post archive


Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris


Your Wars, Our Dead


At the end of last week, we witnessed from afar horrific attacks that left scores dead and hundreds wounded in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris. These brutal and unconscionable strikes against civilians have been attributed to members of The Islamic State (ISIS), or Daesh (Da’ish).

Daesh is a loose acronym of the Arabic words that mean the same as ISIS: Al Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham. According to The Guardian, the acronym is now an Arabic word in its own right, with its plural daw’aish meaning “bigots who impose their views on others.” The use of this name for the network of extremists who have been terrorizing people ranging from Yezidis in Northern Iraq to Parisians in the 11th Arrondissement robs them of any religious association. It is also a name that they reportedly hate.

But Daesh did not arise out of a vacuum. As Ben Norton cogently argues in his piece Our Terror Double Standard, we in the West must look to our own imperial state violence, including the disastrous, immoral, and illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, as having created the chaos that allowed the spread of these “non-state” actors who now threaten indiscriminate violence from the Middle East to Europe.

When we mourn the terrible loss of life in Baghdad, Beirut and Paris, we must also mourn the deaths of those killed by the U.S. attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and by a Saudi-led coalition missile strike on a Yemeni wedding party, or by a month-long Israeli assault, using U.S. weapons and funded by U.S. tax dollars, on trapped civilians in Gaza. All lives are precious.

In response to the recent wave of violence stocks of leading weapons manufacturers have soared, and the U.S. has just sold another billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi for their bombing campaign that is terrorizing civilians and destroying the architectural heritage of Yemen. And that is why rather than joining the rallying cries for revenge and more carnage, or the xenophobic and racist calls to bar Syrian refugees from our communities, we must redouble our efforts to put an end to these ruinous wars and occupations. As Mother Jones said, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”


Nancy Kricorian

New York City

We Have So Many Stories

The Renault factories are working for the German Army. The Renault factories were hit.

The Renault factories are working for the German Army. The Renault factories were hit.


Last week I presented my ALL THE LIGHT THERE WAS slideshow at the Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension in Trumbull, Connecticut. The event was hosted by the Church’s Women’s Guild. Two sisters, Marie and Jean, who are members of the church and had already read the novel, spoke to me before and after my presentation. Jean said, “It meant so much to us that you have written this book. Everything was so familiar, and I have never read before our story.” They had lived in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, a working class suburb of Paris, during the war. Jean, the younger of the two, was born just before the war started and so her memories of the occupation were hazy, but her elder sister Marie told me the story of how her mother and other Armenian women had worked at the nearby Renault factory making nets to cover the tanks and trucks that were being manufactured at that location. Because of the German war work, the Allied bombers targeted the factory. One night, however, the Armenian women, who worked the shift that got out at 11 p.m., were at the factory when the Allied fliers mistakenly dropped bombs on their civilian neighborhood. The sisters’ building was badly damaged, but no one in the family was harmed. Their neighbor fared worse—while she was at work her husband and three children were killed. “You should have talked with us before you wrote the book,” they said. “We have so many stories.”


Nancy Kricorian

Peniche Anako: An Armenian Home Away from Home

The Peniche Anako, a cultural center housed on a canal barge in Paris

The Peniche Anako, a cultural center housed on a canal barge in Paris



When I was in Paris in May, my friend Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan invited me to join her on the Peniche Anako for a jazz concert one evening. The Peniche Anako is a canal barge docked on the West Bank of the La Villette Basin in the 19th arrondissement. The Basin, which is the largest artificial lake in Paris, was filled with water in December 1808 and is part of the 130-kilometer (80.7 mile) Parisian Canal Network that is operated by the municipality. Canal barges have access to about 22 kilometers of the network.

Peniche Anako opened its doors in the fall of 2008 under the direction of Patrick Bernard, an ethnologist whose work focused on the oral traditions of indigenous peoples. In January of 2009, the barge was purchased by the Armenian Red Cross Association (in French le Comité de secours de la Croix Rouge Arménienne, C.S.R.A.), which is an organization founded in the 1920’s by doctors, lawyers and other professionals to provide aid to Armenian Genocide survivors and refugees. In purchasing the boat, the C.S.R.A. intended to continue with multicultural programming, while creating a space where Armenian culture could also be showcased.

Virginia Pattie Kerovpyan took over as Director of Creative Programming starting in 2010, and a close-knit circle of friends and family keeps the project running. When I visited the boat on my recent trip to Paris, her husband Aram was working behind the bar, a friend was collecting tickets at the door, her son was handling the soundboard, and her daughter’s boyfriend was the chef for the evening. The excellent jazz trio concert that night, billed as Anne Pacéo a Carte Blanche,” was performed by the aforementioned Anne Pacéo on percussion, along with Maxime Bender on bass and Olivier Lutz on saxophone. The space is not large—the bar area can comfortably accommodate around 20 people, and the performance space has a capacity of 100—which adds to the intimacy and warmth of the atmosphere.

In addition to the musical performances, ranging from classical, to folk, to jazz, Kerovpyan also schedules visits by artists and storytellers, as well as film screenings, lectures, and dramatic readings. Each month the programming is focused on a different theme: for example this past spring March was devoted to the cultures of Spain and Portugal; in April the theme was Solidarity Encounters and France; The Near East and the Fertile Crescent were the focus in May; and World Diasporas in June. Annually the month of October is dedicated to Armenian culture, with a broad array of events featuring Armenian musicians, artists, photographers and lecturers. Local school children have twice been invited onto the barge for activities—once for an Armenian calligraphy workshop, and the second time for a lesson in Armenian song and dance.

Kerovpyan says, “The Peniche is a space where we aim to provide a warm welcome to all people. We also hope that Armenians from around the world who are passing through Paris will think of this as a home away from home.”



La Peniche Anako (

Bassin de la Villette

Across from 61, quai de la Seine

75019 PARIS 
Métro: Riquet, Stalingrad ou Jaurès



This piece originally appeared via The Armenian Weekly.


Nancy Kricorian