Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians, 1789-2009
To this day, the Turkish state officially denies that what happened to the Armenians in 1915 was genocide, while the Western scholarly community is almost in full agreement that what happened to the forcefully deported Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was genocide, in which approximately 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians perished. This book studies why denial of collective violence persists in Turkish state and society. To capture the negotiation of meaning, it undertakes a qualitative analysis of 356 contemporaneous memoirs penned by 307 authors in addition to secondary sources, journals, and newspapers. The main theoretical argument is that denial is a multilayered, historical process consisting of the interaction of the structural elements of collective violence and situated modernity with the emotional elements of collective emotions and legitimating events. In this empirical case, denial emerged through four stages: (1) the initial imperial denial of origins of violence commenced in 1789 with the advent of systematic modernity until 1907; (2) the Young Turk denial of the act of violence lasted for a decade from 1908 to 1918; (3) early republican denial of actors of violence took place from 1919 to 1973; and (4) the late republican denial of responsibility for violence started in 1974 and was still present in 2009 when the book was completed.