Author: Fatma Ulgen
Source: Patterns of Prejudice; Sep. 2010, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p369-391, 23p
Keywords supplied by the author:Armenian genocide, Armenians, Ataturk, genocide, modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Nutuk, Turkish denial
Abstract from the author: The debate on where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and universally known as the 'Father of the Turks', stood in regard to the colossal violence committed against Armenians during the First World War has become a fiercely contested part of the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process, especially within the past few years. Ulgen aims to clear away the clouds of dust surrounding Kemal by delving into his texts and examining his role in the reification of Turkish denial of the destruction of Ottoman Armenians.
Based on a textual analysis of his entire corpus, including Nutuk?the Great Speech of 1927 and the master-narrative of modern Turkish history and national identity?her article examines and documents how his charismatic leadership helped to consolidate both the myth of 'murderous Armenians' and that of the Turks as an 'oppressed nation' (mazlum millet), monumentalizing both in official Turkish historiography.
Ulgen argues that Kemal's portrayal of Armenians and the Armenian Question was generally consistent across the years and in various political documents, as well as being consistent with contemporary Turkish representations of the events of 1915. What really tips the balance towards Turkish innocence in Kemal's representation of the conflict is not his framing of the issue per se but the stark difference in the rhetoric he deploys in depicting Armenian and Turkish atrocities and, hence, Armenians and Turks. The undeniable authority of this discursive regime is central to the resilience of Turkish denial today.