FRESNO — Dr. Ümit Kurt will give a presentation on “Microhistories of the Armenian Genocide” on Friday, December 9, at 7 p.m., in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, on the Fresno State campus. The event is organized by the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State.
The Armenian Genocide was a mass violence event committed by a wide–ranging group of perpetrators. The individuals who were involved in this atrocity did so in line with their own decisions, regardless of the circumstances, making individual responsibility a pertinent concept. Alleging that this mass violence was committed only by a group headed by the CUP or Talat Pasha (infamously known as the architect of the genocide) causes us to, primarily, disregard the aggregate dimension of the Genocide itself as well as the individual and collective responsibilities of those who partook of their own free will.
It becomes necessary to construct a new paradigm in this regard by shifting our point of focus from CUP elites to local (and grass-roots perpetrators), as the responsibility for the destruction of Ottoman Armenians is not limited to merely the central government, CUP dignitaries, or Talat Pasha.
Research into the micro-history of the Armenian genocide has made use of various often neglected or overlooked primary sources to shed light on the fate of survivors, as well as the many more who perished. Rather than relying on the secondary literature examining this part of Asia Minor with a macro-level focus, uncovering under-utilized archival documents grants passage to the largely unknown world of the localities. This lecture focuses on the scholarship about genocidal activity at the local level(s) and different regions and the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians from the perspective of microhistories.
Kurt is assistant professor in the School of Humanities, Creative Industry, and Social Sciences (History) and an affiliate of the Centre for the Study of Violence at the University of Newcastle, Australia. A former Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, he is the author The Armenians of Aintab: The Economics of Genocide in an Ottoman Province (Harvard University Press, 2021; received PROSE Award Finalist in the category of World History by Association of American Publishers), Antep 1915: Genocide and Perpetrators (Ilesitim, 2018) and the coauthor of The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (Berghahn, 2015). He is the co-editor of the volumes of Armenians and Kurds in the Late Ottoman Empire (Armenian Series of The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2020) and The Committee of Union and Progress: Founders, Ideology, and Structure (Armenian Series of The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2021).
Dr. Kurt’s book, The Armenians of Aintab: The Economics of Genocide in an Ottoman Province, will be on sale at the event.