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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Diversity and Social Conflict

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Sozialwissen­schaften | Diversity and Social Conflict | Events | Memory in Motion: Social Conflict and Politics of Memory

Memory in Motion: Social Conflict and Politics of Memory

Research colloquium at the Department of Social Sciences (SoSe 2018). Organized by Öndercan Muti, PhD Student, and Gökçe Yurdakul, Professor of Diversity and Social Conflict.
  • Memory in Motion: Social Conflict and Politics of Memory
  • 2018-06-15T12:00:00+02:00
  • 2018-06-15T14:00:00+02:00
  • Research colloquium at the Department of Social Sciences (SoSe 2018). Organized by Öndercan Muti, PhD Student, and Gökçe Yurdakul, Professor of Diversity and Social Conflict.
Wann 15.06.2018 von 12:00 bis 14:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200) iCal
Wo ISW Room 205
Kontaktname

Dear colleagues and friends,


We are delighted to invite you to the next meeting of the research colloquium ‘Memory in Motion: Social Conflict and Politics of Memory’ at the Department of Diversity and Social Conflict: Ayşenur Korkmaz, University Of Amsterdam, will speak on 'The Hamidian Massacres: Gendered Violence, Biopolitics, and National Honor’, on Friday, June 15th. And Nazan Maksudyan, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin), will discuss Korkmaz's paper, followed by participants’ discussion.

 

This talk is the scope of sexual violence directed against Armenian women during the Hamidian massacres of 1894–96 in Ottoman Anatolia. Ottoman archival documents evince a variety of sexual assault incidents, encompassing different assailant groups and forms of sexual abuse perpetrated against Armenian women. How can we explain these patterns of gender-based violence against Armenian women in an ethno-religious conflict setting that preceded the Armenian genocide? Sexual violence is a social and structural problem in the late Ottoman period that concerns the Hamidian state’s biopolitics of gender, the impunity granted to sexual assailants, and the patriarchal honor culture in Ottoman society. My argument is three-fold. First, I assert that the biopolitics of the Hamidian government (1878-1908) turned Armenian women’s bodies into battlefields between Muslim and Christian communities. By blurring the lines between consensual and forced marriage through the policies of religious conversion, the government exerted control over Armenian women’s bodies, sexuality, and marital behavior. Forced marital conversions underpinned the violence in Anatolia, and ultimately assisted the growth of the Muslim population. In making this argument, I build upon Michel Foucault's theorization of biopolitics to contextualize sexual violence in the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire. Second, I argue that the Hamidian government granted impunity to some perpetrators of sexual assault, especially the Kurdish aghas (tribe leaders) who enjoyed access to powerful positions in the Ottoman bureaucracy. The lawlessness and impunity encouraged them to commit sexual offense without fear. The trial of Musa Bey in 1889 was a case in point. In other cases, everyday criminal activities of the Kurdish outlaws, such as murder, burglary or pillage, overlapped with their perpetration of sexual assault against Armenian women. My third argument is that the patriarchal culture of honor in Ottoman communities made Armenian women vulnerable to sexual violence. As the chastity of women was attributed to the Armenian nation’s purity, perpetrators of violence targeted women.

Ayşenur Korkmaz is a PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam, European Studies. She worked on the Islamized Armenians of Diyarbakir and Sasun in 2015 during her Master’s degree at Central European University, Nationalism Studies. After her MA, she thought modern world history courses for freshmen students at Sabancı University, History Department in Istanbul. Her current doctoral research at the University of Amsterdam is on the local history of Sasun during and in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey and Armenia.