A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire

A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire

A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire

A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire

Synopsis

One hundred years after the deportations and mass murder of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and other peoples in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the history of the Armenian genocide is a victim of historical distortion, state-sponsored falsification, and deep divisions between Armeniansand Turks. Working together for the first time, Turkish, Armenian, and other scholars present here a compelling reconstruction of what happened and why. This volume gathers the most up-to-date scholarship on Armenian genocide, looking at how the event has been written about in Western and Turkish historiographies; what was happening on the eve of the catastrophe; portraits of the perpetrators; detailed accounts of the massacres; how the event hasbeen perceived in both local and international contexts, including World War I; and reflections on the broader implications of what happened then. The result is a comprehensive work that moves beyond nationalist master narratives and offers a more complete understanding of this tragic event.

Excerpt

Nearly a century after its occurrence, the Armenian Genocide of 1915 remains one of the most painful episodes of mass killing in the history of the modern period. The conscience of contemporary world society is haunted by images of doomed Armenian women and children, wandering aimlessly in the Anatolian plateau, mad with hunger and grief, and by photographs of rows of corpses of murdered Armenian men and boys, guarded casually by Turkish soldiers. Like the indelible impressions of the victims of Auschwitz on modern consciousness, those of the Armenian genocide call out for remembering and for the historical understanding of a series of events that concluded with the elimination of the Armenian nation from its ancient homelands in Anatolia.

The Armenian genocide is also a painful historical episode because of the persistence over the entire history of the Turkish Republic of official government denial that genocide took place. Turkish denial erects practical barricades to the study and understanding of the events of 1915 by complicating archival access and intimidating scholars from engaging in wide-ranging research into the origins, course, and consequences of the genocide. Turkish government lobbying of foreign governments and support of foreign scholars who join the Turkish chorus of denial also holds back progress in the historiography and impedes a sense of common purpose in investigating the origins of mass murder. Denial is a continual source of injury to the Armenian community as a whole, and in particular to the few remaining survivors of the genocide and their progeny. But one could argue that it also undermines the Turks’ ability to deal openly and frankly with their own historical past and present. In fact, those Turks who are willing to write without bias about the Armenian genocide tend to do so out of a deep sense of patriotism and loyalty to the Turkish nation. A healthy national consciousness cannot abide nasty secrets hidden away in a locked drawer. An increasing number of Turkish intellectuals, writers, and scholars . . .

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