FRESNO — Kazan Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies Dr. Ümit Kurt will give his second public lecture on “Proactive Local Perpetrators: Mehmet Yasin (Sani Kutlug) and Ali Cenani” at 7:30PM on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191 on the Fresno State campus.

Dr. Kurt was appointed the 15th Henry S. Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor in Armenian Studies for the Fall 2018 semester.

While there is an extensive body of literature addressing the Armenian Genocide, significant gaps persist. The events and processes of the genocide have been unearthed and examined, but genocide is not a phenomenon set in motion by a force of nature; on the contrary, the systematic destruction of Ottoman Armenians was designed and executed by a cadre of individuals, most of whom are little known today.

In his presentation, Dr. Kurt will recover the stories of two such actors, Mehmet Yasin and Ali Cenani, in a particular town, Aintab, modern-day Gaziantep, and in the surrounding district, where both were actively involved in the destruction of Armenians. In this destruction, they were supported by the citizenry of the town, who—whether or not they approved of the actions these two operatives—did not criticize them and did profit from their activities.

Biographies of a genocide’s local leaders—the simple, objective features of their backgrounds and careers and their relationship with their communities—can illustrate the social processes, institutional cultures, and power relations that undergirded the violence. This lecture hopes to do this by highlighting the human element: the actors, their motives, and their actions, which ultimately bore responsibility for the catastrophic loss of life.

The lecture will focus on the life stories of these two leading players—on their backgrounds, deeds, and involvement in the 1915 Armenian deportation and genocide, as well as their careers in post-genocide Turkey.

Dr. Ümit Kurt received his Ph.D. from the Department of History at Clark University in 2016 and is currently a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Dr. Kurt is the author of several monographs and numerous scholarly articles.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Fresno State Lots P6 and P5, near the University Business Center, Fresno State. A free parking code can be obtained by contacting the Armenian Studies Program.

For more information about the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 278-2669, visit our website at www.fresnostate.edu/armenianstudies or visit our Facebook page at @ArmenianStudiesFresnoState.

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