The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Presents a Lecture by
Dr. Taner Akçam
Forced Assimilation As a Structural Component of the Armenian Genocide
Feb. 3, 2011
395 Concord Avenue
Recent genocide scholarship has rediscovered the vital work of Raphael Lemkin-not only as a legal scholar but also as an historian and social scientist. His unpublished autobiography and work on the history of genocide have given new inspirations and ideas to a new generation of scholars to rethink and reevaluate existing scholarship.
Lemkin wrote: “Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.” Taner Akçam argues that this “the second phase” can take many different forms, but without doubt, assimilation is among the most effective ways to achieve the desired result.
According to Akçam, because similarity to the Holocaust has tended to be the yardstick against which occurrences of mass violence are measured, in the Armenian case some of the most significant structural components of the Armenian Genocide, such as religious conversion or the forced assimilation of Armenian children into Muslim households, have been ignored or deemphasized because they played no role in the annihilation of the Jews in Europe.
Following Lemkin and, more importantly, based on newly-revealed documents from the Ottoman archives, Akçam argues that assimilation in fact was a structural element in the genocidal process and calls for analysis and a reassessment of the methods and motivations of this aspect of the Armenian Genocide.
Taner Akçam is the author of From Empire To Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide and A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility.