FRESNO — Armenian Studies Program Coordinator Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian announced Dr. Yektan Türkyilmaz has been appointed the 14th Henry S. Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies at Fresno State for the Spring 2018 semester. The Kazan Visiting Professorship was established through a generous endowment established by Henry S. Kazan. Dr. Richard Hovannisian was appointed as the first incumbent to the position in Fall of 2000.

Dr. Türkyilmaz’s area of interest is in the interplay between the political and historical processes in producing cultural meaning and collective identities. His research addresses collective violence, social movements, trauma, and the politics of historical memory in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire.

Dr. Türkyilmaz will be teaching a three-unit course in the Spring Semester, “A Social, Cultural, and Political History of Armenian Urbanism.” This course will survey the social, political, and cultural dynamics throughout the Armenian Renaissance—1863-1918, exploring urban life in the three Armenian centers of modernization: Van, Tiflis, and Constantinople. The seminar will elaborate on various intellectual trends and influences in these three centers involving two empires. This course gives a comparative and multi-disciplinary perspective on the trajectory of Armenian modernization and its intellectual and cultural consequences.

The course aims to offer students an assessment of the Ottoman Armenian communities on the eve of the catastrophe, providing them with a solid and critical understanding of the antecedents of the Genocide.

Dr. Türkyilmaz completed his doctoral dissertation on “Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1915” at Duke University in 2011. The dissertation is a study of the essential role of discourses of victimhood in fueling ethnic conflict, and even, genocide. At the intersection of anthropology, political science and history, the project sheds new light on the always contentious and sometimes violent ethno-territorial struggles among Turks, Kurds and Armenians over the region of Eastern Anatolia dating back to the mid-19th century.

Drawing on three years of multi-sited archival, library and ethnographic research, he traced the historical trajectory of the conflict, and how competing conceptions of victimhood have emerged and circulated in the decades before the Armenian Genocide.

As part of his duties, Dr. Türkyilmaz will give three public lectures:
1) “Armenian Political Organizations/Community Institutions and the Ottoman State During the Second Constitutional Period (1908-1915)”;
2) Armenians on Records: Music Production from Homeland to Diasporas (1900-1938)”; and
3) “Collective Anxiety and Competition from Justice: The Mysterious Murder Case of Melkon Mir-Sakoyan in Van, September 1913.”

The first lecture will address the radical shift of political hierarchy within the Armenian community of Van, and will demonstrate how a new matrix of power relations emerged vis-à-vis Armenian organizations’ respective connections with the Committee of Union and Progress, undermining the status of the Armenian Patriarchate.

Lecture two will explore the production of Armenian 78 RPM recordings in the Ottoman Empire (1900-1922), as compared with those produced in the United States.

His talk will address how the Genocide in the homeland and other political upheavals resonated in the records released in the diaspora.

Hunchakian party activist dentist Melkon Mir-Sakoyan was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 1913. Lecture three will focus on the background of that murder, with information drawn from official Ottoman documents, Armenian newspapers, and memoirs.

Dr. Türkyilmaz has completed post-doctoral research fellowships at Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, Germany, and at Duke University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology.

Dr. Türkyilmaz has conducted his dissertation fieldwork in Turkey, Armenia, the United States, and Austria and has taught courses at Bilgi University, Sabanci University, and Duke University among others.

He is fluent in Turkish, English, Armenian, Kurdish, and Ottoman Turkish.

  1. This is all very nice, but I am wondering if there was an Armenian academician who could have filled this position.

  2. It is scandalous that Armenian Studies Chairs created with the hard work and meager resources of Armenian Genocide survivors are empowering “progressive” Turkish scholars instead of qualified fellow Armenians, especially when the Genocide remains unaddressed and there are many more academic opportunities and scholarships available for Turkish citizens in prestigious universities in the West.

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