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Politicizing history and legislating reality : history, memory, and identity as explanations for Armenian claims of genocide / by Brendon J. Cannon.

Publication | Library Call Number: DS195.5 .C36 2009

This dissertation examines and defines Armenian Diaspora identities in relationship to and reliance on the deportations and mutual massacres of 1915. By examining these painful events, I clarify the key role this trauma continues to play on Armenian Diaspora communities' identity and their campaign to gain recognition of these events as genocide. Though this campaign for genocide recognition has been lauded for its numerous successes, this dissertation argues that the campaign is deeply flawed in its historical depiction of events and in its willful ignorance of accepted Genocide definitions and laws. Furthermore, the campaign has resulted in an aggressive Turkish counter-campaign accompanied by renewed scholarly interest in the matter. This has led some to question the veracity of Armenian claims that this tragedy constituted genocide.This dissertation delves into events that proved harbingers of the tragedy encapsulated in the year 1915. Indeed, the dissertation demonstrates that this tragedy and the development of a distinctive Armenian Diaspora identity and campaign are only understood when posited against this complicated historical record. As a research strategy, I employ both quantitative and qualitative data and utilize multiple case studies of genocide and Diaspora identity. Data have been collected from archives, historical sources, interviews, and legal and definitional works regarding genocide.This dissertation challenges much of the existing literature on two key points: (1) that Armenian identity is primordial and naturally cohesive; and (2) that the events of 1915, when posited against a historical and legal framework, constituted genocide. To date, no major study has demonstrated the centrality of the events of 1915 to the development of Armenian identity and the subsequent Armenian Diaspora genocide campaign. Indeed, it is argued that it is only the chosen trauma of 1915 that unites the otherwise territorially, linguistically, and religiously diverse Armenian Diaspora communities together. New ground is broken as this dissertation attempts to grapple with the tragedy of 1915 in a constructive and historically and legally nuanced manner, while allowing that more research and discussion are required before all parties involved fully come to terms with this fatal catastrophe that touched the lives of millions.

Cannon, Brendon J.
Record last modified: 2020-11-16 18:09:00
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