Lecture on Armenian Genocide

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Taner Akcam, scholar of the Armenian Genocide

Taner Akcam, scholar of the Armenian Genocide

One of the first Turkish intellectuals to publicly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide will give a public lecture 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Miller Center Auditorium at St. Cloud State University.

Taner Akcam, a visiting professor of history at the University of Minnesota, is the author of “A Shameful Act: Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility.” Akcam is the target of death threats and the focus of a Web site that denies the deaths of more than a million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk calls Akcam’s work “the definitive account of the organized destruction of the Ottoman Armenians” by “a brave Turkish scholar.”

The U.S. of House of Representatives is considering a resolution that formally labels the events of 1915-17 genocide. The Bush Administration does not want the resolution to come to a vote, fearing it would harm relations with Turkey, a key ally in the war in Iraq and a member of NATO. Turkey’s official policy is to deny the deaths were genocidal.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew and scholar of international law, coined the term partly in response to the Armenian tragedy.

Akcam has authored several works on Turkish-Armenian relations, including 2004’s “From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide” and 2001’s “Dialogue across an International Divide: Essays Towards a Turkish-Armenian Dialogue.”

Akcam has been the subject of a criminal investigation in Turkey for, among other things, allegedly violating Article 301.1 of the penal code, which deals with “denigrating Turkishness,” according to Eric Weitz and Stephen Feinstein of the University of Minnesota. Weitz is a professor and chair of the History Department. Feinstein directs the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The lecture also will cover contemporary politics in the Middle East. The event is sponsored by St. Cloud State’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.

- Jeff Wood

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