Nebraska to host international conference on Armenian Genocide

On the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is hosting a two-day conference on March 19-20, 2015, entitled “Crossing the Centennial: The Historiography of the Armenian Genocide Re-Evaluated” that will examine the latest developments in the historiography of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Weekly reports.

The conference, organized by Prof. Bedross Der Matossian from the Department of History at UNL, is co-sponsored by the Harris Center for Judaic Studies, the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) in Belmont, MA, and the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) in cooperation with the Department of History, the Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Program, and the Institute of Ethnic Studies at UNL.

Twenty-two scholars from Armenia, Cambodia, Canada, Holland, Hungary, Israel and the United States representing 17 different academic institutions are going to take part in the conference. Some of the participants include, Hilmar Kaiser, Stefan Ihrig, Benny Morris, Joceline Chabot, Richard Hovannisian, Michelle Tusan, and Keith Watenpaugh.

The conference will focus on four themes that had been previously under-researched but which in recent years have gained more scholarly attention and analytical depth. These themes are Humanitarianism and Humanitarian Intervention in the Armenian Genocide, Women and Children in the Armenian Genocide, Comparative Dimensions of the Armenian Genocide, and the Impact of the Armenian Genocide. Specific papers focus on Armenian property issues in French Mandated Cilicia (1918-23), gendered violence and Genocide’s opponents inside the Ottoman Empire.

“In the past couple of years there has been substantial interest with the Armenian Genocide in Academia,” Der Matossian told the Armenian Reporter. “As we are approaching the centennial many academic conferences are being organized across the United States. In terms of publications, university presses are also interested to publish new work on the Armenian Genocide. We will see new books by such scholars as Ronald Grigor Suny, Benny Morris and Dror Zeevi, Stefan Ihrig, and Michelle Tusan.

“What is unique about the UNL conference is that it is organized mostly by the efforts of Harris Center for Judiac studies with the co-sponsorship of NAASR and SAS,” Der Matossian continued. “We do not have an Armenian chair, nor an Armenian program here but the interest about the Armenian genocide is increasing. I myself teach a seminar on Crimes Against Humanity at the History Department in which we concentrate a lot on the Armenian Genocide along with the other genocides of the 20th century.”

When asked if he thinks this interest in the Armenian Genocide studies will continue post-centennial, Der Matossian responded: “Of course the Anniversary is an important occasion to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. And I think that all Armenians are working hard towards that goal both on the academic and political fronts.

“I am a bit concerned that the international interest might taper off after the centennial. The current turmoil in the Middle East and the significant role that Turkey plays in the region will discourage some major countries to tackle with the issue. Though the political dimension of the Armenian genocide is important, I think that concentrating on academia is equally important. As an educator I would like to see that the Armenian Genocide be taught at different universities here in the U.S. I would like to see that more young scholars get involved in researching the Armenian Genocide not only from the perspective of Armenian history, but in the context of global waves of mass violence that inflicted societies in the 20th centuries. More support needs to be given to scholars who do research on the Armenian Genocide, regardless of their background.

“From the perspective of a historian the centennial is just three numbers: one and two zeros. For me personally nothing is going to change. Armenians will continue with their recognition efforts. The debates in Turkey about the Armenian Genocide will continue and hopefully it would not only be limited to a couple of universities and a tight circle of leftist intellectuals in Istanbul writing for Taraf or Radikal.

The regional situation in the Middle East will dictate the future with regard to the attitude of different regional or global powers to the Armenian Genocide. We might even see more morally bankrupt authoritarian regimes in the Middle East “recognizing” the Armenian genocide which itself is an insult to the memory of the victims.

“In one sentence things will continue to be the same as they were during the 99th anniversary,” Der Matossian concluded.

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