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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Material Legacies: The Post-Genocide Family Trees in Armenia

Thursday 9 March 2023
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What's New?! Spring Lecture Series 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Davit Hamoyan family tree

This talk explores the materialized memories of the Armenian genocide in Armenia in the Soviet and post-Soviet contexts. Analyzing dozens of family trees (tohmatsar) that the descendants of Ottoman-born Armenians create, archive, and display in their homes, I show how such objects take on a testimonial quality, materially transmitting a past catastrophic experience into the present. Through arborescent metaphors, the post-genocide family trees reflect Armenian descendants’ understandings of ancestral and geographic “roots.” They evoke a sense of continuity between generations and a naturalized link with the ancestral “homeland.” They also serve as visual testimonies of collective death and survival in the face of persecution. They address the fate of the dead and the missing with symbols of truncated branches, Christian crosses, or date marks while celebrating the survivors and the continuous blossoming of lineages in the face of genealogical disruption. By putting generations branch after branch, these trees inspire a sense of immortality projected onto the future of the descendants and the nation.

About Ayşenur Korkmaz

Ayşenur Korkmaz holds a Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam, European Studies and an MA degree from Central European University, Nationalism Studies. Her current work focuses the multifaceted aftereffects of the Armenian genocide in Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia. At the crossroads of history and anthropology, she explores how the genocide survivors and their descendants in Armenia have been reflecting on the violent past, losses, and expulsion from the ancestral homeland (Ergir). Korkmaz published several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the Hamidian Massacres, the Armenian genocide, post-genocide memories in Soviet Armenia, and Armenian roots tourism in eastern Turkey

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