[Forum München] Ronald G. Suny (Ann Arbor, MI): "'They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else': Explaining the Armenian Genocide One Hundred Years Later"

01.08.2016 (18:15 - 19:45)

Within the Graduate School's lecture series "Forum" on August 1, 2016 in Munich the renowned scholar of Russian, Armenian, and Caucasian history Prof. Ronald G. Suny, Ph.D. (Ann Arbor, MI) will give a public lecture entitled "'They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else': Explaining the Armenian Genocide One Hundred Years Later".

Professor Suny in July and August 2016 is Visiting Research Fellow of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies in Munich and Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago. He has been teaching as the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan and as Senior Reseacher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg. Suny’s fields of study are Soviet, Russian, Armenian and Caucasian history, nationalism, ethnic conflict and genocide.

Abstract of the Lecture

The question of the Armenian Genocide continues to confuse the public and exacerbate tensions and conflicts between Armenia and Turkey, Armenians and Turks. Turkey is a country facing difficult problems at the moment, most importantly the detours on its road toward greater democracy and its failure to deal constructively with the question of the Kurds. The Turkish government’s campaign to deny that a genocide took place in 1915, or to blame Armenians for their own destruction, is part of a larger effort on the part of the Turkish state and Turkish nationalists to deny the troubled history of the foundation of the Kemalist republic. That denial is connected to the government’s inability to face squarely the problem of non-Turks, and particularly non-Muslims, within the current population. The central question of this talk is "Why Genocide?" There is a tendency on the part of some scholars — particularly Armenians — not to try to explain the genocide or to see it simply as the result of religion, nationalism, the nature of Turkish culture, Ottoman society, or the state. All of these are the questions to be asked, not the answers. Suny attempts to explain this genocide through a concept he calls “affective disposition” - that is, an emotional understanding of who the enemy was. The Young Turks and others constructed the Armenians as an existential threat to the Ottoman Empire and to the Turkish nation, what they conceived as the Turkish nation at that time. Armenians originally had been thought of as a loyal part of the empire, but by the late 19th century the Armenians became an instrument of certain foreign powers to intervene in the Ottoman regime and internal policy — the Ottomans began to see them as a threat.


The lecture is part of the Graduate School's lecture series "Forum" and is open to the public; please register via email.

Time: Monday, 01.08.2016, 6 - 8 p.m. c.t.

Location: Munich, LMU Main Building, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, Lecture Theater A 016

The the lecture will be video recorded and photographed for our Video-Podcast series and public relation activities. If you choose to participate, you are presumed to consent to the use of your image in these recordings. If you do not wish to be recorded, please contact our staff.

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