Akcam to Speak at NAASR about Forced Assimilation and Genocide

On Thurs., Feb. 3, Dr. Taner Akcam, the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Professor of Modern Armenian History and Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, will give a lecture titled “Forced Assimilation As a Structural Component of the Armenian Genocide,” a presentation of research in progress, at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center in Belmont, Mass.

Taner Akcam

Recent genocide scholarship has rediscovered the vital work of Raphael Lemkin—not only as a legal scholar but also as an historian and social scientist. His unpublished autobiography and work on the history of genocide have given new inspirations and ideas to a new generation of scholars to rethink and reevaluate existing scholarship.

Lemkin wrote, “Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.” Akcam argues that this “the second phase” can take many different forms, but that assimilation is among the most effective ways to achieve the desired result.

According to Akcam, because similarity to the Holocaust has tended to be the yardstick against which occurrences of mass violence are measured, in the Armenian case some of the most significant structural components of the Armenian Genocide—such as the religious conversion or the forced assimilation of Armenian children into Muslim households—have been ignored or deemphasized because they played no role in the annihilation of the Jews in Europe.

Following Lemkin and, more importantly, based on newly revealed documents from the Ottoman archives, Akcam argues that assimilation was a structural element in the genocidal process, and calls for analysis and a reassessment of the methods and motivations of this aspect of the Armenian Genocide.

Taner Akcam was born in 1953 in the Ardahan province, Turkey. He is the author of 10 scholarly works of history and sociology, including From Empire To Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide and A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility, as well as numerous articles in Turkish, German, and English.

The lecture will begin promptly at 8 p.m. Admission is free (donations are appreciated). For more information, call (617) 489-1610, emailing hq@naasr.org, or writing to NAASR, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478.

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