HAMILTON, N.Y.—Prof. Taner Akcam lectured to a packed Persson Hall Auditorium at Colgate University on Thurs., April 5, launching his new book The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, which has just been published by Princeton University Press. Akcam spoke about the importance of the new archival documents he unearthed in the ministry of the interior archives in Istanbul. He explored the Young Turks’ policies of forced conversions and planned absorption of orphaned Armenian children as a dimension of the genocidal process through which Armenian identity was obliterated by the central planning of the Ottoman government in 1915. Akcam also discussed the significance of Talat Pasha’s orders to massacre about 200,000 Armenians in Der Zor, Syria, in the summer of 1916. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session and a reception.
In his introduction, Akcam’s host, Prof. Peter Balakian, noted: “Akçam’s work remains groundbreaking, vitalizing, essential. Not only has he opened up space inside Turkey for an honest evaluation of the genocide of the Armenians, but also he has given courage to a generation of younger Turkish scholars to tackle this history from the premise of truthful acknowledgment of Lemkin’s definition of genocide.”
The lecture was sponsored by Colgate’s Office of the Dean and Provost, its Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and the Core Program, in which Balakian teaches his course on modern genocide.
Akcam holds the Kaloosdian and Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University.