Fatma Muge Gocek

Denial of Violence

Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians 1789-2009

Oxford University Press 2015

New Books in Central Asian StudiesNew Books in Genocide StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network May 11, 2015 Kelly McFall

Adolf Hitler famously (and probably) said in a speech to his military leaders “Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?”...

Adolf Hitler famously (and probably) said in a speech to his military leaders “Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?” This remark is generally taken to suggest that future generations won’t remember current atrocities, so there’s no reason not to commit them. The implication is that memory has something like an expiration date, that it fades, somewhat inevitably, of its own accord.

At the heart of Fatma Muge Gocek’s book is the claim that forgetting doesn’t just happen. Rather, forgetting (and remembering) happens in a context, with profound political and personal stakes for those involved. And this forgetting has consequences.

Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians 1789-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2015) looks at how this process played out in Turkey in the past 200 years. Gocek looks at both the mechanisms and the logic of forgetting. In doing so she sets the Turkish decisions to reinterpret the Armenian genocide into a longer tale of modernization and collective violence. And she illustrates the complicated ways in which remembering and forgetting collide.

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