A Scholarly Workshop in Istanbul Focuses on Adana Massacres of 1909

A Scholarly Workshop in Istanbul Focuses on Adana Massacres of 1909 13 November 2009
A capacity audience filled the lecture hall and included professors, students, journalists, and members of the public. There was simultaneous interpretation between English and Turkish. The papers presented at the workshop will be published in English and Turkish editions.

In opening remarks, Cengiz Aktar and Ara Sarafian welcomed the participants.

The first paper was an unlikely one, a discussion of Turks who saved Armenians in 1909. The fact that Armenian were massacred was a given, and the speaker simply examined the presence of righteous Turkish officials who saved Armenians. In fact, he used Ottoman records to show how Ottoman Armenians petitioned the state to recognize one such Turk for his role in saving an entire community. This first paper took some of the sting out of the workshop, where the audience could sympathize with the Armenian victims of 1909 without vilifying "Muslims" or "Turks" as a single category. Subsequent papers followed with the same sensitivity.

Looking at factors that may have led to the massacres, one scholar identified the presence of tens of thousands of impoverished migrant workers who could not find work in Adana in April 1909.

Two presentations focused on Armenian sources. Others looked at the role and testimony of American missionaries.

Scholars discussed the plunder of Armenian properties and the ways in which Armenian properties were broken up and parcelled out to Muslim refugees and settlers mainly from the Balkans. Other presentations looked at the fate of orphans and literary reactions to the massacres.

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