IB Tauris publishes Dr Vartan Matiossian’s new book, The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide
IB Tauris, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, just released The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, History and “Medz Yeghern” by Dr Vartan Matiossian, the first book in his new series Armenians in the Modern and Ancient World. This book, the result of 10 years of careful research, explores the genealogy of the concept of “Medz Yeghern” (Grand Crime), the Armenian term widely used for the annihilation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between the years 1915 to 1923. Assigning the right definition to crime, widely accepted by historians as one of the classic cases of genocide in the 20th century, has been a source of contention and controversy in international politics. Matiossian approached a subject both omitted and misinterpreted in historiography, adopting a perspective that is both historical, linguistic, literary and political. He drew on an impressive collection of Armenian literary and periodical sources, as well as other European languages, in order to trace the development of concepts relating to the massacre and genocide of Armenians from antiquity to modern times. Beginning with an analysis of the term bishopric himself, he shows how its use has evolved with the emergence of the term genocide in 1944 and the Armenian struggle for international recognition of the crime in the face of Turkish contestation. The book is an insightful exploration of the politics of naming a catastrophic historical event, with careful analysis of the use and abuse of Medz Yeghern by the Vatican, Turkey and the United States over the past two decades and its repercussions in the Armenian Kingdom.
“I was not particularly interested in the Armenian genocide as a central topic of my scholarship until the name Medz Yeghern arrived on the international scene at the beginning of this century and became a tool of denial by actors who had neither the authority nor the knowledge to make sense of it, ”said Dr. Matiossian. “Enter the Armenian language as a neglected essential source for understanding what the name meant to the speakers of the language, who were and are the only ones with such authority and knowledge. I worked to establish the different meanings of bishopric throughout history, with a parallel reconstruction of the use of genocide in the Armenian milieu after 1945, and reconciling these meanings with current trends in the policy of naming genocide, ”he continued. “I believe I have contributed to a better understanding of the need for a multidimensional approach to genocide issues, while bringing to the table a wealth of information and analysis that was not readily available to researchers.”
Professor Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Editor-in-Chief of the Armenians in the modern world and at the beginning of modernity series, noted: “We are truly delighted to publish the excellent book by Matiossian which comes at a crucial time when deniers, whether it is the Turkish state and its apparatus and / or individuals, use and abuse the concept of bishopric in order to omit using genocide to describe the crimes perpetrated against the indigenous Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Matiossian’s interdisciplinary approach and meticulous research illuminate for academics and readers in general the genealogy of the concept and traces its journey through the 20e and the 21st century.”
Dr Vartan Matiossian is executive director of the Eastern Prelature of the Armenian Church in New York. Historian and literature specialist, over the past 35 years he has published eight books on Armenian history, literature and language in Armenian, English and Spanish, as well as 22 books in Spanish and English translation, and several volumes edited. He has also published numerous articles, translations and essays in the Armenian and non-Armenian press.