LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
This past year has made us face challenges that most of us, as scholars, have never before had to face. Like many institutions, INoGS has not remained untouched, as we have sadly lost members of our community to COVID-19. Our thoughts are with all the families and loved ones who have felt that loss most closely during this challenging time. In a much smaller way, we all experienced the challenge of moving our recent 2020 International Conference on Genocide online. However, one of the clearest outcomes of that conference is the dedication of this community and the continued desire to engage with each other’s research. Hence, these past few months have given the INoGS Executive Board a chance to consider ways in which we might continue to support that engagement. This newsletter is the first of several that will find its way to your inbox through 2021. Each newsletter will highlight an interview with one of our members, recent publications in the field, research opportunities including employment and funding openings, and a letter highlighting insights and updates from the Executive Board.
This quarter, I wanted to reflect on one of the most exciting outcomes of the 2020 conference. Many of you will remember that, for the first time, we hosted a number of digital blog posts and research posters from emerging undergraduate and postgraduate scholars in genocide studies. We were excited to see the engagement they generated during the conference. However, no one expected the kind of response they generated after the conference. Indeed, since the conference ended the first weekend of October 2020, we have had almost 700 downloads of these five pieces of scholarship alone! Equally, the conversation has continued well beyond the conference, as you can see from reading through the commentary. If you have not yet had a chance to read through the exciting topics these young scholars are researching, I strongly encourage you to go back to the conference website and have a further look (https://commons.erau.edu/genocide-conference/). We look forward to continuing these opportunities for emerging scholars within the INoGS community in our upcoming 2022 conference in Mexico City. Further information on that conference will be coming soon, but for now we can all look forward to seeing each other, hopefully in person, there.
Finally, I want to thank you for your continued research and writing efforts during this incredibly difficult year. It has been truly moving to witness your work highlighting the tragedies of ongoing genocides and atrocities during a time when the eyes of the world are focusing elsewhere, particularly when access to fieldwork and archives are increasingly limited. Our deepest thanks go out to those members who have worked to maintain and increase access to online archives and other sources of information to help support those whose research depends on your endeavors.
Dr. Elisabeth Hope Murray
This month we are pleased to recognize Dr. Elisabeth Anstett for the INoGS member spotlight. Dr. Elisabeth Anstett is a social anthropologist, senior tenured researcher at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and member of Adès (Anthropologie bio-culturelle, Droit, Ethique et Santé), an interdisciplinary research unit at the Faculty of Medical and Paramedical Sciences of Aix-Marseille University. Her research focuses on dead bodies and human remains management and care in genocide, mass violence and crisis contexts. She is co-editing the ‘Human Remains and Violence’ book series and interdisciplinary academic journal at Manchester University Press.
Interviewee: Dr. Elisabeth Anstett
Interviewer: Allen Schocken
Date: Friday, March 19, 2021
Attendees: AS = Allen Schocken (interviewer)
EA = Dr. Elisabeth Anstett (interviewee)
AS: Why did you become a scholar of genocide and mass atrocity, and how did that come about?
EA: Well …it has never really been my intention to become a genocide scholar. I am a social anthropologist, and I did my Ph.D. on kinship ties. I was working in Russia… in the provincial town that was one of the headquarters of the Gulag, and I was not working on the Gulag at all. Actually, I was working on the way kinship ties had been transformed by the Soviet period, so it was really remote from the issue of the Gulag. … One day, we were walking along a lakeshore with a Russian historian [colleague] of mine, and I stepped on bones. It was a lake that had been built by Gulag convicts. And, I didn’t realize immediately what these bones were. I thought that they were many pieces of wood. And I said, “Oh, it’s hard to cross these pieces of wood.” My Russian colleague [who] was walking behind me just [said], “This is not wood.” And that’s all, that’s it. And actually, everybody knew, he knew, everybody knew, but it was not an issue worth mentioning or discussing. …This moment was like a punch in the stomach.
How is it possible that a society, a whole society, lives in a quiet denial or disinterest of this kind of past? It was really a turning point in my work. And I kept on studying this little town, this society, but I put my focus on the issue of mass violence legacy. … How can you just cross someone’s grave and do as if nothing has happened? So, that was a really bizarre moment, but then I started to read [about] the history of the Gulag, and I understood that very little work had been done at that time, but it was understandable because the Soviet Union had been closed for study and travel until the mid-90s. So, the issue of the Gulag legacy had not really been studied as such. So, I started to work on this, and still, to some extent, I’m still working on it now.
AS: Well, I can only imagine going through something like that and actually have something physical completely change your direction. That’s amazing.
EA: Definitely, and then you start to look at the reality around you completely differently, and then you start to ask yourself, “Okay, are they just lying or pretending that they do not know? Or, maybe they know but don’t want to remember?” So, you have a lot of issues around memory and denial and things like that. So, I think it’s really an interesting issue to study in many countries and many sites concerned [with] genocide and mass graves. How can you live with it? How can you live being the neighbor of it? So yeah, it was a kind of reality check. So, it was also a kind of a pin [poking gesture] for me as a scholar to drop the kinship and start to work on more important topics…
For the full interview, please visit: https://inogs.com/member-spotlight/
Metaphysical Hatred and Sacred Genocide: The Questionable Role of Amalek in Biblical Literature -Gili Kugler
Amalek is traditionally perceived as Israel’s arch-enemy and rival. In the Hebrew Bible, divine laws command the annihilation of the Amalekites, and war narratives recount their execution. What is the basis for this uncompromising judgment against Amalek? What does it reveal about the national ethos, as well as about the realpolitik of the ancient peoples, the Israelites, and Amalekites? To this day, commentators on the Hebrew Bible have endeavored to explain and justify the tradition about the destiny of Amalek, or to deny and oppose it, thus reflecting their perplexity with the tradition. This article will employ historical-literary (diachronic) tools to shed further light upon the background, circumstances, and drives that formed the merciless tradition about the genocide of the Amalekites.
THE ARMENIANS OF AINTAB
The Economics of Genocide in an Ottoman Province
Publication date: April 13, 2021
A Turk’s discovery that Armenians once thrived in his hometown leads to a groundbreaking investigation into the local dynamics of genocide.
Ümit Kurt, born and raised in Gaziantep, Turkey, was astonished to learn that his hometown once had a large and active Armenian community. The Armenian presence in Aintab, the city’s name during the Ottoman period, had not only been destroyed—it had been replaced. To every appearance, Gaziantep was a typical Turkish city.
Kurt digs into the details of the Armenian dispossession that produced the homogeneously Turkish city in which he grew up. In particular, he examines the population that gained from ethnic cleansing. Records of land confiscation and population transfer demonstrate just how much new wealth became available when the prosperous Armenians—who were active in manufacturing, agricultural production, and trade—were ejected. Although the official rationale for the removal of the Armenians was that the group posed a threat of rebellion, Kurt shows that the prospect of material gain was a key motivator of support for the Armenian genocide among the local Muslim gentry and the Turkish public. Those who benefited most—provincial elites, wealthy landowners, state officials, and merchants who accumulated Armenian capital—in turn financed the nationalist movement that brought the modern Turkish republic into being. The economic elite of Aintab was thus reconstituted along both ethnic and political lines.
The Armenians of Aintab draws on primary sources from Armenian, Ottoman, Turkish, British, and French archives, as well as memoirs, personal papers, oral accounts, and newly discovered property-liquidation records. Together they provide an invaluable account of genocide at ground level.
CURRENT EVENTS IN MASS ATROCITIES
As the field of genocide studies has grown and diversified in the 21st century, the impact of digital technology has taken on increasing importance.
From the digitalization of archives that document genocide atrocities to the use of this technology in the capture and prosecution of perpetrators, the landscape of interdisciplinary genocide studies and genocide prevention is rapidly changing.
At the same time, the rise of social media and the world wide web has facilitated the propagation of hate and dissemination of genocidal and related ideologies.
Resolve. Resilience. Hope. At this difficult time for our nation, Museum supporters across Ohio will come together for a virtual tribute event.
Join us for a moving experience with special guests who will discuss the consequences of antisemitism and unchecked hate. You will hear inspiring stories and important messages about the Museum’s critical role during these challenging times. Together, we will reaffirm our pledge to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust shape the way forward.
If you are interested in either being interviewed or having your recent publications included in a future newsletter, please contact our Vice-President, Dr. Elisabeth Anstett, at email@example.com with your information or if you have any questions. Equally, we have been working hard to broaden our reach beyond the English-speaking community of scholars, as you will have seen if you follow us on social media; please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have something you think may be of interest and would like to see either included here or on our social media pages.