Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

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

This study is an attempt to reconstruct the muted violent past by breaking the monopoly of the Turkish state over the memory of the Armenian genocide.

Duration
2010  -   2015
Funding
NUFFIC/Huygens Scholarship Programme NUFFIC/Huygens Scholarship Programme

Since the beginning of the 21 st century a ‘memory war’ is taking place in Turkey over the Armenian genocide. Hence, despite the ongoing silence and censorship, there is a plethora of initiatives that commemorate the Armenian genocide in Turkey. These initiatives mostly take place outside the sphere of ‘official’ history. None however, remains unchallenged.

This research focuses on one particular sphere, i.e. the cultural sphere. The question is, how do cultural texts, which broach the question of memory, function within this specific political and social setting? What aspects of history can they make visible? By raising this question, this project situates itself squarely in the tradition of memory studies project, which analyzes interdisciplinary media that helped to refashion a new collective remembrance about the Armenians in modern Turkey in the 21 st century. Besides, the project adresses the question as to why the Turkish government seeks to silence Armenian memory? What does the state aim to achieve by censoring other historiographies about the past of Turkey? Why is this silence so important for the Turkish nation?

This project has revolved around the question of how to represent historical and collective memory in literature, the visual arts, commemorative architecture, museums and films.  I am specifically interested in the way in which memory is constructed under the conditions of censorship and state pressure.

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