NAASR Christmas Open House to Feature Ekmekcioglu Talk

BELMONT, Mass.—On Thurs., Dec. 6, Dr. Lerna Ekmekcioglu, the McMillan-Stewart Career Development Assistant Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, will give a lecture entitled “Wishful Thinking or Insidious Camouflage? Armenians Responding to the New Turkey (1923-33).” The talk will highlight the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center’s 2012 Christmas Open House, which begins at 6 p.m. and concludes at 11 p.m., with Ekmekcioglu’s talk set for 8 p.m.

Lerna Ermekcioglu

Ekmekcioglu will examine the previously under-studied Armenian community in Turkey in the first decade of the Turkish Republic.  How did Armenians respond to the establishment of the new Turkey in 1923?  Was this republic really “new” for them? What can we learn about the early Turkish Republic when we look at it from the perspective of its Armenian citizens?

Focusing on 1920’s and 1930’s Armenian spokespeople, intellectuals, and lay and religious leadership, Ekmekcioglu will demonstrate that Armenian responses to the state’s policies (homogenization, secularization, Westernization) included cooperation, accommodation, and camouflaging, as well as certain forms of more overt resistance that took the shape of calls to preserve “Armenianness” inside those spaces where the state did not care or dare to interfere. She argues that neither the Turkish Republic’s policies nor the Armenian responses were completely new; the Ottoman past mattered much more than either group would admit.

Ekmekcioglu joined MIT in 2011 after a postdoc year at the University of Michigan’s Armenian Studies Program.  The holder of a doctorate from New York University, she teaches courses related to the modern Middle East, with a focus on its ethnic diversity and majority-minority relations.  She is also affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies Program, and teaches courses on gender in the Middle East and North Africa.  As the holder of the McMillan-Stewart Chair she organizes lectures that pertain to women in the developing world.

She is currently working on a monograph titled Surviving the New Turkey: Armenians in Post-Ottoman Istanbul, which analyzes the ways in which survivors of the genocide who continued living inside Turkish borders crafted themselves a new presence to be able to co-habit peacefully with the perpetrator society.

Both before and after the lecture, NAASR’s bookstore will be open and will feature a one-night only 20 percent off sale, with additional discounts of 40 percent or more on selected titles.  Numerous recently published titles will be available.

Ruth Thomasian, the founder and executive director of Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, will also be on hand with the 2013 calendar “Armenians a Century Ago: In the Homeland and Diaspora.”  The calendar, as always featuring remarkable photographs from Project SAVE’s enormous archival collection, provides a glimpse of the diversity of Armenian life during the pre-genocide years.

The evening’s events will take place at the NAASR Center, 395 Concord Ave. in Belmont. For more information about Ekmekcioglu’s lecture, the NAASR Christmas Open House, or NAASR and its programs, call (617) 489-1610, fax (617) 484-1759, e-mail, or write to NAASR, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478.

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