By Aris Janigian,
|When it comes to crimes against humanity, we must admit, that geopolitics and the great games between empires and their proxies determine who will be rescued, |
who will be prosecuted, who will get to properly bury their dead, whose memory will be safeguarded and whose will be left to forget. This “selective” memorialization is incontrovertible, the Armenian case perhaps being the chief example. Starting in the late 1890s, Ottomans set in motion a series of massacres, culminating in the 1915 genocide that shocked the world. Within decades, the world drifted into either indifference or denial. A bulwark against communism, Turkey was too precious an asset to upset. In the US, one presidential contender after another promised to recognize the genocide. Once they had secured Armenians’ votes and were safely in office, each drifted into muteness or euphemisms to protect America’s relationship to Turkey. Yet last year, on April 24, President Biden finally uttered the purported calamity-causing phrase — The Armenian Genocide — and Turkey and NATO went about its business as usual.All the while, historians like Bedross Der Matossian, Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have been patiently doing their work. The Adana Massacres of 1909, nearly unknown outside of Armenians circles, has been the subject of scant English language research. With The Horrors of Adana: Revolution and Violence in the Early Twentieth Century, Der Matossian, has given us an extraordinary account of this extraordinary period of paranoia, tribalism, and violence. This book, a kind of harrowing sequel to his earlierShattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire, deepens our understanding of the darkest 25 years — 1896 to 1921 — in Armenia’s 2,500-year-old history.Der Matossian also gives us a master study in massacres: the way that history is twisted, how the future is painted as dangerous and uncertain; how central governments turn a blind eye, allowing facts on the ground to be darkly narrated. He shows how all this and more allows a vortex of hate to gather and generate the unthinkable. It was with all this in mind that I came to this interview, conducted with Der Matossian via email over a period of three days.¤
|This article was published on April 23, 2022 in Los Angeles Review of Books. Click here to read the entire interview / conversation that author Aris Janigian had with Bedross Matossian about his latest publication by Stanford University Press titled: The Horrors of Adana – Revolution and Violence in the Early Twentieth Century. https://lareviewofbooks.org/short-takes/where-is-humanity-a-conversation-with-bedross-der-matossian/|
Aris Janigian is the author five novels, and co-author, along with April Greiman, of Something from Nothing, a book on the hilosophy of graphic design. For his first novel, Bloodvine, Janigian was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “strong and welcome new voice,” and over the course or four subsequent novels, he has plumbed the American experience, from the struggle of 1920s immigrants to the neurosis and decadence of contemporary culture. This Angelic Land, set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, was called “today’s necessary book” by critic D. J. Waldie, and Janigian’s Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont, about a screenwriter who goes from riches to rags, spent 17 weeks on the Los Angeles Times best-seller list. In his recently released Waiting for Sophia at Shutters on the Beach, Janigian broaches sexual politics and “rape culture,” one of the most heated issues of our times. Aris Janigian has pursued a three-pronged life and career, as a writer, academic, and following in his father’s footsteps, as a wine grape packer and shipper in Fresno California, where he currently lives. Holding a PhD in psychology, Janigian was Senior Professor of Humanities at Southern California Institute of Architecture, and a contributing writer to West, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine. He was a finalist for Stanford University’s William Saroyan Fiction Prize and the recipient of the Anahid Literary Award from Columbia University.
Bedross Der Matossian is the vice-chair, associate professor of Modern Middle East History, and Hymen Rosenberg Professor in Judaic Studies at the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also the president of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS). Born and raised in Jerusalem, he is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his Ph.D. in Middle East History in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, he was a Lecturer of Middle East History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has been appointed as the Dumanian Visiting Professor in the University of Chicago for Spring 2014. He is the author and co-editor of multiple books including the award-winning book Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire (Stanford University Press, 2014).