USF ponders the politics of the Armenian Genocide

11/07/11 Atecia Robinson
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When a country deals with a dark chapter in its past, like genocide, there are questions about reparations for people directly and indirectly affected. At the USF Library, Taner Akcam gave the keynote speech in a symposium hosted by USF libraries Holocaust and Genocide center on the denial of the Armenian Genocide and the Turkish national security policy of Turkey.

Akcam is a professor of Armenian genocide studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He said Turkey is just trying to protect its image instead of taking responsibility for the killing and forced deportation of the Armenian people.

The Armenian Genocide occurred from 1915 to 1923; about half a million Armenians were killed. Allied powers wanted to partition the remaining Ottoman Empire between different ethnic groups. Akcam said the Turks did a few things to tackle their wartime issues.

Akcam said many countries such as Israel still do not call the event by its rightful name, “genocide.”

Steven Roach, an associate professor of international politics at the University of South Florida raised the question of transitional justice. He said Turkey owed the Armenians apologies as individuals and as a nation-state.

Questions were raised about why the United States has not moderated Turkey’s behavior during the and after the genocide. Edward Kissi, an associate professor of African Studies at USF said the U.S. may not be able to go very far in telling Turkey to face its past.

Kissi said there was one question he wished there was more time during the symposium to discuss.

For more information about the Armenian Genocide visit

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