of the study of the Armenian Genocide, we always mention, in the first instance, two giants on whose shoulders the topic stood for many years: Vahagn Dadrian and Richard Hovannisian. They were rightfully considered to be the founders of that branch of science.
Richard Hovannisian entered the field of Armenian Genocide research when he was studying the history of the first Republic of Armenia. He noticed the gaps that exist in the study of the Armenian Genocide. His other motive was the Turkish state policy of denial, which every Armenian researcher of the history of the beginning of the 20th century was faced with.
His most important contribution to the development of this field of research was organisational. In addition to authoring articles, he organised conferences for decades, inviting many scholars from different branches of science and creating a common scientific platform and an environment where various discussions on this topic could take place. A field of cooperation and a scientific community was formed, which led to the development of the study of the Armenian Genocide
. Collections of scientific articles were often published after conferences, Hovannisian being the editor.
Hovannisian initiated and led another extremely important project from 1997 onwards. He regularly organised conferences dedicated to the historic provinces of Western Armenia and Cilicia at UCLA, which also brought together leading scholars from different countries around the world, attempting to restore the history of the destroyed Armenian world. This initiative later led to the publication of volumes dedicated to Armenian settlements, which he edited
Speaking of his contribution to Armenian Genocide research, it is imperative to mention that he actually became a leader of one of the two competing schools of thought for many years. The Dadrian-Hovannisian debate on the causes of the Armenian Genocide is considered a classic.
Dadrian viewed the Armenian Genocide as the result of a pre-planned and steadily implemented strategy. He emphasised the ideology, culture and even the mentality of the criminals[
. According to him, the genocide was, in the first instance, the result of a decision made for extermination, based on religion and, secondly, on nationalism
. He considered the war as a natural cause and a suitable occasion for the implementation of the already developed plan
Hovannisian represented another group of scholars who claimed that the war was not only a convenient occasion, but also the very reason or determining factor for the implementation of the Armenian Genocide. For him, the basic reason for the genocide was the Young Turks nationalist ideology
. According to Hovannisian, xenophobic nationalist mentality and the conditions of total war created the deadly atmosphere that led to the disaster
Richard Hovannisian was also closely associated with the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, participating in many conferences and making public speeches. He was awarded the AGMI’s Henry Morgenthau Memorial Medal in 2019.
His submitted projects and publications were sufficient to present Richard Hovannisian’s contribution. Richard Hovannisian leaves behind him many books, established chairs and a number of students who have already become famous scientists. Beside all this, his life shows how much can be achieved by tireless work, being deeply aware of its importance and it being carried out by a dedicated individual.
Head of the AGMI V. Dadrian Department of Comparative Genocide Studies
 Richard G. Hovannisian, Confronting the Armenian Genocide, Pioneers of Genocide Studies (ed. Totten S., Jacobs S. L.), Transaction Publishers, 2010, 28.
 Richard G Hovannisian, Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
 Richard G Hovannisian, The Republic of Armenia: The First Year, 1918–1919. Vol. 1. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971; Idem, The Republic of Armenia: From Versailles to London, 1919–1920. Vol. 2. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982; Idem, The Republic of Armenia: From London to Sèvres, February–August 1920. Vol. 3. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996; Idem, The Republic of Armenia: Between Crescent and Sickle: Partition and Sovietization. Vol. 4. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
 The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, New Brunswick, N.J.:Transaction Books, 1986; The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics, Ethics, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992; Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998; Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Confronting the Armenian Genocide, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2003; The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2007.
 Armenians of Van/Vaspurakan (2000); Armenian Baghesh/Bitlis and Taron/Mush (2001); Armenian Tsopk/Kharpert (2002); Armenian Karin/Erzerum (2003); Armenian Sebastia/Sivas and Lesser Armenia (2004); Armenian Tigranakert/Diarbekir and Edessa/Urfa (2006); Armenian Cilicia (2008) (together with Simon Payaslian); Armenian Pontus: The Trebizond-Black Sea Communities (2009); Armenian Constantinople (2010) (together with Simon Payaslian); Armenian Kars and Ani (2011); Armenian Smyrna/Izmir: the Aegean Communities (2012); Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia (2013); Armenian Communities of Asia Minor (2014); Armenian Communities of the Northeastern Mediterranean/Musa Dagh—Dört-Yol—Kessab (2016); Armenian Communities of Persia/Iran (2021).
 Taner Akçam. The Young Turks' Crime against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012, 126.
 Warrant for Genocide: The Key Elements of the Turko-Armenian Conflict, 1998.
 “The Armenian Genocide and the Pitfalls of a ‘Balanced’ Analysis,” Armenian Forum, 2, 1998, 73–131; “Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 18, 1986, 311–60; “Genocide as a Problem of National and International Law: The World War I Armenian Case and Its Contemporary Legal Ramifications,” Yale Journal of International Law 14, 2, 1989, 300–301; “The Armenian Genocide in Official Turkish Records,” Journal of Political and Military Sociology 22, 1, 1994, 29–96; History of the Armenian Genocide, 324–26.
 Bedross Der Matossian, “Explaining the Unexplainable: Recent Trends in the Armenian Genocide Historiography,” Journal of Levantine Studies, 5, 2, 2015, 150.
 Richard G. Hovannisian, “The Armenian Genocide: Wartime Radicalization or Premeditated Continuum?,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, 3.