Heritage of Violence: Cultural Contestation among Turks and Armenians in the Netherlands
Every year on 24 April, Turks and Armenians around the world clash about the memory of the 1915 genocide in the Ottoman Empire. Whereas Armenians put in the effort to commemorate that genocide through rituals, wakes, and other forms of public memorialization, Turks often organize counter-demonstrations and conduct activism that repudiates the genocide. This historical antagonism has also reached the Netherlands, where in the recent past, two Armenian-Dutch memorials for the genocide were contested by Turkish-Dutch protests: a memorial stone at a public cemetery in Assen, and a private memorial at Almelo’s Armenian Apostolic Church. Both were established by Dutch Armenians, and both were vehemently protested by Dutch Turks.
With this research project Ayşenur Korkmaz focuses on how the legacy of the Armenian genocide permeates contemporary heritage politics in the Netherlands, particularly at the nexus between Turkish and Armenian diasporic communities and the Dutch state. Under which conditions does the heritage of a violent past become contested? Why and how does cultural heritage contestation take the form of material and ritual commemorations and counter-commemorations? Ayşenur Korkmaz argues that the Armenian genocide memorials in Assen and Almelo provide an emotional and moral landscape not only for those who recognize and commemorate the genocide but also for those who deny it and take offense at its commemoration.
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