BELMONT, Mass. — Umit Kurt of Clark University will present a talk entitled “‘Legal’ and ‘Official’ Plundering of Armenian and Jewish Properties During the Armenian Genocide and Holocaust: A Comparative Perspective,” on Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave.
The state-orchestrated plunder of Armenian and Jewish property immediately impoverished its victims; this was simultaneously a condition for and a consequence of the Armenian Genocide and Holocaust. As the historian of Nazi looting and plundering of Jewish property Martin Dean writes, ethnic cleansing and genocide usually have a “powerful materialist component: seizure of property, looting of the victims, and their economic displacement are intertwined with other motives for racial and interethnic violence and intensify their devastating effects.”
A series of laws and decrees as well as complex bureaucratic mechanisms were created in the Ottoman-Turkish Republican and Nazi Germany periods concerning the administration of the belongings of the deported or killed Armenians and Jews. This presentation aims at analyzing and comparing the processes of expropriation of these two victim groups. In doing so, it will examine how the properties of Armenians and Jews changed hands under a veneer of legality. The presentation will discuss similarities and differences between the two dispossession processes.
Kurt is a PhD candidate in history at Clark University and a lecturer at Sabanci University. A 2014 recipient of a Gulbenkian Foundation Armenian Studies Scholarship, his main area of interest is the confiscation of Armenian properties and the role of local elites/notables in Aintab during the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1921. He is the author of numerous historical and political articles in scholarly journals and newspapers including Nations and Nationalism, Turkish Studies, Turkish Review, Culture and Religion, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Turkish Journal for Politics, Tarih ve Toplum Yeni Yaklasimlar, Birikim, Toplumsal Tarih, Cogito, Taraf, Radikal, and Bianet. He is the author of several books in Turkish and co-author with Taner Akçam of Kanunlarin Ruhu: Emval-i Metruke Kanunlarinda Soykirimin Izlerini Sürmek (The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide), to be published in English in April 2015 by Berghahn.