A Sincere Refusal to Testimony

MAR 21, 2014 | 6:30 PM TO 8:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 21, 2014: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM





MEMEAC co-sponsor: Ph.D. Program in Anthropology


The extermination of the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constitutes the first humanitarian crisis of modern world history. What characterizes the Armenian case when compared to more recent humanitarian disasters? Social scientists have observed that the witness of humanitarian tragedies has become a key political figure of our times. Dr. Ozgul asks: Who bears witness to the Armenian genocide today and in what capacity? In recent decades, Muslims citizens of Turkey (whose ancestors converted to Islam around 1915, aka Islamized Armenians) have been baptized into the Armenian Apostolic Church. In their accounts, Armenian return converts articulate their conversion as a sincere self-discovery of their ethnic and religious roots. Dr. Ozgul analyzes how this emphasis on sincerity and self-discovery is employed by the return converts to reject a framing of their (re)appearance as Armenians bearing witness to the Armenian genocide.

Ceren Ozgul received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the Graduate Center, CUNY, in May 2013. Her dissertation, “From Muslim Citizen to Christian Minority: Tolerance, Secularism, and Armenian Return Conversions in Turkey,” analyzes the return conversions of forcibly Islamized Armenians in modern Turkey back to Armenian Christianity. The dissertation also presents a framework for examining how religious minorities, political agency, legal responsibility, and conditions of belief are produced through the legal and cultural codification of religious tolerance in Turkey. Her research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Andrew Silk Dissertation Award. Currently, Dr. Ozgul is the 2013-14 Manoogian Simone Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Discussant: (To be determined soon)