Archive for ‘A_A in ENGLISH’

June 11, 2011

Ebru – Weaving the Myth of a Europeanizing Turkey

by Azad Alik

Hrach Bayadyan

HETQ – This May, we had the opportunity to see two photo exhibits here in Yerevan. One was an extensive exhibit of the works by the New York-based Turkish photographer Attila Durak on display at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA) entitled “Erbru – Reflections of Cultural Diversity in Turkey”. The other presented the works of French-Armenian photographer Max Sivaslian entitled “We Once Lived There…” Both are related in some way to the issue of ethnic (religious) minorities living in Turkey.

Despite the fact that Sivaslian’s photos are far removed from being documentary testimonies, that main aim of the exhibition was clear. “We Once Lived There” refers to those locales (villages, towns, neighbourhoods) where Armenians once called home – from Van to Diyarbekir and even Istanbul. Now, others live in their former homes – Kurds, Turks, and Assyrians. The photographer firstly strives to reflect on the disappearance of Armenians from these locations; they either leave or are Islamicized.

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June 1, 2011

This pain is not ours

by Azad Alik

What we need is justice, not compassion

Serhat Uyurkulak

I’m thankful that I haven’t witnessed as many deaths close by. But in most visits of condolence, I came across a similar scene. As the suffering had soared up to an almost tangible degree, someone would suddenly burst into tears and moan that they so wanted to bring the deceased back from the tomb to the extent of declaring a willingness to go into the grave instead. Under the gaze of the surprised family members, people would secretly ask each other who that person might be. And, often, it would turn out that the ‘grief-thief’ was someone who had pangs of conscience for they would feel indebted to the deceased in one way or the other. The strangest thing would be the family’s almost forgetting their own grief to make grief-thief feel better. The real torment would begin when it befell on them to console that person with ill conscience. 

I do wish to be a person without a blemish on my conscience and life, and I try to do my best to live like one. Being persons with ‘clear consciences’ was an expression in the declaration of the ‘This Pain is Ours’ initiative that more frequently appeared on social and other media as April 24th drew near. The declaration claimed that what had been done to the Armenians who were

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June 1, 2011

Hovik’s Fate – Boy Serves Tea in Istanbul

by Azad Alik

Edik Baghdasaryan

HETQ – During a recent trip to Istanbul, I was constantly taking notes of the people I met along the way.These were Armenians, both locals and those from Armenia, Kurds, Turks… Here’s a sample few:

Hovik Shahinyan – 13 years-old
Eliza – Hovik’s aunt
Zhanna – Hovik’s sister; 15 years-old
Hakob – Hovik’s father, who is physically disabled and can hardly move around

Most Armenians from the RA are located in Istanbul. It’s easier to find work here than in other Turkish cities. Then again, you have the local “Bolsahay” community with its churches, schools and other institutions.

I assume it creates a security blanket of sorts.

While the exact number of Armenians from Armenia now residing in Turkey is unknown, rest assured that the Turkish security agencies know where each lives.

Arayik, whose been living in Istanbul for the past 13 years told me, “They can round us up at any time. Arayik has had his share of run-ins with the cops. Each month he returns to Moscow in order not to violate his visa requirements. The next day he returns to Turkey.

Many follow Arayik’s example. Others make the trip to Georgia. Most return the following day.

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May 25, 2011

A few e-mails on Mladen Stilinovic

by elif gül tirben

Mladen Stilinovic

Merve Ünsal, İpek Kuran, m-est, May 9, 2011

Below is an e-mail dialogue between İpek and myself. Why Mladen Stilinovic? Why publish it now? I think the answer is hidden somewhere between a rapidly developing art world, what it means to produce work in 2011 and the visceral experience of the political, the aesthetic and the human in an object as simple as a handmade book. But, I’m not quite sure.
Merve Ünsal

Dear Merve,

Last summer, I got a chance to see Mladen Stilinovic’s artist’s books at the e-flux project space. When I saw the exhibition, I already knew he was an Eastern European artist who produced during a time of war, conflict and strong political divide between, what in the 20th century might have been appropriately called, the East and the West. During a talk at Cooper Union, I saw the way he talked about being an artist at that certain time and place and the struggles he faced in representation, exhibition and recognition. This is precisely why I consider myself a partial viewer.

I read Stilinovic’s discussion of the color red in one of his books that was exhibited at e-flux and the need to de-symbolize it; I could generalize his arguments to re-evaluate the role all prior knowledge in

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May 21, 2011

Daily life of Armenians before 1915: Local histories, dialects, letters and more, on Houshamadyan website

by Azad Alik

Houshamadyan is a website project to reconstruct daily life and social environment of the Ottoman Armenians before 1915. The project’s research areas include social history, the history of daily life, local microhistory, dialects, music, literature and material culture. The collection and preservation of culturally valuable artifacts of all kinds produced by the Ottoman Armenians such as musical recordings of historical value, old photographs, pictures, old film footage, oral history recordings etc. are of special importance. Similarly printed books, periodical publications and archival material, or papers in individual collections such as correspondence, unpublished notes, official documents, autobiographical details are important source for Houshamadyan.

Houshamadyan places great importance on individual’s archives to enrich the project. Historian Dr. Vahe Tachjian who initiated Houshamadyan, invites each visitor to share his or her personal archives, photographs, books, memoirs and any kind of information that…

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May 16, 2011

Genocide Denial Light

by Azad Alik


Deep Mountain: Across the Turkish-Armenian Divide

By: Ece Temelkuran London: Verso, 2010, 256 pp., $26.95, paperback, $16 —

Reviewed by G. M. Goshgarian

Winter 2011 Vol:XIII-2

NEW POLITICS – In a sober, balanced sketch of the history and historiography of the 1915 Armenian genocide included in a two-part article on Turkey published in the London Review of Books in September 2008, Perry Anderson notes that the perpetrators’ academic defenders have largely abandoned a discredited strategy of blanket denial for one of minimization or relativization, now increasingly discredited in its turn. He might have added that there has been a shift from genocide denial unabashed to genocide denial light in non-academic writing as well. The difference is that, outside the university, efforts at relativization or minimization continue to enjoy credit in the unlikeliest places. Verso, for example, has just released one: Ece Temelkuran’s Deep Mountain: Across the Turkish-Armenian Divide, a translation of some lightly upgraded newspaper journalism that began life in the mainstream Turkish daily Milliyet in 2006 and appeared in book form in Turkey two years later. The cover blurb touts it as a “nuanced and moving exploration of the living history [of] and continuing dispute on the Armenian genocide.”

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May 13, 2011

Critical Interventions: Kurdish Intellectuals Confronting the Armenian Genocide

by Azad Alik

Bilgin Ayata

The Armenian Weekly
April 2009 Magazine

In my contribution to last year’s special issue, I had argued that an intensified Armenian-Kurdish dialogue carries the promising potential to become an alternative approach to the ongoing Armenian-Turkish discourse on reconciliation, which has traversed dialogue into a form of domination and containment. [1] I also argued that the compartmentalization of the Armenian and Kurdish issues into separate discussions represents a continuation of a divide-and-rule mentality that only serves the interests of the Turkish state and weakens the position of Armenian and Kurdish intellectuals in these isolated debates. In order to overcome this compartmentalization, I called for an intensified Armenian-Kurdish dialogue, and the cultivation of an empowering alliance to confront the atrocities of the past and engage with them as a challenge of and for the present.  One year after that last issue, I believe that such an Armenian-Kurdish dialogue is ever more important, especially in light of the following three developments: At the intergovernmental level, the diplomatic traffic regarding Armenian-Turkish relations has intensified with the election of President Obama who had pledged during his campaign to address the Armenian Genocide as a genocide.

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May 11, 2011

Queens of Hearts: Round and About ‘Deep Mountain’, etc.

by Burcu Gürsel

When Taleen Babayan’s interview with Ece Temelkuran, the author of Deep Mountain, first began circulating in a somewhat scholarly context, I took a deep breath, or sigh, and said “pass.” But it came back to haunt me.

My immediate readings then and now might touch as many nerves in others as Temelkuran’s own comments touched in me, but so be it for the moment. There will surely come a time when Turkey will graduate from producing books that speak on Armenians’ behalf or reduce them to the usual stereotypes—when the formula “good will + supposed hard work + good connections = (surprise!) success story” will no longer carry the day. On that utopian day, self-proclaimed pioneers will finally stop telling us that, thanks to their “ground breaking” (read: briskly selling) book, the Turkish people has at last faced up to a vital problem and learned how to cope with it for the very first time.

Or are we readers doomed to pick the very same card from the deck every single time?

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May 9, 2011

A New Study from the Gomidas Institute: “Talaat Pasha’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1917”

by Azad Alik

In 2008 Murat Bardakci, the Turkish journalist and historian, published a facsimile of a report on Ottoman Armenians from Talaat Pasha’s private archives. The report had been given to Bardakci by Talaat’s widow in 1982. In his own presentation of the untitled and undated report, Bardakci acknowledged that the materials he was presenting were open to interpretation. He called the report “A General Account of the Armenian Population after the Population Transfer [Tehcir] (possibly 1915-1916).”[1] Bardakci’s work was somewhat derided by Turkish nationalist historians and generally ignored by others.[2]

A more recent study re-examined Talaat’s report using Ottoman records for a completely different interpretation. The new study identified sufficient evidence that Talaat’s report was based on a special survey he had ordered in February 1917 and it produced some of the reports that appear to have been produced after the survey was ordered. These reports, from the Turkish archives, showed identical or near identical statistics to Talaat’s report.

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May 8, 2011

A peace to be won*

by Azad Alik

 Hans – Lukas Kieser

A book title like The Missed Peace, as I had entitled my book eleven years ago, inevitably raises the question about a peace to be won.

In this talk, dear audience, I would like to say a few words on the sources, topics and the human rights perspective of The Missed Peace, and first on how I came to write it.

While studying history in Basel in the 1980s, I was confronted with unrest in Turkey at the time because I met refugees of my own age who had fled the military junta of 1980, not a few of whom had been tortured. More generally, I met a number of migrant families who had fled situations devoid of prospects for the future in eastern Anatolia and elsewhere.

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