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PhD Defence

The Arts of Memory: The Remembrance of the Armenians in Turkey

Wednesday 18 May 2016
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Image from the animation film Chienne d'histoire designed by Thomas Azuelos
Image from the animation film Chienne d'histoire designed by Thomas Azuelos


  • Prof. E. van Alphen

Short description of PhD research

One century after the genocide the Turkish state still denies the violence committed against the Armenians. Despite the continuing silence and censorship, there is a plethora of initiatives that commemorate the Armenian genocide in Turkey. None however has remained unchallenged. It is usually outside the sphere of “official” history that breakthroughs take place. In this study, I focussend on one particular sphere, i.e. the cultural sphere. My questions were: how do cultural texts, which broach the question of memory, function within this specific political and social setting? Which aspects of the historical past do they make visible?

By raising these questions I situate myself in the tradition of memory studies. I analyze artworks in different media that helped to shape a new collective remembrance of the Armenians in modern Turkey in the twenty-first century. Rather than providing a generalizing overview, I seek to understand the specific textual dynamics of a small body of works. Every chapter also questions a specific concept in memory studies (postmemory, site of memory, counter-monument, allegory) by inserting it into a historical context that differs from that of the Holocaust due to the key role played by censorship and denial. By closely examining a selection of specific cultural texts I aim to discover in what ways we need to rethink these concepts.

Summary of dissertation


You need to have a personal invitation to attend the ceremony.


Dissertations by Leiden promovendi can be found in digital form via the Leiden Repository and are generally freely accessible. In a small number of cases, there is a temporary embargo on a dissertation and the text is then available at a later date.

Questions from the press

Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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