Yektan Tuerkyilmaz

Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The Context and Afterlife of the Armenian Genocide

Yektan Türkyilmaz
(EUME Fellow 2017-20)

Chair: Alice von Bieberstein
(Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg 2017/18)

The current EUME project of Türkyilmaz traces the contacts and confluences of Armenian Genocide scholarship and historiography with the broader body of literature on collective violence, and especially with the Holocaust Studies. Despite the common tendency to employ a blueprint of the Holocaust as an archetype, ironically, the dialogue between the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide studies has been scant. In contrast, the framework here pays particular attention to the ways in which critical genocide studies and especially contemporary Holocaust studies, that increasingly highlight the intricacies and paradoxes of decision making processes, can offer us new avenues for analysis.

In his talk, Türkyilmaz will present his most recent work that addresses the decision-making processes in the Armenian genocide. For his previous work, he has explored the state-community interactions and political debates within the Armenian communities on the eve of the genocide, carrying out an ethnographical survey of historical sources and accounts. In so doing, his analysis has engaged in a conceptual and methodological evaluation of widespread deterministic, teleological and casual/linear models for the precedents of the exterminationist violence and the genocidal escalation. Instead, he offers an actor-based framework that highlights institutional interests and political agency. At all stages of the research, a key goal of his study has also been to historicize the making of major threads and presumptions in narrative construction. Hence, he traces the imprints and influences of i) denialism, ii) genocide stereotyping (particularly around the Holocaust), and iii) regional and global political circumstances.

Drawing on Armenian, Ottoman, American and British archival and library sources, this presentation will explore how an actor centered, non-teleological approach would change the way we understand the Armenian genocide. The discussion will underscore the ways in which spatial, temporal and methodological shifts in research design are imperative for a sophisticated, nuanced and conceptually fruitful depiction of the decision-making processes.  

Yektan Türkyilmaz received his PhD from Duke University Department of Cultural Anthropology. He taught courses at University of Cyprus, Sabancı, Bilgi and Duke Universities addressing the debates around the notions of collective violence, memory making and reconciliation. He is working on his book manuscript based on his dissertation, Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1915, that addresses the conflict in Eastern Anatolia in the early 20th century and the memory politics around it. Yektan Türkyilmaz has been a 2014/15 EUME Fellow and returns as a EUME Fellow for the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

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