Remembering Armenians in Van Turkey
Ege, Gözde Burcu (2012) Remembering Armenians in Van Turkey. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1421141 (Table of Contents)
This thesis analyzes how Armenians are remembered in Van, a city in eastern Turkey, which had a significant Armenian population before 1915. Through the subjective narratives and everyday practices of the current residents of Van, I argue that there is not a single way of remembering Armenians. The most significant factor that affected the way my informants remembered the Armenians is the way they perceived the Kurdish issue. In the narratives of those politicized by the Kurdish movement feelings of guilt and responsibility along with wishes for reconciliation and compensation were present. My Informants claimed that in childhood they used to listen to their elderly who proudly narrated the massacres Armenians went through. However, after experiencing similar state violence as a result of the conflict between the PKK and the state, these stories of violence began to disturb them. I argue that by forming a historical connection between themselves and Armenians, they created a subversive discourse. The remnants of Armenians figured as mnemonic devices enabling them to imagine the past. I also argue that those who are politically and/or religiously conservative did not share the same sympathy towards Armenians. Moreover, the narratives of some other informants were in line with Turkish nationalist discourse. They argued that they were the real victims of 1915 and drew parallels between the current Kurdish issue and the events of 1915. Through the study of a particular locality, Van, this research shows that analyzing different interpretations of the past constructed through different subjective positions opens a way to attend to plural meanings of the past in relation to the present. This thesis makes a contribution to current debates on postmemory and perpetrator memory in a context in which the violence of the past bleeds into the violence of the present.
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