Vazken Khatchig Davidian


Calouste Gulbenkian Postdoctoral Fellow in Armenian Studies

Faculty / College:

Faculty of Oriental Studies / Pembroke College


Doctoral Thesis:

‘The Image of the Migrant Hamal of Constantinople: Late Nineteenth Century Representations of Migrant Workers from Ottoman Armenia’; PhD in Art History, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 2019.

Research Interests:

Social art historian working on the history of visual art production in the Ottoman Empire and the wider Middle East in the long nineteenth century. Interdisciplinarity beyond boundaries – especially along the intersections of art and cultural history with social, political and economic history and anthropology – is at the heart of my research.

I am particularly interested in:

  • The history of cultural production – mainly the visual arts but also in other modes – of Ottoman Armenian and other Ottoman artists throughout the long nineteenth century;
  • Social, cultural and intellectual histories of, and cross-cultural interactions and exchanges between, Ottoman Armenians, Kurds, Turks, Greeks, and others;
  • The social reformist literature and endeavours of the late nineteenth century Constantinople Realists (Պոլսահայ Իրապաշտ Սերունդ);
  • Transnational ties and exchanges between Ottoman Armenian and other Armenian artists working across the Russian Empire, Europe and the wider Middle East;
  • Representations of subaltern groups in the Ottoman Empire including women, rural migrant workers, the urban poor and sexual minorities.

Current Projects:

  • Monograph in preparation for Hamals from Moush, Beggars from Van: Subalterns in Constantinople and the Visual Arts.
  • Preliminary preparations for monograph 'Marauding Tribesmen' and 'Noble Savages': Armenian Representations of the Kurd in the Ottoman East in the Late Nineteenth Century (working title).
  • Portraiture and projections of power among Ottoman Armenian elites.
  • Preparation of a critical art-historical bibliography of Teotig’s encyclopaedic Amenoun Daretsouytse (Ամէնուն Տարեցոյցը, 1907-1929).


Co-Editor-in-Chief (with Boris Adjemian) of the multidisciplinary peer-reviewed bilingual journal Études arméniennes contemporaines, published by the Bibliothèque Nubar in Paris (from Sept. 2020).

Edited Volumes:

Towards Inclusive Art Histories: Ottoman Armenian Voices Speak Back, Special Art History Edition of Études arméniennes contemporaines (EAC), No. 6, Bibliothèque AGBU Nubar, Paris, 2015.

Treasured Objects: Armenian Life in the Ottoman Empire One Hundred Years Ago (co-edited with Susan Paul Pattie and Gagik Stepan-Sarkissian), Armenian Institute, London, 2012.

Book Chapters:

‘Transforming Invisible Street Types into Subjects Worthy of Attention: Representation of the Migrant as Agent for Social Reform in Late Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Armenian Realism’, Houshamadyan, Vol. II, (forthcoming, Berlin, 2021).

Selected Essays:

‘Image of an Atrocity: Ivan (Hovhanness) Aivazovsky’s Massacre of the Armenians in Trebizond, 1895’, EAC No. 11, 2018.

‘Reframing Ottoman Art Histories: Bringing Silenced Voices Back into the Picture’, EAC No. 6, 2015.

‘Portrait of an Ottoman Armenian Artist of Constantinople: Rereading Teotig’s Biography of Simon Hagopian, EAC No. 4, 2014.

Vazken Khatchig Davidian