Zeynep Türkyilmaz

Wednesday, 23 January 2019, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Deported Twice: The Historiography of the Destruction of Pontic Greeks (1916-1921)

Zeynep Türkyilmaz
(EUME Fellow 2018/19)

Chair: Başak Tuğ
(Istanbul Bilgi University / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2018/19)

Zeynep Türkyilmaz' project investigates the forced deportations of the Greek Orthodox communities of Pontus, Black Sea region of Ottoman Anatolia in 1916 and 1921. These two consecutive deportations – or transfers of Greeks to the interior, rumların dahile sevki, as it was officially named – resulted not only in displacement of an ethno-religious community and culture deeply rooted in the land and landscape, but also in an abrupt annihilation of an exceptional form of co-existence, which had existed for several centuries. Indeed the Greeks of the Black Sea had escaped most of the traumatic events that targeted other Christian populations of the empire in the nineteenth century. Yet not only these two deportations labeled Pontic Greeks as a community of rebels, brigands and traitors, but also ensuing militia attacks helped de-Hellenize the entire region even before the population exchange of 1923-24. These deportations, however, have hardly attracted attention of the scholarly community of historians and genocide specialists, perhaps with the exception of the minority group of Pontic researchers. If the Pontic deportations and massacres are at all addressed in the modern Turkish or Ottoman historiography, they are either justified as the suppression of a local treacherous secessionist uprising against the Ottoman-Turkish center, or misconstrued as exigencies and chaos of wartime.
In this presentation, Zeynep Türkyilmaz will discuss the much ignored first wave of forced deportations carried out between 1916-17, focusing particularly on the processes of decision-making, its reception and eventually its implementation. Drawing on Ottoman archival documents, reports, memoirs and periodicals, this presentation will conduct a historiographical critique and offer an alternative framework to locate the Pontus Catastrophe in the temporally longer and spatially broader cases/events/episodes of violence in the Ottoman Empire and in Turkey. 

Zeynep Türkyilmaz
received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009.  Her dissertation, “Anxieties of Conversion: Missionaries, State and Heterodox Communities in the Late Ottoman Empire,” is based on intensive research conducted in Ottoman, British, and several American missionary archives. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill between 2009-2010 and a postdoctoral 2010/11 Fellow of EUME at the Forum Transregionale Studien. She worked as an Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College between 2011 and 2016 and as program coordinator and research fellow at Koc University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations finishing her book project based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include state-formation, gender, nationalism, colonialism, and religion with a focus on heterodoxy and missionary work in the Middle East from 1800 to the present. She returned as a EUME Fellow for the academic year of 2017/18 and continues to be affiliated with EUME in 2018/19 as a Fellow of the Forum Transregionale Studien. In 2018/19, she is associated with the Center for Global History at Freie Universität Berlin.