WORCESTER, Mass.—Just days before the world marked the 101st remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University conferred its second Ph.D. in Armenian Genocide Studies.
On April 19, Umit Kurt successfully defended his dissertation, “Destruction of Aintab Armenians and Emergence of the New Wealthy Class: Plunder of Armenian Wealth in Aintab (1890s–1920s).” In its pages, he produces a microhistory of the Armenians in the city of Aintab, located on the Syrian border in southeast Turkey, before, during, and after the genocide. Elucidating the economic dimensions of the genocide, Kurt describes how the Turks used the Abandoned Properties Laws to confiscate Armenian property in Aintab.
Among his many fellowships, speaking engagements and honors, Kurt was the Agnes Manoogian Hausrath fellow at Clark, and an Armenian Studies Scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation also supported his research. His research and teaching—he was a lecturer at Sabanci University in Istanbul as well as research fellow at Fresno State University—also has earned him a post-doctoral fellowship beginning in September at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.
“I am so happy to finish my dissertation and be a part of newly emerging critical scholarship in Armenian and the Ottoman Studies,” Kurt said. “I believe my findings in the dissertation will make a concrete contribution to the existing state of art and pave the way for other scholars to dwell upon unfolding local traces of Armenian Genocide. I firmly believe that any study in this field cannot be done without having Armenian language skills.”
While writing his dissertation, Kurt also managed to publish articles in the Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and International Journal of Middle East Studies. Berghahn Books published The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (July 2015), which Kurt co-authored with Taner Akcam, Clark professor of history and Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies.
The 2015 Centennial of the Armenian Genocide afforded several opportunities for Kurt to present his research findings. He participated in the Strassler Center’s International Graduate Student Conference, lectured at UCLA, and presented at a conference in New York on the Armenian Genocide within the context of the Ottoman Empire and World War I.
At the 2016 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day rally in New York on April 24, Kurt appeared with elected officials, survivors, and others to speak before thousands gathered in Times Square.
Kurt received a bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University in the Department of Political Science and his MA in European Studies from Sabancı University.
The Strassler center’s first student to complete a Ph.D. in Armenian Genocide Studies was Khatchig Mouradian, who defended his dissertation, Genocide and Humanitarian Assistance in Ottoman Syria (1915-1917) in January.
Mouradian, former editor of The Armenian Weekly (2007-2014), is a visiting assistant professor at the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University and is the coordinator the Armenian Genocide Program at Rutgers’ Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR). He is also an adjunct professor in the philosophy and urban studies departments at Worcester State University, where he teaches courses on urban space and conflict in the Middle East, genocide, collective memory, and human rights.
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge Convention. Change Our World.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West