Vazken Khatchig Davidian


Associate Faculty Member / Nubar Pasha Scholar

Faculty / College:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern 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. Winner of Society of Armenian Studies (SAS) Distinguished Dissertation Award (2017-2020).

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 –, and a connected histories approach, are 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;
  • The connected social, cultural and intellectual histories of Ottoman Armenians, Greeks, Turks, Kurds, 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 non-Ottoman 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:

  • The monograph Art, Realism and the Politics of Social Reform: Reading Late Nineteenth-Century Visual Representations of the Armenian Hamal of Constantinople (forthcoming).
  • Preparation of a critical art-historical bibliography of Teotig’s encyclopaedic Amenoun Daretsouytse (Ամէնուն Տարեցոյցը, 1907-1929).


Co-editor (with Dr Boris Adjemian) of the multidisciplinary peer-reviewed bilingual journal Études arméniennes contemporaines, published by the Bibliothèque Nubar in Paris.

Co-convener with Dr Meryem Suzan Rosita Kalaycı (Oxford) of the interdisciplinary Silence and Visuality Seminars in Armenian Art and History (Oxford Network for Armenian Genocide Research and Oxford Armenian Studies) at the University of Oxford (launched Michaelmas 2022) –

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 Dr Susan Paul Pattie and Dr 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, 2023).

‘Exploring Ottoman Realisms: Art, Aesthetics and the Politics of Social Reform’, Oxford Handbook of Global Realisms, OUP (forthcoming, Oxford, 2023).

Selected Articles, Essays and Reviews: 

‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind: In Search of the Missing Armenians of Turkish/Ottoman Art Historiography with a Decolonizing Eye’, IJMES Vol 54, No. 3, 2022.

‘Liberating the Artist or Controlling the Narrative? A Review of Arshile Gorky 1904-1908 edited by Gabriella Belli and Edith Devaney’, JSAS 28(1), Oct 2021.

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

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

Vazken Khatchig Davidian