Spring 2019, Issue 1

International Journal of Armenian Genocide Studies


Tessa Hofmann
Pages 7-35

This contribution explores the narrations and narrative styles of three Syriac authors and genocide survivors from the Diyarbakır province of the Ottoman Empire: Naaman Abed Qarabashi, Ishāq bar Armalto (Armale) and Henno, comparing them with the Armenian and Greek survivors Rev. Grigoris Balakian (Գրիգորիս Պալագեան, Grigoris Palagean), Yervant Odian (Երուանդ Օտեան – Eruand Ōtean1 ), Elias Venezis and Dido Sotiriou, who all wrote and published memoirs of events they were close to. The three Syriac authors developed an antagonistic narrative shaped by biblical narrative styles, Christian martyrology and their perception of contemporary events as inter-religious war and traditional Jihad. The non-Syriac authors that have been considered here replaced, in various degrees, this approach by internalization. Greek authors from Asia Minor, such as Venezis or Dido argued, in their narrations, against the ethnic or religious ascription of guilt by emphasizing cases of solidarity between Ottoman Turks (Muslims) and Orthodox Greeks. The two Armenian authors examined here represent a middle position between Syriac moral antagonism and the differentiating introspection of Greek authors. In spite of their very different backgrounds and professions as clergyman and secular journalist, both tried to present their testimonials as documentary, unvarnished and “unliterary” as possible.
Is it possible to survive in a system based on violence and terror without the loss of human empathy and dignity? The Syriacs saw this possibility mainly in individual martyrdom. Elias Venezis and Dido Sotiriou, however, named culprits and victims on both sides of the ethno-religious divide and included Muslim rescuers in their narrations. The Armenian authors Yervant Odian and Grigoris Balakian focused their narrations on suffering as such. In the face of their numerous compatriots who had been silenced forever, they cleared their “survival debts” by writing about the unspeakable and witnessing genocidal destruction.

Keywords: survivor’s memoirs, Syriac Christians, Christian minorities, Ottoman Empire, genocide, literary narration, literary narratives.

Nikki Marczak
Pages 37-53

During and after the genocide, Armenian women resisted: silently, discreetly, but sometimes also loudly and overtly; and often in spiritual or cultural ways. A common thread through women’s testimonies is a spirit of defiance – a sense of dignity, resilience and a refusal to allow their identity to be destroyed – that they have passed on to future generations. This article presents the concept of transmitted defiance, a gendered process that occurs transgenerationally. A hundred years after the genocide, women who are descended from survivors often view their relatives’ actions as inspiration for their own lives. Further, many have inherited rebelliousness and an indelible sense of Armenian identity from their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, which manifests in their own contemporary acts of resistance.

Keywords: Armenian Women, Armenian Genocide, resistance, transgenerational trauma, resilience.

Matthias Bjørnlund
Pages 55-79

Based on extensive studies of archival material and little-known contemporary published sources, this article will explore how and why Danes – famous in certain circles like Maria Jacobsen, virtually unknown like Hansine Marcher and Jenny Jensen, but all women – ended up in remote corners of the Ottoman Empire before and during the Armenian Genocide. They were sent out as field workers for one of the world’s first proper NGOs, the Danish branch of the Evangelical organization Women Missionary Workers. What did these women from the European periphery experience, and how were they perceived at home and abroad during peace, war, massacre, and genocide? Why did the Armenians among all the suffering peoples of the world become their destiny, even after the genocide? And how did they try to make sense of it all, from everyday life and work before 1915 to the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians and the immediate aftermath? The article will put the missionary and experiences into an ideological, institutional, local, regional, and international context, and consider to what extent the Danish women could be considered feminist and humanitarian pioneers.
Keywords: Armenian genocide, missionaries, humanitarianism, gender studies, Christian millenarianism, Armenophilia, Middle East, Turkey, Ottoman Empire.

Jeff Stonehouse
Pages 81-95

This paper aims at conceptualizing the physical environment of genocidal violence. Perpetrator organizations are understood to use artificial and natural settings to facilitate the task of mass killing. It is argued that mountains may be relatively distinct from other features of terrain because they offer advantages that strategically favor the defender. If targeted groups use these advantages to meet the goals of first arrival, maintaining biological needs, keeping the enemy at bay and alerting the outside world, they increase their chances of surviving destruction. Three case studies are examined: Musa Dagh (1915), Bisesero (1994) and Sinjar (2014).

Keywords: Musa Dagh, Bisesero, Sinjar, Armenian Genocide, Rwandan Genocide, Yazidi Genocide, mountains, resistance.


Robert Tatoyan
Pages 98-102

Edita Gzoyan
Pages 103-107

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