Book Review: Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present and Collective Violence against the Armenians, 1789-2009

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Monumental—I use this word positively to describe the 656 page (478 pages of text) tome produced by Fatma Müge Göçek. Her account is part of a wider shift in the field of Armenian Genocide studies: from using archives to prove that the term genocide is appropriate in this context, towards more theoretically informed approaches that deal with the experiences, responses, and the aftermath. It is important to note from the outset that Göçek’s Denial of Violence takes an innovative sociological-historical approach, as opposed to an archive-driven, political science, or even a sociological-political approach. Furthermore, although she is not the first Turkish scholar to openly write about the Armenian Genocide (Taner Akçam, Ayhan Aktar, Uğur Ümit Üngör and others), unlike the others, she infuses throughout the book a personal dimension, which is essentially her own encounter with the mass violence that looms large in the Turkish past. Göçek goes beyond exploring the fate of the Armenians and the issue of Turkish denial by addressing a more general question of why collective violence seems endemic and normal to the Turkish state and its society across generations. She argues that the act of violence against the Armenians during the Great War was an act of ‘foundational violence’ and therefore it has been justified by the Turkish state and accepted as normal by the Turkish people.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationGenocide Studies and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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  • the Great War
  • Armenian Genocide
  • Turkey


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