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George and Irina Schaeffer Center

Shapes, Legitimation, and Legacies of Violence in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey: From Abdülhamid II to Erdoğan

Virtual Event | Registration Required
Monday, November 23, 2020 - 18:30

Stephen Astourian will provide a reflection on the nature, causes, and justifications of collective and State violence from the late Ottoman Empire to the present. His talk will be commented by Ronald Suny. 

Information on accessing the conference sessions will be shared with all registrants 24 hours in advance of the start of the conference.

About the event

Turkey has gone through significant transformations over the last century—from the Ottoman Empire and Young Turk era to the Republic of today—but throughout it has demonstrated troubling continuities in its encouragement and deployment of mass violence. In particular, the construction of a Muslim-Turkish identity has been achieved in part by designating “internal enemies” at whom public hatred can be directed. This talk, whose title is the same as that of a recently published volume co-edited by the speaker and Dr. Raymond Kevorkian, will outline the main characteristics of the very diverse instances of collective and state violence stretching from the Hamidian period to the present. It will then reflect first upon the structural causes of that violence affecting large segments of the population of Turkey and targeting varied ethnic-religious groups and second upon how that violence has propelled the nation’s very sense of itself.



Dr. Stephan Astourian is the William Saroyan Director of the Armenian Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor in Armenian and Caucasian history in its Department of History. 

Dr. Astourian is currently serving as a member of the Academic Board of the Zoryan Institute; of the Editorial Board of the Armenian Review and the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies; of the Scientific Council of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of Yerevan; and of the Executive Committee of the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at U. C. Berkeley.

Dr. Astourian served as editor-in-chief of Jusur: The UCLA Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (1988-1990); edited MemorIkon (Los Angeles: Arvest Publishing, 1997); is the co-editor with Dr. Raymond Kévorkian of a soon to be published volume entitled Collective and State Violence in Turkey: The Construction of a National Identity from Empire to Nation-State (Oxford: Berghahn, August 2020); and the author of a forthcoming volume entitled At the Crossroads of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: History, Territory, Nationalisms (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2020). He has published quite extensively on the origins and historiography of the Armenian Genocide and on modern Caucasian history, including post-Soviet Caucasian politics.


Ronald Grigor Suny is William H. Sewell, Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan and Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago.  He was the first holder of the Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of Michigan, where he founded and directed the Armenian Studies Program.  He is author of The Baku Commune: Class and Nationality in the Russian Revolution; The Making of the Georgian Nation; Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History; The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union; The Soviet Experiment; “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide; Red Flag Unfurled: History, Historians, and the Russian Revolution; and co-author with Valerie Kivelson of Russia’s Empires; Stalin: Passage to Revolution; and Red Flag Wounded:  Stalinism and the Fate of the Soviet Experiment.  He is currently working on a book on the recent upsurge of exclusivist nationalisms and authoritarian populisms:  Forging the Nation:  The Making and Faking of Nationalisms.


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