How do we come to understand the different (power) relations and struggles that shape social life in different sociopolitical contexts? How can we create a world in which one group’s well-being does not come at the expense of another’s? It is through ethnographically grounded sociocultural anthropology that Marlboro students cultivate multidisciplinary and intersectional understanding of sociopolitical and cultural processes ordering and imagining social life. “My research and teaching are theoretically informed by feminist and political anthropologies, linguistic anthropology, queer studies, and diaspora studies,” says Nelli. She has taught in culturally diverse college settings, from State University of New York at Albany to Yerevan State Linguistic University, in Armenia, and values any opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and students pursuing a variety of disciplinary, geographical, and methodological interests, including international ethnographic research.
“I approach teaching as an opportunity to cultivate active social agency by engaging my students in process-based, multidisciplinary, active learning experiences,” says Nelli. She enjoys facilitating her students’ process of becoming active social agents by inviting them to explore issues of social (in)justice about which they are concerned, as a way of restoring our collective humanity, different layers of which have been stripped by systems of injustice in which we are all complicit. “Students have often commented how much they appreciate the autonomous critical thinking skills that they have developed through reading, discussion, and writing in my courses,” she says. “When they notice that the argument or claim that they thought was common sense is not shared by others, it can be a profound learning moment.” Nelli has taught a range of content-based writing courses, and considers writing an integral part of learning. “I approach writing as a thinking process,” she says. “My aim is to equip students with the ability to write clearly in order to be better able to process and effectively communicate complex information in and outside of academia.”
While always concerned with feminist questions, Nelli’s anthropological research started with a focus on the ways people negotiate their gender, ethnic, and sexual difference in Armenia, a post-socialist nation-state in the South Caucasus and its diaspora (in this case in the U.S.). It has since shifted to focus more overtly on feminist political work that cultivates feminist political consciousness, solidarity, and collective care, whether it be through more direct street protests and public performances or slow and indirect work, such as feminist storytelling.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
Sargsyan, Nelli and Larisa Kurtović. 2019. “After Utopia: Leftist Imaginaries and Activist Politics in the Postsocialist World.” In After Utopia: Leftist Imaginaries and Activist Politics in the Postsocialist World, a special issue of History and Anthropology30(1): 1-19.
Sargsyan, Nelli. 2019. “Experience-Sharing as Feminist Praxis: Imagining a Future of Collective Care.”In After Utopia: Leftist Imaginaries and Activist Politics in the Postsocialist World, a special issue of History and Anthropology 30(1): 67-90.
Sargsyan, Nelli. 2018. “What’s On the Horizon?: Stepping into Queer Futurity as Armenia(s).” In Queering Armenian Studies, a special issue of Armenian Review 56(1-2): 91-109.
Online Media (scholarly and otherwise)
Sargsyan, Nelli. 2018. «Ֆեմինիստների և ֆեմինիստական գործելաոճերի` քաղաքական երևակայության ձևավորմանն ուղղված կարևոր գործը Հայաստանում»: Սոցիոսկոպ [“The important Work of Feminists and Feminist Practices toward Cultivating Political Imagination in Armenia.” Socioscope]
Sargsyan, Nelli. 2018. “The Importance of Collective Care as a Feminist (Prefigurative) Political Act.” In Heinrich Böll-Stiftung South Caucasus Feminism and Gender Democracy(March)
Sargsyan, Nelli and Queering Yerevan. 2017. “Բացա(հայ)տում in Flight: Singing Tricksters, Imposters, Masqueraders.” In ARTMargins.
Sargsyan, Nelli. 2018. “Chapter 14: On the Wings of Communal Bravery,” in Counternarratives from Women of Color Academics: Bravery, Vulnerability, and Resistance. Eds. Manya Whitaker and Eric Grollman. Pp 107-114. London: Routledge.
Sargsyan-Pittman, Nelli. 2012. “Interrogating the Cosmopolitan: Carving and Curving a Queer Discursive Space within the Armenian Heteronormative Nationalism.” In Creoles, Diasporas, Cosmopolitanisms. Ed. David Gallagher. Pp 513-528. Palo Alto: Academica Press.
Sargsyan-Pittman, Nelli. 2011. “Interviews with Four Artists from Queering Yerevan’s “Queering Translation” Art Intervention.” In Queered: What’s To Be Done with Xcentric Art. Yerevan: Tigran Mets Press.