Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide, The
Language, History and "Medz Yeghern"

(ISBN: 978-0-7556-4108-6)
2022 London
279 pages
Size: 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
Language(s): English

This book explores the genealogy of the concept of 'Medz Yeghern' ('Great Crime'), the Armenian term for the mass murder and ethnic cleansing of the Armenian ethno-religious group in the Ottoman Empire between the years 1915-1923. Widely accepted by historians as one of the classical cases of genocide in the 20th century, ascribing the right definition to the crime has been a source of contention and controversy in international politics. Vartan Matiossian here draws upon extensive research based on Armenian sources, neglected in much of the current historiography, as well as other European languages in order to trace the development of the concepts pertaining to mass killing and genocide of Armenians from the ancient to the modern periods. Beginning with an analysis of the term itself, he shows how the politics of its use evolved as Armenians struggled for international recognition of the crime after 1945, in the face of Turkish protest. Taking a combined historical, philological, literary and political perspective, the book is an insightful exploration of the politics of naming a catastrophic historical event, and the competitive nature of national collective memories.

Table of Contents

Introduction Silencing the Name

Part I Language and History
Chapter 1 Yeghern until the Late Nineteenth Century
Chapter 2 Yeghern before and after 1915
Chapter 3 Medz Yeghern and “Genocide” in Armenia and the Diaspora

Part II Politics and Language
Chapter 4 Vatican: “From the Depths of the Metz Yeghérn”
Chapter 5 Turkey: “The Denial of the Great Catastrophe”
Chapter 6 United States: “Genocide of the Armenians” and “Meds Yeghern”
Chapter 7 From Uruguay to the United States: On Words of Recognition

Conclusion Unsilencing the Name

Appendix A The Meaning of Yeghern in Scholarship
Appendix B Yeghern and “Genocide” in Memorial Inscriptions

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