Professor Peter Balakian will deliver a talk titled, “Terror and Taboo: Going to Turkey,” on Wednesday evening, September 25, 2013 at Columbia University’s Faculty House.
Hosted by the University Seminar on Cultural Memory, Professor Balakian, who is the Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University and the Visiting Ordjanian Professor of Armenian Studies at Columbia University, will discuss the complications and difficulties of returning to the place of his father’s birth and his family origin, Istanbul, which was Constantinople when his family left as refugees of the Armenian Genocide in 1922.
“In my family, the Armenian past in Turkey was a fraught and repressed issue,” said Balakian, the author of Black Dog of Fate and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response. “The word Turkey evoked a haunted place. How does one approach this lost place with this weight of history?”
In the decades following the Armenian Genocide, where 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish government has actively pursued a worldwide campaign to deny the massacres of 1915. As a poet, memoirist and scholar, Balakian’s work has immersed him into the history of the genocide and its aftermath.
“Peter Balakian is one of the foremost writers on the memory and transmission of the Armenian genocide to younger generations,” said Marianne Hirsch, co-director of the University Seminar on Cultural Memory, which hosts discussions of return and discovery of memory on sites of past atrocity. “We are eager to hear how his first visit to Turkey and his confrontation with the history of his ancestors has inflected his inherited memories of the Armenian Genocide.”
Professor Balakian’s talk, “Terror and Taboo: Going to Turkey,” will take place on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 from 6 pm -9 pm at the Faculty House, located at 64 Morningside Drive in New York. This event is free and open to the public.