Dr. Ümit Kurt to Give Three Public Lectures at Fresno State


FRESNO — “A Rescuer, an Enigma, and a Génocidaire: Cemal Pasha” will be the topic of Dr. Ümit Kurts’s presentation on Friday, September 21, at 7.30 p.m., in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191 on the Fresno State campus. The presentation is part of the Fall Lecture Series of the Armenian Studies Program. A welcoming hors d’oeuvres reception will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. immediately preceding the lecture in the University Business Center Gallery.

Kurt was appointed the 15th Henry S. Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies for the Fall 2018 semester.

Known for his rigid policies towards Arab nationalists and Zionists during his posting in Greater Syria, Cemal Pasha and his role in the Armenian Genocide has always remained an issue of contention. There are important accounts of Cemal’s activity, particularly during the First World War, which have found him to have had no active role in the deportation and extermination of Armenians — here differing from the other two pillars of the CUP, Enver and Talaat.

On the contrary, they argue that he extended a helping hand to Armenians in so far as his authority and power would allow, and that he even faced off against members of the central government in Istanbul and the CUP head office to do so. This lecture will question that argument, examining the politics of Cemal Pasha during the war, while concentrating on his approach to the Armenian matter. Kurt will also explore Cemal’s own responsibility for the Genocide, in so far context and contingencies played a role in this crime.

Kurt received his PhD from the Department of History at Clark University in 2016. He received his MA in European Studies from Sabanci University in 2008 and undergraduate degree in Political Science from Middle East Technical University in 2006. He was part of the Faculty of Arts and Science in Sabanci University, from 2012 to 2014.

He is currently working as a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

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Kurt is the author of The Great, Hopeless Turkish Race: Fundamentals of Turkish Nationalism in the Turkish Homeland, 1911-1916 (Istanbul: Iletisim Publishing House, 2012) and the author, with Taner Akçam, of The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015), translated by Aram Arkun.

The lecture is free and open to the public.


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