Ayşenur Korkmaz is a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Amsterdam, European Studies. She gained her Master’s degree at Central European University, Nationalism Studies with honors. She was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Katz Research Fellowship in Genocide Studies at the USC Shoah Foundation Center. She published articles on violence and the forced displacement of Armenians during the Hamidian Massacres and the genocide of 1915-1916, as well as on the post-genocide period in Armenia. Korkmaz’s current doctoral research explores the post-genocide articulations of the Armenian homeland (Ergir or Western Armenia) in Armenia, through narrative and materiality.
Research areas: Late Ottoman and modern Turkish history, the history of Soviet Armenia and the Armenian Republic, ethno-religious conflict, forced displacement, territorial nationalism, materiality, memory,
After the Armenian genocide of 1915-1916, around 300,000 Armenians were banished from the Ottoman East and settled in their 'new homeland', Soviet Armenia, constituting a third of the country's ethnic-Armenian population. While adapting to numerous political and socio-economic transformations of Armenia over the decades, the ex-Ottoman Armenians and their descendants have been reflecting on the violent past and expulsion from their 'old homeland', referred to as ‘Ergir’ in Armenian. Ergir is a spatial construct that denotes a politically-charged 'national homeland’ (analogous to the terms 'Western Armenia' and 'Historic Armenia') or a ‘local homeland’ like a village, city, or region located in today's Eastern Turkey. My historical-anthropological research explores how the expellees and their descendants relate to their 'place of origin' and ex-social networks, and how those relationships have changed over the span of a century in Soviet Armenia and its successor, the Armenian Republic. I argue that in the Soviet era, particularly after the 1960s, Ergir was evoked and fantasized in the realm of narrative, through encoded, storified, and transmitted memories that were both written and in oral tradition. In the post-Soviet period, the memory of Ergir has ventured into the domain of materiality, as the descendants of ex-Ottoman Armenians began securing their familial experience of violence and loss with objects, landscapes, and ritualistic configurations, instead of intangible mediums. To demonstrate this point, I explore the recent acts of roots tourism or (pilgrimage as Armenians call it) in the imagined land of Ergir, where Armenian descendants visit ancestral towns, churches, graves, death places, battlefields, and natural landmarks of significance for Armenian culture, and take small relics from those sites, such as stones, water, soil, or plant seeds. I also trace the materialized memorialization of the genocide and Ergir in Armenia through genealogical trees that the descendants create and display in their homes, in pursuit of archiving and commemorating their familial past and the lost 'homeland'.