Anna Leyloyan-Yekmalyan

Interview with the Director of the Maison des étudiants arméniens

Tell us about your background and your arrival at the Cité internationale.

I’m an art historian, a lecturer at INaLCO, and I specialise in art and medieval iconography from the Caucasus and in Eastern Christianity. I joined in 1988 after my studies at the National Institute of Theatre and Fine Arts in Yerevan (1983-1988), editing the Armenian Encyclopaedia as the Chief Scientific Editor in the fine arts department.

I was invited to Paris in 1995 by the Fondation Sirarpie Der Nersessian and I had the chance to deepen my specialisation as a medievalist at the École Pratique des Hautes études (EPHE) and at the Catholic University of Paris. I obtained by doctoral degree in history of medieval art from EPHE in 2003.

I’ve been a teacher at INaLCO since 1997 and since 2009 I’ve been a lecturer in the Russian and Eurasian departments.

I came about the Cité internationale in 1995 when I arrived in France. I integrated into the Maison des étudiants arméniens as a resident. Several years later I returned there as a teacher-researcher with the organisation of the project “Armenian Studies Week” which I had the pleasure of managing for nine years between 2009 and 2018 at the request of the Blue Cross of Armenians in France. Finally, since 2005 I’ve had the honour of being the director of this very same building.

What do you think makes the Cité internationale a unique campus in the world?

The defining feature of the Cité internationale rests in its multiculturality that is promoted by buildings with a national and/or cultural identity.

How does living in your house allow residents to have a different outlook on the world and how is it a spring board for their futures?

The Maison des étudiants arméniens is associated not with a country but a nation. According to the desire of its founder, the house brings together young people from the Armenian diaspora and from Armenia itself, but also students from diverse and varied origins and nationalities. More than twenty nationalities live together every year in this small building in a very familial atmosphere. The friendships and kinships of today create the personal and professional networks of tomorrow with the added value of the international dimension that the Cité internationale provides.

If you had to sum up the Cité internationale in one word, what would it be and why?

“Interculturality” – with a view of cohesion and understanding of different cultures all while respecting everyone’s distinctive characteristics.