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Historisches Seminar

Dissertation project by Toros Korkmaz

Discrimination against the Armenian identity in Turkey's recent history

This thesis aims to investigate Armenian-Turkish relations in Turkey between 1975 and 2007 in order to reveal the level of discrimination prevalent at the societal level against Armenian identity by taking into account the role that the state plays in this effort.

It is a fact that the Armenians have been exposed to discrimination at least at the state level since the founding of the Turkish republic which is based on their being both religiously and ethnically different from the majority of the Turkish population and also as a result of the long history of conflict burdening of relations between Armenians and Turks. However, there has been no substantial research conducted to find out to what extent Armenian identity has been discriminated against in particular at the societal level in the last quarter of the twentieth century and the early 2000s.

The selection of the time period (1975-2007) was made because 1975 is the date when the Armenian Secret Army For Liberation (ASALA) was founded. For the subsequent ten years, the ASALA had an enormous effect on the reproduction of hate speech against the Armenian identity in Turkey. And 2007 is the date when the most important public intellectual of the Armenian community of Turkey, Hrant Dink, was assasinated by the “deep state” which marked the beginning of an era that for the first time in the history of Turkey exposed the injustices that the Armenians had suffered in the last hundred years. Since that time the Armenian issue has been discussed among the larger segments of intellectuals and the general public.

For these reasons, the thesis explores the extent of discrimination against the Armenian minority prevalent at the societal level whose roots are considered to be taken from the policies developed towards non-Muslim minorities within the framework of the official state ideology of Turkey. The thesis intends to reveal all of the dimensions of discrimination along with their root causes, and their articulation in the form of political prejudice and discriminatory rhetoric among the Turkish people in their daily lives by taking into account the extent of the role that official state ideology plays on the phenomenon.

This study attempts to make an additional and novel contribution to the literature by focusing particularly on the discrimination against the Armenian identity at the societal level. It should be noted that almost all of the academic literature about discrimination against Armenians has related to the events of 1915. In this study, the emphasis shall be placed upon the Turkish society by taking into consideration that the state apparatus plays in the process of incessantly constituting discriminatory rhetoric against Armenians while reproducing a Turkish national identity in Turkey. My thesis will look at the myriad ways in which construction of the Armenians is connected to the development of a Turkish national identity.

The methodology of the thesis comprises both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. As regards the qualitative collection of data, there shall be an in-depth interview conducted with people who have Turkish backgrounds among particular residential areas and the textual analysis of pertinent law and policies addressed to Armenians and the relevant literature, such as books, journals and newspaper articles will be scrutinized to elicit data for this research. And the quantitative data collection shall be the interpretation of the numerical data mostly available in official statistics.

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