Projects and Studies

CURRENT PROJECTS

ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

In the next few months the Gomidas Institute will be sharing a series of draft maps online for comment. The focus will be on Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire. These maps will then be developed for more integrated online and print editions.

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MEMO: COMMEMORATING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IN TURKEY: BITLIS, MUTKI, AND DIYARBAKIR, 18-24 APRIL 2015

This commemorative trip was organised by the Gomidas Institute on the occasion of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The trip attracted many students and professionals from across the globe. The core programme (below) also included a number of side-trips to  Armenian and Assyrian churches and monasteries between Bitlis and Diyarbakir. The programme attracted good local and international press coverage. The Gomidas Institute thanks its partners in Bitlis, Mutki and Diyarbakir for making this trip a success.

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V. T. Mayewski and the Ottoman Provinces of Van and Bitlis

Mayewski was the Russian consul in Van (Ottoman Empire) cir. 1899, where undertook a major study of Van and Bitlis regions for military purposes. The information he collected covered cartography, ethnography and statistics, as well as political and military assessments of these regions. Mayewski's work was published as a confidential study for the Russian army. When the Ottoman military obtained a copy, they had it translated and printed in Ottoman Turkish. Our own study focuses on Mayewski's ethnographic and statistical analyses, as part of a broader critical debate concerning the demographic profile of the late Ottoman Empire. The first part of this project was completed in 2013 and some of this data was used for the exhibition "Remembering the Armenians of Bitlis."

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Aghtamar Island and the Destruction of Armenian Cultural Properties in Turkey.

This project was initiated in 2007, following the Turkish government's announcement that it would be renovating Sourp Khach (Holy Cross) church on the island of Aghtamar in Lake Van. Our purpose was to evaluate the condition of other Armenian medieval monuments within 40 kilometers of Aghtamar, with a view of promoting their preservation, if not restoration, in years to come. However, it became clear that the main purpose of the reconstruction of Holy Cross was probably political: it allowed Turkish authorities to claim that they took care of Armenian antiquities in Turkey when in fact most of it had already been destroyed, and some of it was actually in the final stages of destruction.

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ONGOING PROJECTS

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DOCUMENTATION PROJECT

This project is an expanding archival project which presents key primary documents on the 1915 destruction of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. The project currently focuses on United States records because:
    (a) the United States was a neutral power for most of World War I (until April 1917). Consequently many of its nationals were in Ottoman Turkey in 1915, and they witnessed and recorded the treatment of Armenians;
    (b) starting in October 1915, the United States government played a critical role in releasing information about the plight of Armenians. The United States had an ongoing humanitarian interest in the Armenian issue;
    (c) the records released by the United States government informed the world about the plight of Armenians and provided the documentary basis for the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16, the first systematic thesis on the Armenian Genocide;
    (d) today the official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide denies the integrity, if not the existence, of United States records on the genocide of Armenians, as well as the integrity of the 1916 Blue Book. Consequently, the present documentary collection has great significance to current debates about the Armenian Genocide.

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COMPLETED PROJECTS

Armine, Sister

The Gomidas Institute (London) is working with Teatr Zar (Grotowski Institute, Wroslaw),  a leading theatre group, which is developing a special performance related to the memory of the Armenian Genocide. The performance, "Armine, Sister" has been highly acclaimed in Poland - where it has been presented with a series of complimentary lectures, exhibitions and concerts - and it now enjoys the support of the Polish Ministry of Culture. The first performance of "Armine, Sister" outside Poland will take place at the Battersea Arts Centre in London on October 3rd and it will continue for two weeks.

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A New Bridge Building Initiative

Remembering the Armenians of Bitlis - Bitlis Ermenileri

This was an exhibition the Gomidas Institute put together as part of a Building Bridges Initiative in June 2013. It aimed at directly engaging Turkish civil society activists and beginning meaningful relations with them regarding Armenian issues. The response from Bitlis was positive and received support in diaspora-Armenian circles, including the Armenians Studies Programme (CSU Fresno). The project is now well underway.

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Kharpert 1915: A Proposal to Turkish Colleagues for a Case Study on the Armenian Genocide

This project was a proposal to Turkish historians to focus on a single case study of the Armenian Genocide. The proposal was made by the Gomidas Institute and applauded by large sections of the Turkish press. Although the head of the Turkish Historical Society, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, agreed to work on such a project when asked by Turkish journalists, he soon pulled out, stating that the relevant Ottoman records that were supposed to exist in Turkish archives today did not actually exist. This was a bizarre statement that brought the proposed project to an end. The veteran Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand stated that Halaçoğlu had scored an own goal.

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