Ani Duzdabanyan writes stories about the Armenian diaspora and her homeland, thus is front and center in keeping family legacies alive.
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Ani Duzdabanyan started out in television as a reporter and anchor. She grew up during the Soviet Union era.
“I don’t really remember that much, but when I went to school, it was still the Soviet Union, and I remember wearing the school uniform.”
The Soviet Union fell, and Armenia gained independence in 1991. In university, she worked with investigative journalists and exposed the violation of children’s rights and orphanages and specialized schools. The assignment was so difficult emotionally that she stopped investigative journalism after that.
“I guess any story, any project involves investigation somehow, but that was my first attempt. It was hard. It was very emotional. I remember my mother telling me I was so emotionally drained. My mom was asking me, begging me not to do it, not to go there because I would come home from that project, and the impact wasn’t good on me on a personal level.”
Duzdabanyan did learn a lot from that assignment, and eventually learned not to take it too personally because it’s part of the job. It was about hearing other people’s stories and being involved as writers. As a descendant of the Armenian genocide survivors from her father’s side, she knows the importance of stories. This brought her to the journey of preserving history by learning her country’s stories, through the eyes of the people who lived through it.
“I don’t know about other countries, other nations, but with the Armenian nation, I realized these stories are not really being told, because the older generation is kind of dying, and the new generation is doing a lot of great things, but almost nobody talks about it. So I decided that I can be that person.”
Because she knew the people, she continually heard their stories. Now she had the ability to write them.
One example is the Armenians who were sent to Siberia. It was another emotional project for Duzdabanyan. These people told their stories about how they survived, how they raised families there. She interviewed people whose parents were sent to Siberia, and they were born there. They grew up there before the Soviet Union collapsed. Many of these people were repatriates from other countries. When the Iron Curtain fell, they emigrated to their homeland. It was too painful for them to stay.